You are on page 1of 22

Rise of China to 2030

Rise of China to 2030

Professor Carl Thayer
Futures Seminar
Futures Seminar  
May 11, 2011
Assumptions
• China
China’ss future will be determined mainly by
future will be determined mainly by
– Continued economic growth
– Maintenance of political stability
Maintenance of political stability
– Impact of regional and global developments
• Th
The legitimacy of the Chinese Communist 
l iti f th Chi C it
Party (CCP) is based on  continued economic 
growth, political stability and appeals to 
th liti l t bilit d l t
nationalism
Assumptions
• Continued
Continued economic growth at 10% is 
economic growth at 10% is
probably unsustainable
– Economic reform will be necessaryy
– Demographics – an aging population
• The legitimacy of CCP rule will come under 
g y
challenge due to:
– Corruption
– Governance issues
– Gaps in regional development
Assumptions
• External factors will impact on China
External factors will impact on China’ss future
future
– Taiwan and the question of reunification
– Instability on the Korean peninsula
Instability on the Korean peninsula
– Territorial disputes with Japan
– Rise of India
Ri f I di
– Relations with the United States
• Global Climate Change has the potential to 
l b l l h h h l
trigger domestic disruption
Alternate Futures
Alternate Futures
• China’s
China s future may be grouped into five major 
future may be grouped into five major
cluster of possibilities:
– Continuation of the one‐party state
Continuation of the one party state
– Populist /Nationalist state
– Turbulent Democratic Transition (Democratic state)
Turbulent Democratic Transition (Democratic state)
– Authoritarian state
– Fragmented state
F t d t t
• Economics and Politics will shape these clusters
High Economic Growth

Populist or 
Turbulent
Turbulent  One‐Party 
y
Democratic  State
Transition
Political  Political 
Instability Stability

Fragmented  Authoritarian 
State State

Low Economic Growth
One‐Party
One Party State Trajectory
State Trajectory
• The
The CCP succeeds in delivering economic 
CCP succeeds in delivering economic
growth at about 7%
• The CPP manages pressures for political 
The CPP manages pressures for political
change through a deft mix of liberalisation
and repression
and  repression
• Stable authoritarian rule results
One‐Party
One Party State Trajectory
State Trajectory
• China’s
China s economy overtakes the U.S. economy 
economy overtakes the U S economy
around 2030
– China and the U.S. become peer competitors
China and the U S become peer competitors
• China’s continues to modernise and transform 
its military
its military
• China’s demand for resources and energy 
increase its role as a global actor
l l b l
• China’s security becomes interdependent
Signposts One‐Party
Signposts One Party State
State
• Regularity
Regularity of CCP congresses and generational 
of CCP congresses and generational
leadership change
• Increased Chinese foreign investment abroad 
Increased Chinese foreign investment abroad
coupled with mercantile behaviour
• Central government addresses social welfare 
C l dd i l lf
and environmental issues
• Cooperation and friction in external political 
and defence relations
Populist/Nationalist State Trajectory
Populist/Nationalist State Trajectory
• An
An enlarged politically active citizenry 
enlarged politically active citizenry
emerges
• The state becomes more responsive to 
The state becomes more responsive to
pressures from outside the CCP
• Slower economic growth leads to increased 
Sl i hl d i d
contestation over resource allocation
• Political instability increases 
Populist/Nationalist State Trajectory
Populist/Nationalist State Trajectory
• Foreign
Foreign policy issues become internalised
policy issues become internalised
domestic political issues
• Chinese nationalists press for 
Chinese nationalists press for
– Reunification with Taiwan
– Resolution of territorial disputes
p
– End to foreign (US EU) pressures over human 
rights
– Greater use of military instrument of national 
power
Signposts Populist/Nationalist State
Signposts Populist/Nationalist State
• Alteration
Alteration of state institutions  and decision
of state institutions and decision‐
making structures to accommodate politically 
active citizens
• Economic disruptions caused by disputes 
between administrative units
• Increased pressures on Taiwan to 
accommodate
• Frictions with neighbours over territorial 
disputes
Turbulent Democratic State Trajectory
Turbulent Democratic State Trajectory
• An
An enlarged politically active citizenry 
enlarged politically active citizenry
emerges demanding rule of law and 
democratic reform
democratic reform
• The CPP initiates a gradual process of political 
liberalisation
• The pace and scope of political change 
b
becomes contested d
• Political instability is more marked
Turbulent Democratic State Trajectory
Turbulent Democratic State Trajectory
• China
China gives prominence to the role of the 
gives prominence to the role of the
United Nations in global governance
• China gives prominence to the role of regional 
China gives prominence to the role of regional
multilateral institutions
– China is more proactive in contributing to security 
Chi i ti i t ib ti t it
in Northeast Asia (Japan, Korean peninsula)
• Chi
China and the US develop a more cooperative 
d th US d l ti
relationship, some irritants remain
Signposts Turbulent Democratic State
Signposts Turbulent Democratic State
• Alterations
Alterations to Constitution and laws to shore up 
to Constitution and laws to shore up
democratic change
• Media reports of contested election results
Media reports of contested election results
• Increased court convictions for corruption
• Release of political prisoners from gaol
R l f liti l i f l
• Constructive Chinese behaviour in global and 
regional governance matters
i l tt
• Increased defence transparency & cooperation
Authoritarian State Trajectory
Authoritarian State Trajectory
• Economic
Economic growth declines and falls below 7%
growth declines and falls below 7%
• The state responds to calls for political 
liberalisation by increased repression through 
by increased repression through
‘rule by law’
• Both the internal political security apparatus 
B h h i l li i l i
and the military grow in strength
Authoritarian State Trajectory
Authoritarian State Trajectory
• China
China reacts negatively to any manifestation 
reacts negatively to any manifestation
of US support for Taiwan
• China becomes more assertive in pressing 
China becomes more assertive in pressing
territorial claims in the East Sea
• China seeks maritime dominance in the 
Chi k ii d i i h
Western Pacific and northern South China Sea
• China challenges US global leadership in 
multiple venues
Signposts Authoritarian State
Signposts Authoritarian State
• Increase
Increase in number of labour
in number of labour strikes & urban 
strikes & urban
demonstrations related to economic matters
• Growing frequency of arrests, trials and 
Growing frequency of arrests trials and
imprisonment, vilification in media
• Increased budget and size of security forces
I db d d i f i f
• Marked friction and incidents related to 
territorial disputes
Fragmented State Trajectory
Fragmented State Trajectory
• Economic growth falls below 7%
Economic growth falls below 7%
• Multiple sites of contestation occur
– State and enlarged politically active citizens
St t d l d liti ll ti iti
– State and society 
– Between regions
– Between ethnic groups and Han Chinese
• Central government weakens with marked 
political instability
Fragmented State Trajectory
Fragmented State Trajectory
• Erratic
Erratic foreign policy behaviour
foreign policy behaviour
• Central government moves to protect 
economic linkages and continued access to
economic linkages and continued access to 
resources and energy supplies
• Bouts of proactive nationalist behaviour
B f i i li b h i i
in 
defense of national sovereignty 
• General decline in international defence
activities
Signposts Fragmented State
Signposts Fragmented State
• Marked
Marked internal migration
internal migration
• Increase over time in the number and scope of 
public confrontations over political economic
public confrontations over political, economic 
and resource issues
• Clashes between security forces
Cl h b i f
• Mobilisation of the military for internal 
security operations
Future Research
Future Research 
• Climate
Climate Change 
Change – its regional effects in China 
its regional effects in China
and how it will impact on political, economic 
and social cleavages in society.
• Assessing the impact of protracted instability 
on the Korean Peninsula for China’s alternate 
futures
• Impact on defence spending if China seriously 
began to address environmental, health, 
financial and infrastructural deficits.