Skip to main content

Bremmer: Rise of China creating conflict

By Kevin Voigt, CNN
January 23, 2013 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bremmer: China-Japan conflict poses the greatest geopolitical conflict in 2013
  • A dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea has strained relations
  • China's growing power has led to a reevaluation in Tokyo; made U.S. wary
  • "Rise of China has enormous implications for both economic conflict and political conflict"

Davos, Switzerland (CNN) -- In 2013, the greatest risk of conflict doesn't lie in the halls of the U.S. Congress, on the battlefield in Syria nor the rising rhetoric between Iran and the international community, according to Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group.

"China-Japan is by far the most important and consequential geopolitical conflict on our screen for the entire year of 2013," Bremmer told CNN's John Defterios at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

A territorial dispute over islands in the East China Sea boiled over into often violent anti-Japanese demonstration in China last September has led to tensions between the world's second and third largest economies. Last week, new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned from a trip to Southeast Asia to shore up support of nations also at odds with China over disputed land claims in the South China Sea.

"The Chinese don't feel like they need the Japanese in the way they used to -- they don't need the technology, they don't need the investment dollars; and furthermore unlike places like Vietnam and the Philippines where the Chinese have a large Diaspora population that really controls the local business so over time the Chinese feel they win no matter what; in Japan ... there's no influence there," Bremmer said.

WEF founder upbeat on economic outlook
Caution and concern on display at Davos

Davos 2013: New year, same old problems?

After opening to economic reforms in 1979, the economy of the world's most populated country sprinted ahead at an average of 10% growth each year, overtaking Japan as the world's second largest economy in late 2010. While China is still in many ways a developing nation -- it's GDP per capita was 94th in the world in 2011 -- most economists expect it will jump ahead of the U.S. as the world's largest economy by 2030.

The December report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council, "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds," forecast that U.S. economic and international influence will decline in the next two decades as a shift of global power moves from the West to the East -- with the rise of China as one of the greatest forces

Quest: U.S. economy to dominate Davos 2013

"China is slated to pass the threshold of US$15,000 per capita purchasing power parity (PPP) in the next five years or so—a level that is often a trigger for democratization," the report notes. "Chinese `soft' power could be dramatically boosted, setting off a wave of democratic movements. Alternatively, many experts believe a democratic China could also become more nationalistic. An economically collapsed China would trigger political unrest and shock the global economy."

Bremmer thinks the odds of that are long, but a China moving on its current path will still be a primary player of world events in the next two decades.

Europe's decade: A tale of boom and bust

"Of course the rise of China has enormous implications for both economic conflict and political conflict precisely because this is a poor country, it's an authoritarian country, it's a state capitalist country -- and by the time China becomes the world's largest economy, surpassing the United States, those fundamental qualities of China will not particularly change," he said.

"Here you have a situation for many decades where Americans felt that China's rise was in their interest -- already Japan understands that China's rise is not in its interest, it's a bad thing," Bremmer said. "Increasingly the U.S. is very, very conflicted."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
Global policymakers, leading thinkers and key entrepreneurs are gathering in Davos. CNN brings you the latest news, views and musings live.
January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Free trade, transparency and a crackdown on tax cheats will be at the heart of Britain's G8 presidency, Prime Minister David Cameron told the World Economic Forum in Davos.
January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
Walk the halls of Davos and you're bound to bump into celebrities, heads of state and even princes and princesses.
January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
The mayor of London says a controversial vote for the British people whether to stay in the European Union is all part of democracy.
January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1820 GMT (0220 HKT)
A top European Union official says there's no need for Britain to make threats to leave the union in order to reform its membership.
January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1820 GMT (0220 HKT)
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga says his country will not negotiate with al Qaeda-linked Somali militants who have threatened to kill Kenyan hostages unless Nairobi releases all Muslims charged with terrorism.
January 26, 2013 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
LeWeb founder Loic Le Meur is looking to "digital hippies" as a potential theme for his next conference.
January 28, 2013 -- Updated 1459 GMT (2259 HKT)
The head of Airbus says the European aviation giant will take care to learn from its own mistakes -- and rival Boeing's -- ahead of the launch of its new widebody A350 aircraft.
January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1040 GMT (1840 HKT)
As extreme weather events cost the global economy billions each year, the "neglected" risk of climate change seems to be rising to the top of the agenda, Andrew Steer writes.
January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Economic empowerment offers a win-win scenario for Saudi Arabia and its women, Mounira Jamjoon writes.
January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)
The recession in Europe is entering its fifth year and unemployment doesn't look like it will be returning to normal levels anytime soon.
January 22, 2013 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that -- global.
January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)
On July 1, 2013 the 27-nation European Union will become 28. But is the Adriatic country ready to join Europe's elite club?
ADVERTISEMENT