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Power games in a divided world

In this scenario, China rises to the climate leader. The trade war accelerates and the world is divided into two digital blocks and a trading area.

In its Belt & Road project, China is increasing its leverage and increasing investment internationally. China has a strong role in drawing up the rules of the game, as the focus of international trade is in Asia.

China is using climate policy to increase its own interests and influence internationally. Renewable energies and energy storage are invested heavily.

China is spreading control over capitalism as well as a rigorous "Social & Climate Credit" system, in which the social lending system is adding emission-related factors. The credit system decides who and when to buy flights, car, petrol or meat. Personal carbon budgets will be introduced gradually.

In this scenario, the European economy is declining, the union's lines are further racking and the EU's global negotiating position is deteriorating. The increasing cyber-attacks and information-engagement accelerating blocking. China and Russia are behind the European digital eastern border. The internets also differentiate and recall the time when we only had one internet.

Future scenarios

The scenarios presented here are descriptions of potential future scenarios of the external operating environment concerning Finland's competitiveness from the present until 2030.

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  • China's economic growth continues and Belt & Road InitiaChina makes large investments in renewable energy. China increases investments around the world. Chinese holdings in other countries increase and China starts to acquire media companies in target countries. Information warfare intensifies, leading to increased distrust between the West and the East.
  • The digital silk road expands. China introduces its surveillance technology in other countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East. China's influence over these countries grows.
  • China's internal conflicts and disputes with Hong Kong and Taiwan are resolved "in a manner that benefits China". The international community's attention is on other things and China's influence is so significant that no sanctions are imposed as a result of the breach of international agreements.
  • Air pollution increasingly complicates people's lives in China
  • India benefits from rising production costs in China and a substantial proportion of production shifts to India, where labor is cheaper than in China. The polarization of society continues as a result of economic growth and reforms.
  • Trump is re-elected and the trade war continues, having a negative effect on economic growth in the USA in particular. In Europe and the USA, the economy stagnates and enters a recession.
  • The development of renewables in China (solar and wind energy) continues. New energy storage technologies are created in China.
  • China starts to react in the diminishing arable land. China shifts its eyes to the remote parts of Russia in the hope of gaining access to new farmland. Occasional conflicts emerge on the border between Russia and China.
  • Russian censorship increases and things get more difficult for minorities. The detachment of the global Internet and firewalls get stronger.
  • The EU is turbulent after Brexit. Several countries make various demands and threaten with leaving the EU. A common ground is not found easily. Countries establish direct bilateral trade relations with the USA, China and Africa.


  • Russia-based cyber attacks against several Western countries accelerate the world's division into blocs. EU and USA place strict sanctions on Russia, and technology is no longer exported from the West to Russia.
  • China and Russia manage to settle their territorial disputes. China sells technology to Russia, Russia sells food to China.
  • Interest in China's technologies increases in certain Eastern European countries. Hungary and Poland, for example, adopt Chinese surveillance technology.
  • India gradually implements China's social credit system and it is used, among other things, to exclude certain parts of population from society.
  • Russia and China try to influence elections in the USA and Europe ("Buying" politicians, some of whom get elected.)
  • The impacts of climate change become more severe: extreme weather phenomena are more common, there is a shortage of arable land in China and citizens put pressure on the country's leadership. The popularity and influence of the green movement gets hold in China.
  • China incorporates emissions-related features into its system of social credit: who can buy e.g. flights, a car, fuel, meat and so on, and when can they buy them? Personal carbon allowances are gradually introduced.
  • As the European and U.S. economies stagnate, their bargaining power relative to China is reduced and China dictates the terms of trade. This leads to an increase in Chinese influence with respect to the EU and the United States as well.
  • The democratic system of society appears very inefficient compared to China's decision-making. Democracy nevertheless maintains its hold in the Western countries, despite attempts to consolidate power among a smaller elite and heads of state also in Europe. State autonomy is restricted in the USA.
  • Economic sanctions imposed on Russia have a negative impact on the entire European economy. In addition, unstable ageing democracies are unpopular targets for investments and even the investments of an ally, the United States, are not allocated to Europe.



  • China exports its system of social&climate credit to countries within its sphere of influence, which already use Chinese (surveillance) technology. Due to China's significant holdings in these countries, it can practically order them to implement the system. The system leads to greater inequality, as satisfying the system's requirements is not possible for everyone.
  • China "owns" and guides decision-making in numerous countries through its investments and technology exports.
  • The Asian Monetary Fund is established on China's initiative. The AMF also provides funding to other countries in Europe and South America who are in economic difficulties, leading to increased economic policy influence for China in these countries.
  • China brands itself as the world's climate leader. There is some truth behind this branding: China has broadly implemented advanced renewable energy technology and efforts to reduce the citizens' emissions have been successful. At the same time, China uses climate action to control its own citizens and the citizens of countries in its sphere of influence and to advance its own interests.
  • In the West, China's system of social&climate credit is seen as problematic in terms of human rights but, in practice, they don't have the power to do much about it. And, on the other hand, this brings the world closer to global emissions targets.
  • Cooperation between Russia and China is deep. Russians use Chinese technology and the two countries have shared firewalls and troll farms. In practice, both Russia and China are behind Europe's digital eastern border. Tensions between Russia and Europe have grown.
  • European economy is still not growing, so the USA focuses on the Latin American market. U.S. interest in the Latin American market leads to deeper Pan-American cooperation.
  • USA tries to compete with China by reducing regulations concerning data and privacy protection. As Europe uses U.S. technology and services almost exclusively, the effects are also felt in Europe.


Implications for Finland

Power games in a divided world – Finland finds itself back between global superpowers

The opportunities of a small country to influence the terms of trade decrease under pressure from global superpowers and there is increased pressure to choose a side.

Finland has the ability and opportunities to operate between two superpowers and to engage in trade with both sides. Nevertheless, a constant risk of new sanctions looms in the business environment, and operating conditions are extremely insecure.

Companies whose products enjoy high demand in the Asian markets are most likely to succeed. Demand focuses especially on innovations related to renewable energy and the bioeconomy.


Finland is also seeing a rise in nationalism, and attitudes towards the EU and international cooperation have become more negative. The political climate in Finland is tense. The nation is divided on Finland's role and position: can we navigate between two world orders or should we place greater emphasis on European values (such as human rights and freedom of speech) and refrain from cooperating with parties that violate these?


The EU's internal market stagnates, and Finnish exports are increasingly focused on Asia. China imposes strict climate sanctions on its trade partners. The social and climate credit system harnessed to promote climate monitoring, in which the individual is the biggest payer, spreads not only in China, but also to other trade areas. As a result, Finnish companies are also required to allocate emissions per time of use per product.

China's different copyright system and higher demands concerning the transfer of foreign technology and data pose challenges to Finnish companies operating in China and companies that source products from the Chinese market.


The strategic significance of waterways and arable land to the superpowers is emphasized and the prices of the related raw materials increase. This ultimately helps balance the Finnish economy.


Traditional labor market organizations maintain their position on the labor market. The main counterforces are a stream of workers coming from China and Asia and the growth of the grey economy.


The status and activities of interest groups are influenced by the export markets in different sectors. Pressure to internationalize lobbying, for example in the energy sector, increases.


Plenty of capital and risk financing is available in the Asian markets. In the West, interest rates and share prices trail those in the East, pushing European money to seek diverse investments. In the context of the Silk Road initiative, Finland has invested in infrastructure and 5G/6G projects.


Finland invests in cybersecurity competence, which is seeing increasing demand around the world.

Implications for key industries

Bioeconomy and circular economy

China has an effective leadership position with respect to tightening emission limits and investments. China is a significant owner of raw materials in Africa, for example.

The circular economy and raw material flows and the boundaries between blocs guide production location decisions. Location is polarized either near raw materials and circular economy hubs or customers and logistics hubs. China guides the implementation of the circular economy in a centralized manner. Implementation elsewhere is slower and more regulation-driven.

The symbiosis between megacities and industrial circular economy hubs leads to scalable and duplicable giant investments. Small companies fall by the wayside.

Forests and waterways emerge as the focus of strategic geopolitics. The blocs need to ensure access to critical natural resources in the future.

Energy and cleantech

China and the USA move in different directions when it comes to climate policy. China emerges as a superpower of cleantech, renewable energy and smart energy networks, while the USA falls behind in technological development, eases climate regulations and extends its support for fossil energy.

The climate policy of a weak EU loses its effectiveness and there are growing regional differences in the forms of energy production.

The energy decisions of EU countries are linked to the bloc that each country identifies with. Some EU countries reach towards the USA and harmonize their climate regulations and energy systems with the USA to maintain trade relations. Some Eastern European countries enter into an energy partnership with China, receive generous subsidies, adopt Chinese technology and join China's supergrid.

The intelligence of energy networks increases and espionage and cyber sabotage related to energy networks increases between the blocs.

Health and wellbeing

Europe falls behind in development in the field of health and wellness technology. The stagnant European economy does not have sufficient capital for pharmaceutical development, and companies move to Asia.

China's social credit system awards people points for health-related activities. China is able to collect detailed health data on its citizens and influence their behavior. China has an advantage in the use of AI and data and the country takes major leaps in the field of health technology.

Many countries adopt a personal health and wellness budget that takes into account nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle factors affecting health. Citizens receive tax breaks for the desired behavior and, when people get sick, the price of treatment is lower for those who have verifiably followed a healthy lifestyle. Insurance companies collect increasingly accurate health data on their customers and price their services accordingly. Inequality increases.

Consumer business and tourism

Products and services are increasingly designed to suit Asian preferences, as that region has the largest potential customer base.

China and Asian countries maintain their position as leading travel destinations. China uses political measures to control the destination choices of travelers, creating increased pressure on the destination countries to please China and not take action to address human rights issues, for example. China also strengthens its own business activities in travel destinations. With regard to foreign travelers visiting China, China takes advantage of its visa practices to collect data.

Travel becomes a possibility only for a small group of privileged people. Surveillance technology is used to regulate travel and consumption, especially in Asia.


Intellectual property rights are ineffective across blocs, forcing companies to choose their markets and ecosystems based on the blocs. Internal standards emerge within blocs.

China and Russia engage in digital cooperation and have open interfaces between them. Russia adopts Chinese technology. Security threats intensify due to the stronger connection between the countries and the roll-out of 5G technology. Russia and China also cooperate in the area of cyber attacks and information warfare.

China launches a renminbi-based cryptocurrency, which is adopted not only in China but also in many African countries. With its mobile payment practices, Africa is fertile ground for growth.

Chinese surveillance technology spreads in African countries, and some Eastern European countries also adopt it.

China's success creates pressure to deregulate technological development and the use of data in the West.


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