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China 2020 Outlook: Escalating Sino-US Rivalry Reshapes Global Geopolitics

◎ Presenting our China 2020 outlook.


2019 saw the commencement of the “Battle of Waterloo” between the People’s Republic of China and the United States. We believe that the Sino-U.S. rivalry will reshape the global geopolitical environment in 2020.

We expect to see six broad trends in 2020:
1. China’s economy will continue to deteriorate on the whole in downward fluctuations. Several economic Gray Rhinos could come charging in 2020. While the Chinese Communist Party will further open up China’s markets and liberalize its financial sector, it will be unable to stem China’s economic decline; in the short term, however, the markets and economy could show some false signs of “recovery.”

2. The CCP factional struggle will intensify and Xi Jinping will face increased personal political risks. Clashes in the CCP could lead to political Black Swans.

3. The situation in Hong Kong will not quieten down. The PRC’s pernicious strategies and tactics to quell protests will anger the people of Hong Kong and inspire more unrest. Unrest in Hong Kong could potentially spread to the mainland.

4. The PRC could attempt a “Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis.” While we believe that the chances of a war breaking out is extremely low, we do not rule the occurrence of minor or “near miss” military incidents (擦槍走火). A PRC-ROC crisis will likely bring America, Taiwan, and Japan closer and boost Taiwan’s international profile.

5. The signing of trade deals between China and the United States will not alter the overall trajectory of escalation in the Sino-U.S. rivalry.

6. American leadership, pressure, and influence will give rise to a global “anti-CCP bloc.” U.S. foreign policy could create a new international order and world economic system.

Our China 2020 outlook contains 78 predictions covering eight categories: politics, the economy, military, society, Hong Kong, cross-strait relations, Sino-U.S. relations, and China and the world.

We previously forecasted China and China-related developments in 2018 (85%) and 2019 ( 81%) with a high degree of accuracy. The accuracy of our forecasts is due to our unique political risk assessment model. Businesses, investors, and governments looking for a crystal ball to make China-related plans in 2020 will be able to better navigate risks and seize opportunities with our China 2020 outlook.

Get our China 2020 outlook today.

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Dr Kun-Chin Lin, University Lecturer in Politics,
Deputy Director of the Centre for Geopolitics, Cambridge University
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