WASHINGTON Dec 10 China's economy is likely to
surpass the United States in less than two decades while Asia
will overtake North America and Europe combined in global power
by 2030, a U.S. intelligence report said on Monday.
"Meanwhile, the economies of Europe, Japan, and Russia are
likely to continue their slow relative declines," it said.
The report, "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds," was
issued by the National Intelligence Council, an analytical arm
of the U.S. government's Office of the Director of National
Intelligence. In addition to U.S. intelligence analysts, the
report includes the views of foreign and private experts.
It is the fifth report of a series - the previous one was
released in 2008 - that aims to stimulate "strategic thinking"
among decision makers and not to predict the future.
The health of the global economy increasingly will be linked
to progress in the developing world rather than the traditional
West, the report said.
"As the world's largest economic power, China is expected to
remain ahead of India, but the gap could begin to close by
2030," it said.
"India's rate of economic growth is likely to rise while
China's slows. In 2030 India could be the rising economic
powerhouse that China is seen to be today. China's current
economic growth rate - 8 to 10 percent - will probably be a
distant memory by 2030."
Economic growth in emerging markets was expected to drive
technological innovation and flows of companies, ideas,
entrepreneurs and capital to developing countries will increase,
the report said.
"During the next 15-20 years, more technological activity is
likely to move to the developing world as multinationals focus
on the fastest-growing emerging markets and as Chinese, Indian,
Brazilian, and other emerging-economy corporations rapidly
become internationally competitive."
Technology will help shift power away from any one country
and toward "multifaceted and amorphous networks" to influence
global policies, it said.
"Technology will continue to be the great leveler. The
future Internet 'moguls' - as with today's Google or Facebook
-sit on mountains of data and have more real-time information at
their fingertips than most governments."
That data will enable private companies to influence
behavior on as large a scale as government entities.
The widespread use of new communications technologies will
mean social networking will enable citizens to join together and
challenge governments, as seen in Middle East, but will also
provide governments "an unprecedented ability to monitor their
citizens," the report said.
POST ARAB SPRING
In the Middle East, the youth who drove the Arab Spring will
give way to a gradually aging population and with new
technologies starting to provide the world with other sources of
oil and gas, the Middle East economy will need to increasingly
diversify, the report said.
"But the Middle East's trajectory will depend on its
"On the one hand, if the Islamic Republic maintains power in
Iran and is able to develop nuclear weapons, the Middle East
will face a highly unstable future. On the other hand, the
emergence of moderate, democratic governments or a breakthrough
agreement to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could have
enormously positive consequences."
Islamist terrorism might end by 2030, but terrorism is
unlikely to disappear completely because states may use such
groups due to a "strong sense of insecurity," the report said.
"With more widespread access to lethal and disruptive
technologies, individuals who are experts in such niche areas as
cyber systems might sell their services to the highest bidder,
including terrorists, who would focus less on causing mass
casualties and more on creating widespread economic and
SPREAD OF LETHAL TECHNOLOGIES
The next two decades will see a spread of lethal
technologies and a "wider spectrum of more accessible
instruments of war" especially precision-strike, cyber and
bioterror weapons, the report said.
"A cyber arms race is likely to occur" as states seek to
defend infrastructure against cyber attacks and to incorporate
cyber weapons in their arsenals.
"The degree to which cyber instruments will shape the future
of warfare is unclear, however," it said.
War historians believe cyber power may end up similar to
early 20th century projections of air power, which played a
significant role but did not turn out to be the war-winning
capability that some enthusiasts had predicted, the report said.
"The potential opened up by information technology is for
future 'do-it-yourself' revolutions conducted by networked
social movements that employ information technologies which
communicate and collaborate with like-minded individuals," it