The risk of international conflict will increase in the next two decades as China, India and Russia become major powers and competition for resources grows, the top U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday.
The next 20 years of transition to a new international system will be fraught with risks and challenges with the rise of emerging powers and a historic transfer of wealth and economic power from West to East, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told an intelligence conference in Nashville, Tennessee.
"Strategic rivalries are most likely to revolve around trade, demographics, access to natural resources, investments and technological innovation," McConnell said in a transcript of a speech provided by his office.
If current trends persist, by 2025, China will be en route to becoming the world's largest economy, a major military power and likely the world's largest importer of natural resources, McConnell said.
India and Russia would be close behind with more wealth and power, he said.
Economic and population growth will put increasing pressure on a number of strategic resources, such as energy, food and water, Reuters reports.
"Just think about it: 1.4 billion people without these basic necessities will create significant tensions on the globe, tensions that world bodies and larger states will have to contend (with)," McConnell said.
Other intelligence officials in recent weeks have forecast declining U.S. dominance in the near future, but McConnell described the coming change in starker terms. Intelligence analysts see China, India and perhaps Russia ascending to new positions of power, a shift being driven by a massive transfer of wealth and manufacturing capability from the West to Eastern countries, particularly China, the Washington Post reports.
"China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country," he said. "China will also start becoming a major military power by 2025 [and] will likely be the world's largest importer of natural resources and the largest contributor to pollution."