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10:15AM

Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?

A compelling analysis from The Economist on how India's freer style of doing business, when combined with a huge and still unfolding demographic divided, could well trump China's current star turn in the global economy.

As I have noted for a while, China's demographic "golden hour" ends right now, as from here on out they add old people to their non-working-age population--despite the continued cut-off pressure applied through the single-child policy (Deng's gift to the world, for which we must be eternally grateful).  

Point being:  China's labor gets more expensive from here on out, but the good news should be, that means China's domestic consumption (higher wages) should become a huge driver in globalization.  It's just that China will no longer have a no-brainer--pun intended--advantage.  From here on out, the extensive growth must yield to intensive growth--as in, brain-fed.  For somebody who believe his work has a lot to do with capacity-building (i.e., raising a generation of strategic thinkers), China looks like a huge market to me already:  they're having outsized impact throughout the world but aren't assuming commensurate responsibility, which I believe the Chinese shudder from out of fear that it'll be draining (yes) and complex (yes) and demand all manner of innovative thought on their part (absolutely).  But the Chinese have no choice; the world simply will demand it all from them.  So developing China's human capacity is magnificently important for the future of the world--as in, we depend on it.  So whenever I hear about China cranking all manner of this or that skill set, I say, bring it on, and--by doing so--elevate your game and ours. Our education is stuck in industrial era mode and must be radically reformed, but we won't do it without the push of serious competition.  

Conversely, China's own internal reforms, I believe, will be increasingly driven by a sense of India coming up on its heels--all good stuff with all the same attendant dangers.  The question always to be asked when great powers compete intensely on the economic landscape is, "What is the state of the military-to-military relationship?"

When I look at China-US, I spot a moribund relationship.  When I spot India-US, it looks promising but still too embryonic.  And when I spot India-China, I spot another extremely weak bond.  

These are the three dominant economies that will have both the will and wallet, over the long haul, to shape the global security landscape.  Europe is taking a pass, primarily for demographic reasons.  Russia is similarly cursed.  China has a solid window, with India's even bigger.  America, a demographic freak of nature, retains it own.

So, from a security standpoint, the most important hearts-and-minds to win are all found within that trio of powers.  Keep the relations open and cooperative, and the economic competition will never spill over into anything truly bad, but keep them weak, and all sorts of bad choices linger out there.

I stick with my tighter logic that says:  go for China and you get India in the bargain, while going for India as a China hedge, if done too vigorously, gets you neither, for China will withdraw from the logic of security cooperation and India, as we all know, hates being played as pawn more than anything.

So the goal must be:  do whatever it takes to work the security cooperation with China, encouraging India to join at every possible junction.  The tiny bit of naval cooperation on Somali pirates is a start, but so much more can be done.  In a world of frontier integration, America needs two friends with million-man armies (with Turkey the next logical spoke in that wheel).  No one but America will retain the warfighting power-projection capacity, but it's clear there are strong limits to what we can do with that and that alone.  My concept of the SysAdmin was always about reorienting our major alliance relationships, and demographics was always the underlying driver.  Why?  The rise of the middle class triggers the resource relationships, and those relationships must be protected.  Same thing that happened with the US in the late 1800s; same thing happening with China, India, Turkey, Brazil, etc. now.  We are in the midst of a huge swapping out of allies, from North/West to East/South, and America is the connection that binds the two eras, because America's system of states-uniting, economies-integrating, networks-expanding, collective security and so on is the underlying template of this era's hugely successful globalization.

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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?
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    Thomas P.M. Barnett's Globlogization - Blog - Chart of the day: More likely to be India's century than China's?

Reader Comments (4)

I agree that China must be focus of U.S. SysAdmin focus in Asia. It will be beneficial for the political/economic/social evolution in India because the competition with China can help India overcome national divisions based on centuries old cultural divisions and historical conflicts. But I am concerned that a US SysAdmin focus on China will delay or reduce India's participation in resolving Afghanistan. But (again ;-) there are so many people friction flaps within and around Afghanistan that this angle should not be over stated.

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlouis Heberlein

China and India are routinely pointed out as the countries of the future because of their huge populations, which is extremely reasonable. While demographic dynamics will definitely play a part in that future, one thing that is also important to remember when thinking of future demographic trends, is that America's population is projected to increase substantially this century according to the census, with projections placing it as high as 1.1 billion by 2100. China's meanwhile is supposed to stabilize and decrease, which would bring the two countires much closer than they are now in population. India's is on track to be the world's largest. I think a debate on how that would shape the future is worth talking about.

October 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDouglas Johnson

It seems attitude "Go around and fixing countries by military force" just won't die. First, it woked well if locals (like in Bosnia or Kosovo) wanted foreign forces. Where they did not (like Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan) things were not going so well.

Next, if you have one child in family you don't want that child recklessly risking life. That includes joining military going to war zone.

Finally, it's more likely China and India will make condominium to dominate most of Asia instead of fighting for role of second violin to the USA. That's just my hunch but very plausible.

My view of world in next 40-50 years? All European countries (including Russia) in EU. NATO is converted into European "Permanent military alliance" (more like peace treaty). Trade block (emulating EU) emerges among Muslim countries from North Africa to Indian border. Both Americas get more economically integrated. Sub-Saharan Africa will hopefully follow the trend and work toward integration rather then civil wars.

October 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMladen Matosevic

I've been away from my regular read of Tom's blog for quite a while, but caught up a bit this evening.

The question on my mind after reading Tom's usually cogent analysis of America being the essential fulcrum to balance the Globe's security structures with China and India is this:

If Tom himself won't take up the mantle of global strategist along the lines of Kissinger in the current or future Administration, who will?

Who are the top three (or ten!) candidates, currently outside the Admin, that truly get the vision and will seek to drive policy from the inside out, rather than the outside lobbying the not quite convinced at State, Defense the White House? Let's name names and work to elevate the leaders we need.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Lerew

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