China is facing a “demographic problem of immense proportions” which will lead a growing number of citizens to reject its authoritarian leadership, former Australian prime minister John Howard says.

The Age reports on comments made by Mr Howard at an online forum hosted by the USSC to mark the 15th anniversary of the Australia-US free trade agreement.

“I’m someone who rejects totally this idea that America has entered a period of decline and that some kind of showdown between China and America is inevitable,” said Mr Howard.