Does Russia’s future Include China?

Does Russia’s future Include China?

The likely scenarios and their consequences


“How much anger those European gentlemen have accumulated!” proclaims Andrei Danilovich Komiaga, a loyal oprichnik (guardsman) of the new czar. “For decades they have sucked our gas without thinking of the hardship it brought our hardworking people. What astonishing news they report! Oh dear, it’s cold in Nice again! Gentlemen, you’ll have to get used to eating cold foie gras at least a couple of times a week. Bon appetit! China turned out to be smarter than you.”

At least, that is the Russian (and Chinese) future that the post-Soviet provocateur Vladimir Sorokin depicts in his novel Day of the Oprichnik. Set in the New Russia of 2028, the czarist regime is back in full swing and has erected a big, beautiful wall on its border with Europe to keep out the “stench [of] unbelievers, from the damned, cyberpunks, … Marxists, fascists, pluralists, and atheists!” Russia is rich and awash in Chinese technology but inward looking, while reverting to the feudal structures of Ivan the Terrible (or the Formidable as this new generation of Russian leaders might have it). 

While the answer Sorokin provides may be fanciful, the questions he poses are worth asking — what might Russia look like in 2028 and beyond? Does Russia’s future include the People’s Republic of China (PRC)? And what are the consequences of these potential futures for Europe and the rest of the world? The intertwined trajectories of Russia and the PRC will force consequential decisions for the United States, Europe and their allies that will shape the 21st century. One way to anticipate, inform and prepare for these decisions is by contemplating the potential futures they might imply.

Of course, the future is inherently uncertain and futures analyses, such as this one, deal less in making likely calls and more in envisioning scenarios. This isn’t done entirely in the flamboyantly satirical style of Sorokin; instead, the analysis below considers key trends and indicators, available empirical data for tentative forecasts and counterfactual cases before offering a range of possible future scenarios. 

This analysis divides the questions of Russia’s and the PRC’s potential futures into several sections: first, considering their mutual history and the possible ways in which these may be used; second, considering the potential trends and futures of both; third, examining the central role the PRC’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) program has in shaping those futures; and finally, considering the potential scenarios and strategies within these futures.

These speculations have a fundamental policy application, prompting clear thinking on which of these futures Western nations might prefer and what can be done to achieve the best future for all. Ultimately, it is far better to have planned for many potential responses and not need them than to be caught by surprise and without options.

Potential futures for China

Let us turn to the PRC’s future and, in particular, the trends and sectors that are likely to define the realm of the possible. These are: the PRC’s physical environment,  demographics and economy, Chinese politics and society, and the PRC’s foreign relations and security. Finally, what are the PRC’s future strategies likely to be and what options does the PRC have in pursuing them?

In short, the PRC’s environmental future does not look good — and that’s bad news because environmental trends are the least likely to suddenly turn around, and the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) options in tackling these long-term trends are limited. The PRC’s carbon dioxide emissions are approaching those of the developed world combined and, without drastic intervention, are likely to dramatically exceed them by 2050 (Figure 1), as data reveals from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Its members are Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.

While it has made some progress in increasing nonrenewable electricity production, the PRC lags behind most other developed nations. This has significant global consequences and severe local consequences. The PRC’s arable land has decreased dramatically, from 118 million hectares in 2000 to 106 million hectares just 15 years later, while its population has continued to grow — making food security a huge issue. Compare this to the U.S., which over the same period went from 175 million hectares to 154 million hectares. While this is also a sharp decrease, it indicates that despite the short-term effects of the ongoing trade war with the U.S., the PRC is likely to remain dependent on agricultural imports from the U.S. unless it can quickly grow the number of trade-partner farming super states as part of OBOR.

Other environmental indicators for the PRC tell a similarly alarming story — with the number of people internally displaced by natural disasters remaining high, averaging 7 million each year. Its level of water stress is extremely high, and the mean annual exposure to air pollution outpaces the rest of the world (Figure 2).

The point of this survey is to establish that the PRC faces significant limits on the growth of its other sectors (demographics, economy) that stem directly from the future environmental problems it will face. A key source of these problems is the water-food-energy nexus because as these environmental issues grow alongside Chinese demand for food and energy, there will be increasingly less water or other key inputs to support this growth. 

A second limiting factor on the PRC’s growth, and its future, is its demographics. A legacy of China’s draconian population controls (including the One Child policy) is that by 2025 the PRC will no longer be the most populous nation — that honor will go to India, whose growth rate is projected to continue rising until 2050. In fact, by as early as 2030 the PRC’s population will have begun to shrink, being surpassed by the total population of OECD members in 2040 (Figure 3). The very foundations on which the PRC has built its wealth — a manufacturing economy with cheap and plentiful labor, a limitless capacity for economic growth built on the backs of an enormous population — will  erode. If the size and growth of global economies remains linked to the youth and size of a nation’s population, then Western nations may soon be asking whether India’s rise is coming at the PRC’s cost.

And the news gets worse: as the PRC’s population shrinks, it also grows older, meaning that a smaller proportion of workers must support the retirement of a larger number of Chinese citizens. This leads to the question of whether the PRC will succeed in growing rich — and moving up the value chain of the global economy — before it grows old.

In turn, the PRC’s political stability continues to depend on the CCP’s strength and effectiveness — a proposition likely to be stress tested in a variety of unexpected ways over the decades to come. First, there is the internal stability of the party itself, which may seem monolithic under General Secretary Xi Jinping but is far more factional and prone to internal disagreement than it seems. Indeed, Xi’s coronation was almost disrupted when he disappeared for two weeks in September 2012 — an absence, The Washington Post newspaper reported, caused when a chair thrown by a senior Chinese leader during a contentious meeting injured Xi when he tried to intervene. 

In terms of the PRC’s foreign relations and security, this translates into three key projects the CCP must advance — deliver Xi’s “China Dream,” stand firm on its geopolitical must-haves and avoid conflict as much as possible. China Dream rests on the CCP’s calculation that it has a 20-year window of opportunity in which the PRC can grow rich enough to build a firm foundation for the future of Chinese wealth and power. During this time, the CCP is unlikely to fundamentally challenge the post-World War II economic or political order because most parts of it work in the PRC’s favor for now and it costs the PRC little to maintain. On top of this, the PRC looks to quietly lay the foundations to replicate the CCP’s control of its internal circumstances to control its external circumstances, first economically but eventually politically. OBOR performs a fundamental task in this transition. While doing this, the PRC must remain firm on its geopolitical must-haves — maintaining the primacy of the CCP in all sectors, maintaining its territorial integrity in Xinjiang and Hong Kong while closing in on Taiwan, and remaining internally postured while deterring outside intervention through an anti-access/area denial military strategy. Lastly, the CCP almost certainly wants to avoid open military conflict with other capable nation states, believing that even small conflicts over issues beyond its geopolitical must-haves will compromise the window of opportunity for China Dream.

The PRC’s future, therefore, depends on the successful execution of these goals — particularly growing rich before it grows old and evenly distributing the gains. OBOR is a central means of achieving this. It is also likely that the CCP fears internal threats and instability more than it does outside actors, although it still plans for the latter. Two key factors drive the PRC’s potential futures — whether its economy is running on all cylinders (and is high capacity), as well as the CCP’s performance and legitimacy. If we arrange these two trends on X and Y axes, we get four interesting potential futures for the PRC (Figure 5).

In a high capacity, high performance/legitimacy future for the PRC, we get a high-tech repeat of China’s first emperor — a ruling party that uses future tech to tightly control the lives of its populace and its internal security (the “iron grid” of Qin Shi Huang implemented on Chinese life that pinned every subject in their place), while still delivering a rich and comfortable life for the majority of its citizens. In a high capacity, low performance/legitimacy scenario, we get a late-Qing redux — with a booming economy and much wealth transferred to actors both internal and abroad, but a slow, and then rapid, fracturing of the CCP’s hold, which may lead to a liberalization of Chinese society or a division of the spoils among its most wealthy and influential actors. Alternately, in a high performance/legitimacy, low capacity scenario, we may see a repeat of Chairman Mao Zedong’s repeated attempts to transform China amid bitter circumstances — with the CCP exercising draconian control but to little effect, with growth stalling and a poor populace seeing global economic progress migrate elsewhere. Finally, the worst of all possible worlds is contemplated in a low performance/legitimacy, low capacity scenario where a return to the instability of China’s Three Kingdoms brings less harmony and more collapse. 

This simple way of thinking about the PRC’s futures doesn’t predict one or another as more likely; indeed, the truth is likely to be a unique variant on all these scenarios and far more complicated. But it does allow us to envision different states and then contemplate the place that the success or failure of OBOR, and the PRC’s relationship with Russia, could have in these futures. 

Potential futures for Russia

In terms of future strategies, it is likely Russia will attempt to walk a fine line of provocation and concession with the West, betting European allies won’t have the staying power to commit to a full confrontation or containment policy and trying to extract concessions where it can. At the same time, it would be valuable for Russia to advance its hedging strategies in China and Eurasia, seeking out new markets and allies where possible. Finally, the regime is likely to attempt to strengthen internal resilience and dependence while trying to mitigate the effects of any downtime during a resource supercycle. What is most interesting about these strategies is that the three latter objectives seem to intersect directly with OBOR and the pressing question of whether Russia forms a fundamental part of it. It would not be too far from Sorokin’s fictional future to envision a resurgent Russia that has successfully staved off pressure from the West, forged close economic and security relationships in China and Eurasia, found new markets and means to mitigate its current economic problems and, therefore, steadied itself at home. 

This leads Russia into an interesting but potentially perilous set of alternate futures (Figure 6). While one of the PRC’s axes of alternate futures rests on the CCP’s effectiveness and authority, in Russia’s case it might be more accurate to pin the trend on the level of dissent within the nation and how that impedes the objectives of Russia’s elites. Similarly, while the PRC’s economic capacity and ability to power the global economy were key questions, for Russia it is a simpler matter of whether it is economically resurgent or depressed. The four scenarios that present themselves are subtly different from the PRC, representing Russia’s different internal structures and sources of strength and vulnerability, but they again have rough historical analogues. An economically strong and united Russia might present something of Peter the Great 2.0, allowing Russia’s future leaders and elites the scope to challenge or co-opt certain parts of the West while forging a unique relationship and identity in the East (a new Treaty of Nerchinsk, or special friendship). The world may have a lot to fear from this geopolitical alignment and, indeed, it has been a topic of conversation among crusty old Cold Warriors such as Paul Dibb and Henry Kissinger. An economically strong but politically fractured Russia, on the other hand, might resemble an early Nikita Khrushchev period redux where elites struggle to contain popular dissent while rotating between periods of thaw and crackdown that are not completely within their control. As with the PRC, this would likely lead to a less consistent and more volatile Russia on the world stage, as foreign policy is driven by internal fluctuations. An economically weak but low internal dissent Russia might represent a return to the stagnation of the Leonid Brezhnev years, where no one is particularly happy and Russia is withdrawn, but a fear of the potentially far worse prevents drastic action either internally or externally.

Finally, the most feared situation for Russia would be a return to a period of high dissent and economic collapse represented most potently in the Russian imagination by the transition from Mikhail Gorbachev to Boris Yeltsin and the years of “shock therapy” to reform the economy. While the PRC’s worst-case scenario represented a collapse of institutions and uncertain transition, it did not necessarily represent the collapse or split of the PRC itself. In Russia’s case, we should not be so certain given the numerous frozen conflicts (Chechnya, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Donetsk, Crimea) that Russia maintains to solidify its borders and what it perceives as its satellite states. Russia might just split apart under the pressure, simultaneously igniting numerous cold conflicts into hot wars. We may be faced with the reality that the only thing worse than an aggressive and resurgent Russia is one that is collapsing. 

One Belt, One Road 

Finally, it is worth considering OBOR and how it might act as a key pivot among these alternate futures. Specifically, OBOR was announced in 2013 by Xi as part of his broader China Dream and “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” and the name was changed to the Belt and Road Initiative in 2016. Consisting of U.S. $575 billion worth of railways, roads, ports and other projects, it establishes six overland corridors of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road as defined by the PRC. As of March 2019, 125 countries had signed collaboration agreements with the PRC as part of the initiative — although this should be taken with a grain of salt, as the World Bank assesses that only 71 of those 125 economies are in any meaningful way connected to OBOR. There is also confusion over the Belt-Road part that is worth clarifying: the land routes are “belts” because they allow economic corridors of industry and markets across their length, which will fuel the PRC’s global ambitions, while the “road” routes are sea lanes, which simply convey goods from port to port. 

As several commentators have pointed out, the PRC’s economy faces the reality of a slowdown. The PRC must continue its high rates of growth, even with this slowdown, to generate employment and stability. But for many years, the CCP’s tools of choice to do this have been debt and uncompetitive state control. This is no longer likely to deliver the results the CCP needs. Second, the PRC must rebalance its economy from that of a cheap-exports manufacturer to one that supplies higher-value products and services (such as cars, indigenous technology and finance) to internal and external markets. All of this is aimed at avoiding the middle-income trap, or the country growing old before it grows rich.

So far, there are two competing theories of how OBOR achieves this. The “maximalists,” such as political scientist Bruno Macaes, see it as nothing less than the start of an economic new world order presided over by the PRC. Macaes writes that “whoever is able to build and control the infrastructure linking the two ends of Eurasia will rule the world. … By controlling the pace and structure of its investments in developing countries, China could transition much more smoothly to higher value manufacturing and services.” The World Bank has also observed that the “countries that lie along the Belt and Road corridors are ill-served by existing infrastructure — and by a variety of policy gaps. As a result, they undertrade by 30% and fall short of their potential FDI [foreign direct investment] by 70%. OBOR transport corridors will help in two critical ways — lowering travel times and increasing trade and investment.” Therefore, China is simultaneously filling a gap and building goodwill within the developing world, hoping to lead the next phase of the global economy as it overtakes more developed OECD countries that currently sit atop value chains. 

But there is also the “minimalist” theory arguing that the so far successful publicity campaign elements of OBOR disguise something that is much less than it seems. For example, Jonathan Hillman, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argues that the “Belt and Road is so big it is almost impossible for one person to have mastery of it, sometimes I wonder if China grasps the whole thing,” while the World Bank places a large caveat on its previously mentioned analysis. In the same report, the authors argue that the program works “only if China and corridor economies adopt deeper policy reforms that increase transparency, expand trade, improve debt sustainability, and mitigate environmental, social, and corruption risks.” This theory argues that the program is a clever narrative to get more out of what is simply stimulus for the Chinese economy, particularly the construction sector, and that it is a simultaneous marketing pitch to get foreign capital and buy-in for a program that is only going to benefit the PRC. Further, some commentators have highlighted that rather than helping bordering economies, the projects that make up the program are useful debt traps that give the PRC leverage over neighboring governments. Finally, several have highlighted that the program is a useful cloak for the CCP to buy the loyalty of interconnected party cadres and businesses and that corruption siphons off a good proportion of any investment.

So, which is it? This is a particularly important question because the program is a key pivot that may decide whether a certain set of the PRC’s or Russia’s alternative futures are more likely than others. And while OBOR is a huge undertaking that will take many years to assess, so far the picture is not good. It has operated as a debt trap for more vulnerable nations, with Sri Lanka borrowing heavily to invest in new ports but then allowing a state-owned Chinese company a 99-year lease in exchange for debt relief — leaving little for Sri Lanka but setting up a strategic facility for the PRC along its key shipping lanes. The U.S. $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor offered a promising demonstration of OBOR’s potential with a key partner but has been stalled amid Pakistan’s significant debt problems. Burma has scaled back its initial U.S. $7.5 billion port deal with the PRC, settling for U.S. $1.3 billion; the Malaysian government has canceled U.S. $3 billion worth of pipelines and is threatening to abandon a U.S. $11 billion rail deal. The Maldives is seeking debt relief and cancellation due to widespread corruption among its OBOR projects, while a power plant in Kenya has been halted by the country’s courts due to corruption and environmental concerns. 

Yet OBOR has scored gains. The World Bank estimates that it has seen trade growth in connected economies of between 2.8% and 9.7% (1.7% to 6.2% worldwide), while offering significant advantages to the PRC and its trading partners in time-sensitive sectors such as fruit and vegetables or electronics supply. It further estimates that low-income countries have seen a 7.6% increase in FDI due to new transport links. But it is also clear that OBOR is likely to fall well short of the claims of the maximalists; indeed, placed in historical perspective, this is what we would expect. Against the PRC’s U.S. $575 billion of investment, the post-World War II economic order was shaped by the U.S. and its allies with trillions of dollars of investments over decades, including the reconstruction of West Germany and Japan. Scholars are still grappling with the costs the Soviet Union outlaid to build a parallel communist order that eventually collapsed. It was perhaps optimistic to think the PRC could accomplish a similar transformation on the cheap.

An answer

But back to the original question, or at least a variation of it. Does the PRC’s future include Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Iran, Turkey, Europe and Africa? Clearly, the answer is yes. Even if only modest elements of OBOR are delivered, the PRC will be looking to establish mutually beneficial markets in all these regions — whether it be for resources, food security, new industries or other elements of the PRC’s value chain of production. They simultaneously offer the access, cheap labor, skills and resources the PRC needs to improve the wealth and satisfaction of its citizens. These markets are close to China, they are amenable to Chinese investment and degrees of control, and they and the PRC stand to gain from the same outcomes.

But does the PRC’s future include Russia? After examining the evidence, while it is possible, on balance the answer is no for a few overlapping reasons — namely resources, markets, geography, competition and Russia’s outlook. On resources, Russia has a narrow range to offer, mainly energy and natural resources, which the PRC can source from various nations closer to its economic arteries than Russia is likely to be. The PRC is not just after supplies but also a reciprocal market for its value-added goods to ensure a strong two-way trade — Russia is unlikely to provide the latter as it gets smaller and relatively poorer. Despite their treaty of friendship and the construction of an extensive network of pipelines, the inability of Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin to reach a natural gas deal is emblematic of this problem. Related is the issue of markets — Russia is just not a large enough or convenient market for value-added Chinese goods, which tend to bypass it and instead flow to Europe.

Then there is the issue of geography. While images of OBOR show grand railways traveling through Russia — or perhaps the novelist Sorokin’s superhighway — the reality is that unless these “belts” have lucrative markets along the way, shipping remains the cheapest way for the PRC to move goods by an order of magnitude. While the opening of Arctic shipping may help Russia in the short term, it is simply more cost effective for the PRC to bypass Russia and seek transport (and markets) by other means. Additionally, the World Bank has pointed out that Russia is not within the PRC’s economic corridor and that the benefits of the program are far likelier to flow to regions such as Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia. It is also worth bearing in mind that Russia and the PRC remain geopolitical competitors, seeking influence in Central Asia and elsewhere. Both view formal alliances or constraints on their actions warily and would rather decide issues on a case-by-case basis — making anything beyond the rhetoric of a “special relationship” unlikely. Institutions such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and Eurasian Economic Union remain, for Russia-China relations, more akin to forums for discussion than organizations for long-term action, such as the European Union and NATO are.

Finally, there is the issue of Russia’s attitude and disposition more broadly (as well as that of the PRC). Despite having loose, common grievances against the West, it is unlikely that relations would be any easier with the PRC in the driver’s seat. Russia likely would have the same problem it has with the West — resentment at not being treated as an equal. This is fundamentally because it isn’t one and certainly is not going to gain in stature by 2050, given the trends previously mentioned. Under a Chinese new order, the PRC would be even more likely to actively pursue its interests and ignore Russian ones. Russia might even grow wistful and miss its old geopolitical competitors in the Occident.

Potential strategies

But futures analysts must consider a range of alternate futures. If the PRC and Russia do grow closer, what might be the West’s options? Four strategies to deal with Russia and forestall the PRC present themselves: a new Marshall Plan, “self-strengthening” under the PRC, integrating Russia, or confronting and isolating (… forever).

A new Marshall Plan would entail the U.S., its allies and partners competing with OBOR by offering developing nations, and those the PRC is trying to capture, access to other markets and opportunities. This would involve spending a great deal on infrastructure, investments and other development projects. It would be nation building for new markets, creating an alternative to the PRC and opening more attractive opportunities to countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Nations could specialize in niches of the global economy (something Japan tried in South and East Asia in the 1990s). It would be a big, expensive plan with all the drawbacks that come with a project of that size. This would require a huge amount of coordination and agreement, which Russia and the PRC would try to undermine at every opportunity. Yet, there are precedents — the EU, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the work of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But have the days of George C. Marshall, Franklin D. Roosevelt, reconstruction and nation building come to an end?

Option two would be self-strengthening under the PRC, a phenomenon the Chinese are intimately familiar with. Following the reign of unpopular but powerful emperors, or even lower-level, corrupt officials, actors would simply bide their time and gather what resources they could while avoiding the pitfalls of the regime. This could involve the West letting the PRC take the lead under OBOR, working out where it can be used to its advantage and making what profits it can while the going is good. Developed nations could integrate into the PRC’s supply chain, offer opportunities for Chinese investment and smooth the way for  the PRC (e.g., via World Trade Organization market economy status). This would also entail accepting Chinese-mandated limits on political speech and interventions that nations could engage in — for example, criticizing the PRC’s human rights abuses or protecting the status of Taiwan. Indeed, Facebook, Google, Disney and other companies have already shown a willingness to engage in exactly this sort of self-strengthening (with some hitches) and may be willing to do more. The National Basketball Association controversy in the PRC in late 2019 shows what this would entail — the opportunity to make billions in Chinese markets but no room for negative tweets about the PRC’s actions in Hong Kong. But are we willing to pay this price?

A third option would be the most drastic — avoiding a close relationship between Russia and the PRC by reintegrating Russia into Europe and the global community. Given Russia’s recent adventurism and delinquency, this may be hard to embrace. But it would isolate the PRC as the only major holdout to the post-World War II international order. Allowing Russia back into the club would allow the West to make use of its influence in Central Asia and the Middle East to shut out the PRC from its main OBOR objectives. It would involve negotiating an end to current Russian hostilities and outsider status (almost certainly to the disadvantage of Ukraine), and let Russia achieve the European integration it hoped for prior to 2008. The U.S. and its allies would have to accept a Russian sphere of influence, as well as the Russian way of doing business within it and possibly in the rest of Europe (a way which generally involves petro-politics and varying degrees of corruption or gray-zone legality). This would incentivize Russia and its dependencies to work with the West, while closing out the PRC, almost in a mirror image of U.S. President Richard Nixon’s 1972 opening to China. But can Western nations live forever with Russia as it is now? And can they sell important allies short to achieve it?

The final option would be for Western nations to continue their current approach, now and forever. This would continue the strategy of profiting from the PRC and Russia where they can while reducing dependence — and confronting them strongly on nonnegotiable issues. It would push the PRC and Russia to bend to the post-World War II consensus, while acknowledging that this is likely to have limited success. It would continue to turn economic problems (OBOR) into security problems (a parallel system, and therefore a base of Chinese power). The U.S. and its allies would have to advance significantly into gray-zone and hybrid warfare to counter Russian and Chinese below-the-threshold operations. It would entail the creation of parallel economic and political systems, while pushing nations between the two blocs to pick sides. Ultimately, it would contemplate complete economic decoupling and disinvestment from the PRC and Russia, potentially leading to Chinese instability and Russian collapse. But the question remains, what would be the desired end state of this strategy?

Future relations

There is no obvious reason to believe that a close Russia-China relationship is more likely than their current relationship of convenience and occasional strategic alliance. Yet, it is useful to contemplate, and attempting to formulate responses to a range of alternate futures allows Western nations to expand their thinking and the realm of the strategically possible. Several things are clear: Western nations must think carefully about their preferred future, consider the range of scenarios and how they might respond to them to get there and keep a sharp eye for indicators in which direction events are heading.

Andrei Danilovich Komiaga may not get his desired comeuppance for the complacent gentlemen of Nice, but achieving a better future than the dystopia Sorokin envisions will require a great deal of planning, forethought, futures analysis and smart strategy from Western nations and from their future leaders.