The middle class in poor countries is the fastest-growing segment of the
world’s population. While the total population of the planet will
increase by about 1 billion people in the next 12 years, the ranks of
the middle class will swell by as many as 1.8 billion. Of these new
members of the middle class, 600 million will be in China. Homi Kharas,
a researcher at the Brookings Institution, estimates that by 2020 the
world’s middle class will grow to include a staggering 52 percent of
the global population, up from 30 percent now. The middle class will
almost double in the poor countries where sustained economic growth is
lifting people above the poverty line fast. For example, by 2025, China
will have the world’s largest middle class, while India’s will be 10
times larger than it is today...
In 2005, China added as much electricity generation as Britain produces
in a year. In 2006, it added as much as France’s total supply. Yet,
millions in China still lack reliable access to electricity; in India,
more than 400 million don’t have power. The demand in India will grow
fivefold in the next 25 years.
The debate about the Earth’s “limits to growth” is as old as Thomas
Malthus’s alarm about a world where the population outstrips its
ability to feed itself. In the past, pessimists have been proven wrong.
Higher prices and new technologies, like the green revolution, always
came to the rescue, boosting supplies and allowing the world to
continue to grow. That may happen again. But the adjustment to a middle
class greater than what the world has ever known is just beginning. As
the Indonesian and Mexican protesters can attest, it won’t be cheap.
And it won’t be quiet.
From near the end of John Robb's "Brave New War: the Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization":
...By building resilience into the fabric of our daily life, our response to these threats will organically emerge in what seems like an effortless way. Without them, we will suffer the effects of dynamic shocks on a brittle system. With this in mind, I've created a scenario that characterizes what a breakdown looks like to serve as a warning of what we can expect in the future....
...High oil prices, a significant drop in global economic activity these prices cause, and numerous attacks by global guerillas will put globilization into retreat. Barriers will emerge against outside threats (both economic and security) along the borders of every major trading bloc. the drop in trade and the inflation this creates will be absorbed badly by most major economies. It will be a disaster within China. The Chinese government lost any residueal claim to nation-state legitimacy in the 1990s because of rampant corruption and inattention to the basic needs of its citizen. Its only source of legitimacy was vbased on market-state norms: economic opportunity and growth. with the decline of global trade, the Chinese bubble economy will go into free fall. Any Clains to its one one form of legitimacy that formed over the last three decades of scintillating growth will be shatered in less than a year. Mass protests will rise from the 2006 average of two hundred a day to the thousands. Furthermore, the protests will become more violent.
Initially, the Chinese government will try to crack down on these protests through the use of its recently expanded paramilitaries. However, these well-armed irregulars will only exacerbvagte the violence when they cause seeral massacres. As the cycle of violence accelerates, the Chinese military will be rushed in to quell the protests. Without legitimacy, however, Chinese military units will melt away when faced with killing protesters. Several may even join with the protestors to sow regional chaos. With the country in full disintegration, rfegional and local governments will begin to declare their independence from the central government (and in several cases, with newly installed management)> China will finally revert to its historical norm: fragmentation.
The 2004 Report of the National Intelligence Council's 2020 Project "Mapping the Global Future" asked and answered the following question:
What Would an Asian Face on Globiliozation Look Like?
Rising Asia will continue to reshape globalization, giving it less of a “Made in the USA” character and more of an Asian look and feel. At the same time, Asia will alter the rules of the globalizing process. By having the fastest-growing consumer markets, more firms becoming world-class multinationals, and greater S&T stature, Asia looks set to displace Western countries as the focus for international economic dynamism—provided Asia’s rapid economic growth continues.
Asian finance ministers have considered establishing an Asian monetary fund that would operate along different lines from IMF, attaching fewer strings on currency swaps and giving Asian decision-makers more leeway from the “Washington macro-economic consensus.”
• In terms of capital flows, rising Asia may still accumulate large currency reserves—currently $850 billion in Japan, $500 billion in China, $190 billion in Korea, and $120 billion in India, or collectively three-quarters of global reserves—but the percentage held in dollars will fall. A basket of reserve currencies including the yen, renminbi, and possibly rupee probably will become standard practice.
• Interest-rate decisions taken by Asian central bankers will impact other global financial markets, including New York and London, and the returns from Asian stock markets are likely to become an increasing global benchmark for portfolio managers.
As governments devote more resources to basic research and development, rising Asia will continue to attract applied technology from around the world, including cutting-edge technology, which should boost their high performance sectors. We already anticipate (as stated in the text) that the Asian giants may use the power of their markets to set industry standards, rather than adopting those promoted by Western nations or international standards bodies. The international intellectual property rights regime will be profoundly molded by IPR regulatory and law enforcement practices in East and South Asia.
Increased labor force participation in the global economy, especially by China, India, and Indonesia, will have enormous effects, possibly spurring internal and regional migrations. Either way it will have a large impact, determining the relative size of the world’s greatest new “megacities” and, perhaps, act as a key variable for political stability/instability for decades to come. To the degree that these vast internal migrations spill over national borders—currently, only a miniscule fraction of China’s 100 million internal migrants end up abroad—they could have major repercussions for other regions, including Europe and North America.
An expanded Asian-centric cultural identity may be the most profound effect of a rising Asia. Asians have already begun to reduce the percentage of students who travel to Europe and North America with Japan and—most striking—China becoming educational magnets. A new, more Asian cultural identity is likely to be rapidly packaged and distributed as incomes rise and communications networks spread. Korean pop singers are already the rage in Japan, Japanese anime have many fans in China, and Chinese kung-fu movies and Bollywood song-and-dance epics are viewed throughout Asia. Even Hollywood has begun to reflect these Asian influences—an effect that is likely to accelerate through 2020.