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International relations

China's growing clout named the No. 1 risk for 2018

Beijing rises in vacuum left by US retreat, consulting group says

NEW YORK -- China's broadening influence in the world, both political and economic, is the largest global risk for 2018, the Eurasia Group, an American research company, declared Tuesday.

In its annual report released at the start of the year, the Eurasia Group names the top 10 political and economic risks for the year.

For 2017, "Independent America" led by Donald Trump was named the top risk, with the report predicting instability due to the country's retreat from leadership in addressing global issues as the new president pushed his "America First" policy.

For 2018, China's growing international influence is named the top risk. China is expected to have more sway over other countries via its big Belt and Road Initiative and infrastructure investments. Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer describes the rise of China in the absence of U.S. leadership as "China loves a vacuum" in the report.

On the technology front as well, China's standing is rising in such cutting-edge areas as artificial intelligence and supercomputers, which is likely to increase friction with the U.S., traditionly dominant in information technology, the report says.

The No. 2 risk is "accidents," or missteps or misjudgments that could trigger international confrontations as the influence of advanced nations weakens. The likelihood of geopolitical risks involving countries like North Korea and Syria has risen significantly, the report says.

"Mexico," named the No. 4 risk, is probably a topic of interest to many Japanese companies. The election of anti-American candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as president this year could overturn the current administration's policy of courting foreign investment, so overseas businesses deeply involved in the country could take a severe hit.

The report cited a "global tech cold war" as risk No. 3, and chilling relations between the U.S. and Iran and threats to the nuclear deal as the No. 5 risk. The U.K., nearing its deadline for negotiating an exit from the European Union, is named the No. 8 risk.

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