2020 has turned out to be one of the most unpredictable years in recent human memory, but now that we are towards the fag end, we can predict which way the world is going from here. The trends of 2020 give a hint of how the world will look in 2021. A lot will change next year, while some things like the ‘elected’ President of Belarus, for example, will remain constant. Here’s a look at how the world looks in 2021.
First things first, the US President Donald Trump is back in the White House for a second term with an even bigger mandate and Chinese markets have crashed catastrophically. China’s growth story is more or less over, as the US keeps up the pressure on the Chinese economy, while most other countries push ahead with the economic boycott of China.
What about the Pandemic? COVID-19 scare is receding, but the emotional scars and economic distress created by the Wuhan virus will take time to heal. Meanwhile, the vaccine race has started with Russia, China, the United States, India and the United Kingdom, and many other countries go all-out to push their vaccines in the rest of the world. The vaccine race is in full swing and an effective vaccine has become the key to tremendous soft power and influence.
In terms of plain geopolitics, the world has started shifting drastically. North Korea has stopped acting like a lackey for China. And with Trump in office for a second term, Pyongyang is looking for more and more rapprochement with the United States.
Turkey is however the worst-hit and continuing at the present rate of belligerence, Ankara has made enemies all across the Middle East and the Western world. It is still a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) but no NATO ally is ready to back the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The US is imposing reckless sanctions on Ankara and embroiled in a deep economic crisis, Turkey is staring at a real coup.
The Middle East itself is much calmer than it used to be in recent memory. Turkey-backed Azerbaijan’s onslaught in Armenia has been weighed down by France and Russia. Also, the entire Arab world has now made peace with Israel and has recognised it formally. Within Israel, West Bank annexation plans have become more plausible and the movement for a Jewish Third Temple has also gained pace in the Jewish country.
As for Iran, its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei keeps on issuing the threat of wiping Israel from the face of the earth. But Trump’s massive victory has fomented more trouble for Tehran. Trump continues his ‘maximum pressure’ policy on Iran.
The Indo-Pacific too has changed drastically. With Turkey on the verge of being kicked out from NATO and the general anachronism surrounding NATO, the Indo-Pacific has become the strategic hotspot of the world. The QUAD comprising India, Japan, the US and Australia has got formalised and more and more countries want to become a part of an extended QUAD.
China is the biggest loser in the Indo-Pacific. It just went through an intense winter confrontation with India, something that can be described as more than a stand-off but less than a limited war. India’s rugged troops capable of operating at high altitudes have given the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) a bloody nose and the status quo ante in Ladakh and Chinese occupied Aksai Chin has been altered in favour of India.
The tables have turned in Eastern Ladakh. India has not only restored the status quo ante, but is also looking to reclaim that part of Ladakh which was illegally occupied by China after the 1962 war. Meanwhile, the Global Times, depressed as ever, keeps tweeting more videos of PLA troop exercises in Tibet.
China is also facing trouble in Europe. Chinese ally Angela Merkel has retired from active politics and a China hawk has come to power in Germany. The absence of Merkel makes Macron the biggest leader in the European Union and he leads the Brussels-based body into a tough anti-China policy.
On its Northern fronts, China is facing more trouble. Putin is not taking Chinese claims over the Russian Far East and the Arctic lightly. A tense Russia-China border is thus breaking the myth of Sino-Russian brotherhood. At the same time, China is facing the heat in the East China Sea where Japan and the US have decided to give China a bloody nose every time it tries to intrude into Japanese waters near Senkaku.
Time for some #tfiglobal predictions. How the world will look at the start of 2021?
Follow the thread. 11 tweets to go.
— tfiglobal (@tfiglobal) October 2, 2020
On a whole, Trump’s re-election has finalised the US-China Cold War as the new normal. Putin, who has his own issues with China, decides to seek rapprochement with Trump and reach a rough understanding for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. In the Middle East, Trump has left behind a complete vacuum but Emmanuel Macron and Putin join hands to beat back Erdoğan’s advances.
Russia is no longer the enemy of the democratic world, as Moscow reaches an understanding with the US and France. China is the only enemy of the free world in 2021.