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Notes about China
Prognosis of the World Development between 2000 and 2030
This prognosis was finished in June 1999 as a sequel to the strategic plan intended for a group of financial companies floundering in the morass of Kazakhstan's privatization. By that time it was already clear that "miracles" of the previous decade, which had liberated us from the Stalinist inheritance, were coming to an end and that the path, which would lead Russia and her fellow-nation Kazakhstan towards prosperity, would not be strewn with roses. The romantic period of discoveries and openness would have to end by 2000 or 2002.
What would the morrow bring? "Whither the world", or we? For it was clear that a more or less serious prognosis of the development of Russia and Kazakhstan might be worked out only from the course of global development.
I began this work with a feeling that something immense was getting to its end - a great "epoch", a romantic period of "anarcho-democracy", of the freedom of speech and private initiative, of delimitation and destruction, of so-called primitive accumulation of capital performed by criminal ways. Judging by the feedback from the readers, the prognosis proved to be an effective one. When I was finishing it, it was a consistent story - the most probable scenario of global development for next thirty years.
As far as I could estimate then, the main event of 2000-30 will be increasing Chinese influence all over the world, especially in countries bordering China on the south and north. It will be accentuated with Russia's voluntary and overall dependence on China, which will begin from great benefits Russia will be reaping, while selling her weapons to the Chinese, and cease, when she perceives the danger to her territorial integrity.
The unification of Europe will proceed painfully, and in a way different from how it was seen in the 1990s. The Arab world will see a series of uprisings, and so will Africa and Latin America. The only difference will be that regimes, which come to power in Africa, will be mostly extremist ones, while those of Latin America will develop strong enough to challenge economic and political dominance of the U.S.
Growing contradictions will be likely to cause a large-scale local war in the Middle East by the mid-2030s. In this war, the U.S. and Europe will be fighting on one side, and China - on the another. I suppose that common sense and the instinct of self-preservation will prevail on both sides and the adversaries will not use nuclear weaponry. After the war, both sides will give up the use of force and open expansion in foreign policy, as well as techniques of secret war. The main reasons for such forbearance will be stability and self-dependence that both centers of world power - China and the U.S. - will develop at the beginning of the century. The autarchy will make expansionism void of its source of energy"- interior problems that must be detonated outwards.
I. Analysis Of Last Thirty Years
The situation the world has been in for last several years was a really unstable one. From two centers of power and order in the world, one – the USSR – has disappeared. Two other are still in order to emerge – I mean Europe and China, and, perhaps, India. The revolution in science and technology shows no signs of slowing down. The population of Earth is steadily growing. Nuclear weapons are creeping over the world; recently India, Pakistan and, quite possibly, Israel, South Africa and Arab states have come into possession of not only the nuclear weaponry, but also of means to airlift it over thousands of kilometers. Economical contradictions between the U.S. and Europe, the U.S. and China, China and Japan, Germany and Turkey, Germany and France, and so on, are growing ever more acute day by day.
What could be the result of next twenty or thirty years of the world history? Is there a possibility of large-scale local or even international wars breaking up? In what manner the world will be divided between the "old" and the "new" powers? What could be the rates and trends of economic growth in various regions? Which kinds of goods will be considered indispensable for life, and which won’t? What transformations will democratic institutions in core states and developing countries undergo? And what could be the place of Kazakhstan and Russia in this new world?
Let us analyze the most typical trends main world powers developed along during previous thirty years (since 1970 till 1999). The USSR, which was stabilized in the 1960s to the degree that allowed him to reach its last great successes in the confrontation with the U.S. and Europe, was finally caught up in the down-going trend of stagnation. Since the 1970s it has been falling down the crevasse, ever faster and faster.
The 1980s were time of frenzied efforts to reform the system and save what was left of the USSR’s place in the world. The 1990s saw the Soviets retreating from the field of forces. The Soviet commonwealth eventually broke into pieces, shorn of its economic might.
The U.S., that also faced contracting of their share in the world economy, have nevertheless successfully endured the struggle for marketability and efficiency with Japan and Europe, and won in the 1990s. All the time they have been fighting to preserve their political, cultural and ideological influence throughout the world, to make it secure forever after the breakdown of the USSR.
By the end of the 1990s, the US dollar has reached its maximum value and had no more rivals in the world. The American life-style and consumption levels were the highest in the world. The only trifle obstacle laid in the new centers of power, which have emerged by that time, and were as much eager to get to power and influence, not caring a bit of the interests of the USA. I mean here China and, maybe, the unified Europe, which didn’t have to be afraid of the Soviet bloc or the Communist threat anymore.
In last twenty or thirty years, China, forced with historical laws, has liberated herself from odious bonds of Maoist ideology. As a consequence, she immediately began showing 5 to 6 times’ better performance than earlier. The Chinese dominance in the neighboring countries of Asia has not yet reached its highest peak, for Chinese potential of growth is still enormous.
The Chinese civilization, which is several thousand years old, is based on the ideology of Confucianism (which reminds of Protestant ethics of Europe) and on traditional communal style of life in the countryside. We must remember that labor efficiency and standards of living in China are still more than 10 times lower than those of the U.S are. If we also consider industriousness, trading wit, ingeniousness and diplomatic talents that the Chinese are famous for, we can safely suppose that the "Chinese wonder" is still to be seen. And when it comes, it could make an awful mess for the U.S. and Japan to be in!
As for Europe, including former states of the "Socialist Commonwealth", it outnumbers the U.S. and Canada almost 1.5 times in population figures, and equals the U.S. in economic wealth. However, it is still not united and will not probably unite for good in nearest 10 or 20 years. Moreover, it looks like the euro will already prove to be a damp squib by 2005. Contradictions and problems inside the European Community, heated skillfully by the U.S., will only be tightening with time. Great Britain is closer to the U.S., than to the continental Europe. Germany is likely to "discover its hidden self" not in the West, but in the economic Drang towards Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Baltic states, maybe Poland or Ukraine).
However, I seem to have been driven unwillingly from analysis of the past to the prospects for the future. Let us return to the past, and see what conclusions are still to be drawn.
The first and foremost event of the recent past was the breakdown of the Soviet Empire and vanishing of the "Communist alternative". The next in importance was China’s choosing capitalist path of development, and its rapid turning into the second world power. The emerging of new markets in Asia deserves the third place by its importance. Those "emerging markets" are in reality several hundred millions people, living under a special, Far Eastern type of capitalism. New Asian markets proved that Japanese economic wonder had not been unique and might be produced somewhere else. True, the wonder faded somewhat during the 1997 Asian crisis; nevertheless, that crisis has evidently been a "crisis of growth ", not one of stagnation. Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand have emerged from it matured and ready for a new attack on the U.S. and Japan’s positions.
I’d rather name the unification and "Americanization" of Europe next by importance. After the unification, the status of old European nations became more like that of North America’s territorial states. However, in the first decade of the twenty-first century the unification process will run into serious problems, which will slow it down significantly.
As for Arab world, the riches it literally stumbled across in 1973, made it feel important, but did not help neither in uniting Arab nations, nor in destroying Israel, nor even in expanding Arab economic and political influence all over the world. Quite the contrary, oil revenues have turned their beneficiaries into effeminate creatures, totally dependent on American and European securities, in which they invested the greater part of their petrodollar billions. Everything they have built in the sand is kept up by hard labor of countless guest workers and engineers from abroad.
Japan, which in the 1980s claimed the economic hegemony in Asia, had been quickly eating into American and European markets, until she picked up an infection in the early 1990s and yielded ground to the enemy. The bug was something like the all-Asian "adaptation disease", or maybe Japan had it from China or from one of the "young tigers". They forced her out of several markets and dealt a severe blow at her foreign trade-oriented economy. Anyway, in contrast to China, Japan is not likely to restore her domination anymore, even within the limits of the Far East. The best she could count on is a place in the China’s anti-American alliance, or, vice versa, in an USA-leaded anti-Chinese bloc.
As for Africa or both Americas, during last twenty years there happened nothing of interest. Internal changes that have been occurring there had only a limited influence on the balance of forces in the world.
In short, the years between 1970 and 1999 saw re-enforcement of the "Atlantic" civilization. This re-enforcement resulted from rapid economic growth and new technologies and ideas, as well as from the fall of the Soviet colossus. Simultaneously, the Pacific civilization, which has been thrown into the background of the world during the last several centuries, unexpectedly sprung to life. Its marvelously rapid growth, which reminded of a fairy-tale and has been bringing Asia new forces (economic, political, ideological, or scientific) every hour, is still continuing.
The Arab civilization that had given birth to several revolutions and local wars turned (in a sense) into a dollar hostage. As for the other civilizations, they all, except Russia, proved quite able to keep up to their difficulties and to retain their place in the world system.
© Dmitry Alemasov
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