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The diffusion of power and the crisis of politics at the domestic and the international levels
are likely to affect prospects for international cooperation and could intensify competition
among international actors. A number of countries, including EU member states, may shift
from managing globalisation to managing the backlash against globalisation. The link
between domestic fragility and the instability of the international system suggests that in the
future states will forced to cope with both mutual strengths and mutual weaknesses. There is a
risk that countries struggling with domestic challenges will grow more introverted and less
engaged in a world that they may find more difficult to influence and understand.
As a result, their foreign policies may become largely reactive and focused on short-term
gains. No state is immune to this risk. But there will still be scope for leadership and renewal
within states, depending on their capacity to innovate, bargain, shape or connect to
cooperative platforms, and hedge against threats and adversaries. This set of political skills
will be critical in the growing number of middle-powers, which are likely to gain influence
within and beyond their respective regions by 2030. These middle-powers can hardly be
identified by quantitative indicators, although states that are very large or very small across
most dimensions of power do not fit this category.
Building on the experience of countries such as Canada, Australia and Norway, middle
powers have been defined as playing a proactive foreign policy role, enhancing a rules- based
global order and investing in niche issues on which they can make a difference (Evans 2011).
Looking to the future, middle powers may or may not contribute to international stability, but
their role will be consequential beyond their immediate borders and will impact the future of
regional or global governance. Regional heavyweights such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and
Indonesia will play a pivotal role in shaping their regional contexts, whether by institutional
or other means. Iran, Egypt and Nigeria may play leading roles on a regional level and
beyond, but they also risk generating protracted instability and conflicts. Meanwhile,
countries like South Korea (Lee 2012) and South Africa can serve as normative or bridgebuilders.
The overriding issue for Chinas future is whether the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will
be able to introduce economic and political reforms while preserving its rule. Chinas annual
growth rate is expected to slow from around 10% over the last decade to approximately 7%
through 2020, if sharp disruptions are avoided. Many argue that Chinas statist development
model has run its course (Magnus 2013; Wolf 2013). The short-term risk is that asset bubbles
could burst, precipitating a crisis of the financial system and hitting savings and incomes. If a
hard landing is avoided, the longer-term risk is that China falls into in a middle-income
trap. The country has already begun a transition toward a growth model that relies more
heavily on domestic consumption. The current account surplus has fallen from a peak of 10%
of GDP in 2007 to 2.8% in 2012 (The Economist2012). But sustaining such a transition (and
paying for social safety nets that cater for an ageing population) will require higher levels of
innovation and efficiency. Chinas share of R&D expenditure has jumped from 3% of the
global total in 1999 to 12% in 2009 (from 0.8% to 1.7% of GDP) (Veugelers 2012).
While Chinas share of patent applications has been growing significantly in the last ten years,
the country still accounts for only a minimal share of triadic patent applications, which deliver

the highest economic returns. Knowledge- and high-tech-intensive sectors contribute only
20% to Chinas GDP as opposed to around 30% for the EU and Japan and 40% for the US
(National Science Foundation 2012). The Chinese government has the potential to encourage
further innovation. However, this would likely require wide-ranging institutional changes,
such as liberalising the financial sector, strengthening the rule of law and encouraging
disruptive talent, which could challenge powerful vested interests and cultural norms. Many
analysts argue that the overriding concern of Chinese leaders will remain domestic political
stability, a proxy for the survival of the CCP (Breslin 2010; Jakobson 2013).
For example, Chinas public security budget, which is spent on internal security concerns, is
currently larger than its rapidly growing defence budget, partly owing to tensions in Xinjiang
and Tibet (IISS 2013, China 2010). Others stress Chinas distinct cultural roots, and contest
the view that its modernisation will lead to Westernisation or liberalisation (Weiwei 2011).
According to this view, an adversarial political system would not suit China, which has been
introducing progressive reforms to make the selection of leaders more transparent, gradually
conducting popular polls to inform policy decisions, and trying to boost meritocracy. China
will need to redefine itself and will probably do so in ways that do not replicate the experience
of the West. However, it will not be able to neglect the realities of an interconnected world or
deny its citizens aspirations.
Some argue that Chinas economic success has not translated into greater self-confidence on
the international level (Huang 2013), and that growth has propelled China to great powestatus
too quickly, making it a premature power. Most agree that Chinas foreign policy will
continue to be dictated largely by domestic concerns of growth and stability (Gill 2010). Until
now, two basic factors have accounted for Chinas foreign policy: the quest for resources and
markets, and the countrys normative approach to international affairs. Oil imports account for
over half of Chinas consumption and that share is expected to rise to 75% by 2035. Gas
imports grew steeply in the last few years and covered 22% of consumption in 2011, but gas
demand could triple by 2035 (EIA 2012b). Chinas worldview builds on the rejection of
Western hegemony and supports the democratisation of international relations and tolerance
of differences, which, according to the Chinese view, should be reconciled but not levelled out
(Wang and Rosenau 2009).
An equally important strand of Chinas foreign policy outlook aims to restore the countrys
standing after the century of humiliation. Chinas diplomacy has been described as riskaverse and self-interested (Shambaugh 2013). Great power peace will remain one of Chinas
overriding objectives; however, a harder tone can be expected when the country feels
confronted. An essentially reactive foreign policy, driven by domestic priorities and the quest
for status, carries two major consequences for the future: the risk of incidents around the
islands of the East and South China Seas spinning outof control (Jakobson 2013); and a lack
of initiative to solving global problems, which is a critical component of political influence in
an augmented world.