GTFS: Global Trends and Future Scenarios Index

China and India, 2025: A Comparative Assessment



In the past century, China and India have experienced frequently rivalrous relations, including two occasions of military conflict in 1956 and 1962, sharp changes in the issues and venues of their rivalry, and sometimes quite different stances toward the United States and its policies. These circumstances provide a backdrop for our report, although our approach is more narrowly focused, while also looking forward to the two countries’ future prospects rather than to their histories.

The purpose of this document is to assess the prospects of India and China through 2025 in four domains: demography, macroeconomics, science and technology, and defense spending and procurement. We seek to answer these questions: Who’s ahead? By how much? and Why? As the second question implies, we strive for quantitative answers as much as possible. In the process, we try to assess the balance between advantages and disadvantages that China and India will possess 15 years hence. This balance is relevant for potential cooperation between the two countries, no less than for their potential competition and rivalry. Although our focus is on quantitative answers, we repeatedly acknowledge the uncertainties created for the assessment by such qualitative unknowns as whether or not each country may encounter internal civil unrest, political disruption, external conflict, or natural disasters.