Demography is Destiny
The above series of population pyramids depicts the ongoing evolution of Japan’s population spectrum, from 1950 to 2055. But it also roughly depicts the relative demographic status of India, China, and Japan respectively. More:
Japan faces a shrinking population and the need for fundamental structural reforms—as well as unprecedented levels of immigration—to sustain its high living standards. China has to cope with a shrinking workforce, curb massive industrial overcapacity, reduce a mountain of corporate debt and shift to a growth model based on consumption rather than investment. India, on the other hand, still needs to find jobs for the 1m or so who join the workforce every month. So it needs either to make a reality of the slogan of its prime minister, Narendra Modi, “Make in India”, or to find a way to prosperity other than the one—a period of labour-intensive manufacturing for export—that served East Asia so well.
India is bursting with young, China is beginning to experience a shrinking working-aged population, and Japan is full-on in the throes of population decline. These diverse placements on the demographic spectrum are reflected in the future prospects for the three nations. Japan can only think about defending what it has for as long as possible. China is contemplating taking decisive action to expand its territorial frontiers before it is too late to do so. And India is becoming quite worried that it will find itself completely under China’s thumb if it does not clean up its act soon and make itself a much tougher nut to crack.
In the background, hovering over them all, is Russia. Russia’s demographic situation falls somewhere between that of Japan and that of China. Russian leadership should be thinking about how to build Russian civil and economic infrastructure so as to make the country a good place for young families to form and grow. Instead, Putin is taking the rather predictable path to military confrontation, and a war that will devastate an already shriveling nation.
As Russia and China sound the war drums, wary neighbors are beginning to link up to combat the threats.
China’s rise is … uniting its neighbourhood … in apprehension of its strategic ambitions. It disputes territory with India, insists that Taiwan must one day be “reunified” with the mainland and in the East and South China Seas aggressively asserts its claims to contested reefs, rocks and islets. And it is challenging the security architecture which has, broadly, kept the peace in the western Pacific since the end of the war in Vietnam in 1975: one that relies on overwhelming American military superiority and a network of bilateral alliances. The arena China has chosen to make this challenge most explicitly is the South China Sea. In 2009 it submitted to the UN a map including its nine-dash line, apparently claiming sovereignty over almost the whole much-disputed sea. Since then, its fishing vessels and coastguard and builders of massive artificial islands have acted as if might makes right, remorselessly ratcheting up tensions.
Consequently, China’s neighbors feel threatened and are naturally drifting to stronger military and economic ties to each other — and to the United States. China’s bellicose agressiveness is inducing a counter-effect that is likely to be to China’s detriment.
Russia’s aggression against its Eastern European neighbors has similarly drawn NATO to Muscovy’s very borders. Putin has united the nations of Eastern Europe out of a mutual sense of self-preservation. And he has invited the US into his neighborhood in a most counterproductive manner — assuming that Putin actually wants to create a “peaceful” sphere of influence involving free and independent neighbors.
It is easy to see the part that demographic decline is playing in China’s and Russia’s neo-aggression against weaker neighbors. The clock is ticking and the writing is clear upon the wall. The two troublemakers must act out now or forever put aside their imperial ambitions and accept the inevitability of cooperation with neighbors — rather than domination and conquest.
The US Wants to Retire as Global Hegemon — But There are No Responsible Replacements to Take Over the Role
For well over a century, the US people (as opposed to the US government) have been naturally isolationist in nature. Since the US became the world’s dominant economic power in the late 1800s, the US has gotten rid of far more overseas territories than it has acquired. The US government was quite hesitant to enter either WWI or WWII, and would not have begun the poorly defined and badly executed “war on terror” had it not been for the 11 Sept 01 attacks on NYC and DC. Americans want their government to pull back — but is it safe?
Both Russia and China want to dominate all of Eurasia (and beyond), but both of them would first like to eliminate potential interference from the global hegemon — the US. Taking opportunistic advantage of the weak and ineffectual US president Obama, both China and Russia are testing US government resolve in regional attempts to forcibly expand national dominance.
China and Russia pretend to each other that neither poses a threat to the other, but no one is fooled by the attempted deception. A war for economic control of Asia between the two has been ongoing for decades now — and China is winning. But until the US retires from the scene, neither would-be tyrannical empire can afford to pay the price required to fully subjugate the other.
Demographic Decline Sets the Pace
India is not ready for China’s ongoing push for regional supremacy. But China has little choice if it is to achieve regional dominance quickly, before demographic decline and economic descent into societal chaos makes the goal unachievable.
Likewise, Russia’s neighbors to the west are not ready for Putin’s putsch toward the Baltic and control of the entire Black Sea area. NATO is not ready to repel a rapid, large-scale invasion by Russian imperial forces.
But India has a rapidly growing population, and political ties to a wide range of nations from Russia to North America to Europe to Oceania to Latin America:
Russia is the largest supplier of military equipment to India, followed by Israel and France. According to some analysts, Israel is set to overtake Russia as India’s largest military and strategic partner. The two countries also collaborate extensively in the sphere of counter-terrorism and space technology. India also enjoys strong military relations with several other countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, South Africa and Italy. In addition, India operates an airbase in Tajikistan, signed a landmark defence accord with Qatar in 2008, and has leased out Assumption Island from Seychelles to build a naval base in 2015.
India has also forged relationships with developing countries, especially South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico. __ India Foreign Relations Wikipedia
China cannot commit to open conflict — as opposed to the current covert conflict — with Russia, until it no longer has India at is back. And it certainly cannot afford such a move until the US has pulled its forces back from the long line of obstructive island nations that block China’s navy from the blue Pacific.
Fortunately for China in opposition to Russia, over the next 20 years time is on China’s side. China is investing in Finland, Poland, Ukraine, and a number of other nations to the west of Muscovy. China is investing in Central Asia, to the south of Russia. China is covertly annexing the Russian Far East via immigration, economic control, and outright buying up of Russian assets. Finally, Russia is desperately in need of upgrading its infrastructure, and China is willing to do the job, for certain compensations.
After 20 years, India’s demographic advantage is likely to prove telling, unless China is able to take over most of Russia’s strategic resources in Siberia, to provide clean lebensraum to the hardier members of its population.
Some information on Russia’s deeper problems, a few of many reasons why Russia is vulnerable to China in ways that even the Putin government is not yet aware.
Hope for the Best; Prepare for the Worst — But Demographics Will Call the Tune
Many things in life are completely unpredictable, given limited human knowledge and cognition. Other things tend to announce themselves with loud fanfares long before their arrival. Distinguishing which is which can be difficult for most — but it is important to do so. Be on the lookout for scam artists who try to sell you certainty and security in the face of almost total uncertainty ( eg climate cultists and green energy scammers). Opportunists and corrupt special interests abound. Don’t let yourselves be their victims. Understand the dynamics, study the fundamentals, and use your own minds to sort out the likelihoods. There is no other way.
China is becoming famous for similar bad behaviour. Both Russia and China appear to be planning for war, rather than a cooperative economic prosperity.