China to be top economy, India to follow

Washington, May 20:

America’s top spymaster sees either India or the US becoming the world’s second largest economy in the next 25 years with China at the top in this century of Asia.

But thanks to their positive demographics, the world’s two largest democracies, India and the US, would have a much brighter future, director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told graduating students of George Washington University.

“We’re now projecting the four largest economies in 20-25 years. Now the summary line is — it’s the Century of Asia,” he said, explaining that the work of the intelligence community is not just spying and counter-spying.

“The number one economy in the world will be China. We’re debating over who’s number two. Is it the US or is it India? Number four will be Japan, of course,” McConnell said.

“Now if you think about four of the largest economies in the world either being in Asia or having a footprint in Asia, our West Coast, it makes you think about how the next century might unfold,” the spymaster said.

Demographically, China, Japan, Europe, Russia all have negative demographic trends, he said, “Think of it as a cliff that falls off the edge.” But in the other two, the US and India — demographics are positive — India for its growth rate, its birth rate and the US for immigration, McConnell said. “For those two reasons India and the US in addition to being democratic societies that tend to solve problems, it’s a much brighter future.”

As another example of the intelligence agency’s study of world issues and trends, the US intelligence chief declared as other US officials have said before that Al Qaeda had found a safe haven in Pakistan’s Tribal Area.

With 1,500 litres of hydrogen peroxide in Al Qaeda’s possession, they were going to make explosives, commercially available material, to kill lots of people, McConnell said. The over 100,000 strong US intelligence community with an annual budget in excess of $40 billion is constantly balancing sources and methods and secrecy in its effort to help and protect the US, he said.

“It’s an exciting mission. It’s around the world,” McConnell further said.