If present trajectories are anything to go by, China and India will be even more powerful players than they are now. India is not growing as quickly as China, but it’s certainly growing quite a bit faster than the Western countries. Beyond that, it’s essentially the other BRICS countries (Brazil, India, China and South Africa), which are regionally important players. It could be that in Africa a country such as Nigeria emerges as another player, as it has oil and it’s a large country – but it has a long way to go. Brazil has not had a good last five years but in the grand scheme of things it’s a huge economy and over the last 20 years its growth rate has been quite respectable, though not up to Asian standards.
There’s no straight line that we could extrapolate there but if current trends are anything to go by, certainly by the middle of the century we would expect a very different power balance"
That said, the US is not going away, even if it’s losing relative power. It only seems weaker compared to its relative strength 20 years ago, when it was the only major international player. It has become a bit more regionalised and, certainly in Asia, China is a major player now. In another 20 years its relative position will have increased, as there’s no indication that Asian growth rates will fall substantially.
In terms of sheer volume of gross somestic product (GDP), China isn’t that far away from the US but GDP per capita and the international role of the financial system takes longer to change. China is expanding its sphere of influence but it’s still a secondary power compared to the US, a global player but not a global rule-setter. There’s no straight line that we could extrapolate there but if current trends are anything to go by, certainly by the middle of the century we would expect a very different power balance. That’s the relative economic position; the US for a while will of course remain militarily dominant but there’s only so many wars they can fight at the same time.