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WASHINGTON: The United States will likely be the “first among equals” in 2030 in an increasingly chaotic world where China is the top economy and demand soars for resources, a US intelligence report said yesterday.
The National Intelligence Council, in its first assessment in four years aimed at shaping US strategic thinking, said that China will surpass the United States as the largest economy in the 2020s, in line with independent forecasts.
But the study said that the United States, while weaker, will probably stay the top player in two decades thanks to its role in resolving global crises, its technological prowess and its “soft power” that attracts outsiders.
“The US most likely will remain ‘first among equals’ among the other great powers in 2030 because of its preeminence across a range of power dimensions and legacies of its leadership role,” the 137-page report said.
“Nevertheless, with the rapid rise of other countries, the ‘unipolar moment’ is over and Pax Americana — the era of American ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945 — is fast winding down,” it said.
The study predicted that Asia’s economy, military spending and technological investment would surpass those of North America and Europe combined by 2030, but warned of major uncertainty over an emerging China.
“If Beijing fails to transition to a more sustainable, innovation-based economic model, it will remain a top-tier player in Asia, but the influence surrounding what has been a remarkable ascendance will dissipate,” it said.
China’s global power is likely to keep rising but at a slower rate—a phenomenon of easing growth that, according to historical precedent, makes countries “likely to become fearful and more assertive,” the study said.
Europe, Japan and Russia are expected to maintain slow economic declines through 2030, while a number of middle-tier countries could rise such as Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey, it said.