In this annual report from Stratfor Global Intelligence, Vice President of Strategic Intelligence Rodger Baker previews the year ahead by focusing on China, Russia and the United States.
2011 is a year of postponement, a year of preparation. Major countries are looking forward to elections and government changes in 2012, and that's already starting to affect the way in which they act this year. At STRATFOR we normally don't pay too much attention to elections; we don't see government change as fundamentally changing the issues that drive nations, that shape and constrain nations. However, in the shorter term the politics do have a strong impact on the way in which countries respond to these external pressures.
Three of the major powers are facing leadership changes or elections in 2012: China, Russia and the United States. China continues to face the fallout from the global economic crisis. One of the things that that highlighted was not the strength of the Chinese economy but the weakness of their system. In China, the economic realities are starting to catch up to the gilded dream. The Chinese have had to replace much of their export-based economy with government-run infrastructure development and investment. This is causing massive expenditures, and it has also highlighted the difficulty for the Chinese to make the transition from an economy based on exports to an economy based on consumption.