International Security Outlook 2030–China and Russia

In the past week or so, I have done several posts on the first part of the Global Risk Report 2016, which came out earlier this year from the World Economic Forum.

The report is, to a large extent, similar in format to those created in previous years, which makes for an excellent way of checking up on recent trends of global risks.

One feature that was specifically commissioned for the Global Risk Report 2016, however, was a survey of the international security outlook for 2030.   International security is defined as “measures taken by state or non-state actors, individually or collectively, to ensure their survival and integrity against trans-boundary threats.”

The consensus in international relations that was achieved in the first 25 years after the Cold War created social, p0litical and economic progress for people in many countries around the world.  However, shifts in political and economic power are threatening the international security order, and these are being accelerated by:

  • technological innovation (see previous post on Global Technological Risks)
  • social fragmentation
  • demographic shifts

The two shifts that have the potential of destabilizing current international relations are:

  1. Frail or weakening states–these open up space for the rise of armed non-state actors (like ISIS) in the global security space, and present themselves as alternatives to state-based governance structures
  2. Return of strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests–this can be seen in the competition between the BRIC  countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) on the one hand and US and NATO countries on the other.

The last posts showed examples of the first shift,  where frail or weakening states create a power vacuum which is being filled by terrorist groups or criminal enterprises.   The examples given were Daesh in the Middle east, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in

The next part of the report on international security deals with the second of the two themes above, the strategic competition between strong states with conflicting interests, rather than the problems caused by weak states.    The examples given to illustrate this are the security issues dealing with China and Russia.   In the East and South China Sea.    Territorial disputes are far from solved, as control over the area essentially gives control over the economic trade that is increasing in the region.    To meet this security bottleneck, China is expanding its armed forces, including its air force.

US and the NATO alliance would like to contain Russia’s economic and military power, but this conflicts with the attempt to rein in the threat of Daesh in Syria, where cooperation with Russia is essential.    It is possible that as Russia is contained in the West, that it may be pushed into greater cooperation to the East with China.

The UN can serve as a meeting place to forge multilateral cooperation, but if security arrangements are achieved, it has no power to uphold these agreements.    There needs to be an overhaul of the institutional relations which underline international security arrangements, and to that end, the Global Economic forum has identified 7 Driving Forces of International Stability, which will be covered in the next post.



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