Friday, May 5, 2023

The Futures of US-China Relations: Examining Historical Trends and Projections Using IFs System

The futures of relations between the United States and China is a topic of great interest to policymakers, business leaders, and the general public. By examining historical trends (until 2016) and projections (until 2050) using the International Futures (IFs) system, we can gain insight into what may lie ahead.

One key factor to consider is the Knowledge Society IFs Index, which measures a country's level of development in areas such as education, technology, and innovation. According to data and projection from 2015 to 2050, the United States is projected to see a slight increase in this index, starting at 68 and rising to 73. Meanwhile, China is expected to make significant gains, starting at 51 and reaching 70 in 2050, almost closing the gap with the USA.

Another important index is the population with less than $2 income. Looking at data and projection from 1980 to 2050, we see that China has undergone a dramatic decrease in poverty, plummeting from nearly 1 billion people in 1980 to almost none in 2050. This decrease was most rapid between 1990 and 2010, after which the slope of decrease became slow and smooth.

When comparing China and the United States using the IFs power measure, we see that China started around 13 in 2015 and experienced a smooth increase, ultimately saturating at around 16.5 on the index from 2040 onwards. In contrast, the United States is projected to experience a declining trend, starting at around 15.5 and reaching around 12 in 2050. Perhaps most strikingly, the year 2025 is identified as a critical inflection point, as the United States and China are projected to tie in terms of this power index.

Overall, these projections suggest that China will continue to make significant gains in areas such as education, technology, and innovation, while poverty levels will continue to decline. Meanwhile, the United States is likely to experience a decline in power relative to China. This underscores the need for the United States to remain vigilant and competitive in key areas, such as education, innovation, and strategic foresight. The futures of the relations between these two great powers will be shaped by these factors and many others, and it will be fascinating to see how events unfold in the coming years.

When comparing China and the United States using the IFs power measure, the impact of these gains on the environment must also be taken into account. See the figure below that compares countries based on the GDP per capita PPP and the emission of carbon and cement production. It shows that carbon emissions globally for fossil fuels and cement production in billions of tons by China is almost double of the USA:

While the progress of China is undoubtedly impressive, it is important to recognize that this progress has come at a cost to the environment. Addressing issues such as carbon emissions and environmental degradation will be crucial for China and the international community as a whole if we are to create a sustainable future for all.

The progress of China is often viewed through the lens of competition with the United States, which is deeply ingrained in the Western mindset and essential to capitalism. However, this view is now shifting from competition to confrontation, which is far more harmful. It is important to recognize that this mindset is not new, and has been present in human history for centuries.

As we look towards the future, it is clear that the coming planetary world must be built on a new form of capitalism, one that is more compassionate and human-centric. This shift is essential if we are to create a sustainable future for all. Unfortunately, the transition to this transformative planetary capitalism will not be easy. It will be rough, noisy, and perhaps violent.

If we are diligent enough and lucky, we may be able to avoid the violence that may ensue during this transition. However, it is unlikely that the key decision makers are ready for a peaceful, smooth, and nonviolent planetary transition. This is a cause for concern, as the consequences of a violent transition could be devastating for the planet and all its inhabitants.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the early 2000s, military spending by the United States sharply increased from $401 billion in 2000 to $753 billion in 2010. This growth in military spending has played a crucial role in shaping global power dynamics over the past few decades.

The progress of China may have a significant military implication. It is worth noting that China's military spending has been steeply rising since 2010. According to projections, there will be an inflection point in 2040, where China will surpass the United States in terms of military spending. This could mark a significant shift in global power dynamics, as China's military might will rival that of the United States.

Such a development could have significant implications for global security and stability, as well as for the balance of power between nations. It is important for global leaders to recognize this potential inflection point and work towards finding ways to maintain a stable balance of power between nations.

As we move towards the future, it is crucial for us to remember that military might alone cannot guarantee global security and stability. It is essential to work towards building strong diplomatic relations between nations and finding peaceful solutions to conflicts. This will require a significant shift in global attitudes towards conflict and power dynamics.

“The current zero-sum power geopolitics may lead to unending conflicts. It is time for us to shift towards a more synergistic approach to analysis, intelligence, advantage, and strategy,” writes Jerome Glenn. 

He goes on to say: “An example of such synergistic efforts between the United States and China is a joint goal of reaching a 350 ppt target for reducing carbon emissions. This could be achieved through a NASA-like R&D program that other nations can also join. 

“Another example of a synergistic approach is the co-sponsoring a UN General Assembly Resolution on AGI working group by the United States and China.” By working together on this important issue, the two nations can help to ensure that the development of artificial general intelligence is more likely to be safe and beneficial for all.

In conclusion, it is up to all of us, as global citizens, to push for a more compassionate and human-centric form of capitalism. We must work towards a world where competition is complemented by synergy and confrontation is replaced by understanding. This is the one way we can create a sustainable future for all and ensure that the progress of China and other nations is not achieved at the cost of the planet and its inhabitants.

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