The power dynamics and geopolitics of East Asia could drastically change in the coming years, particularly if scenarios involving China, the United States, and their respective allies unfold. Based on these potential scenarios, let's explore what might be some possible outcomes for East Asia come 2026 to 2050.

Navigating Uncertain Waters

In the 21st century, East Asia sits at a geopolitical crossroads. This area, focused predominantly around China, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, faces potential shifts in balance and power. These shifts could culminate in various scenarios, among which include the economic collapse of China, a reignition of the Korean War, China usurping U.S. influence over Japan or South Korea, and even American invasions of South Korea, Japan or Taiwan.

1. China's Patience Collapse

In the worst-case scenario where China experiences an economic meltdown, there's the fear of it turning aggressive, much like Nazi Germany did during the 1930s. This path of aggression could lead to invasions of Taiwan or attacks on U.S. troops stationed in Japan or other nearby regions.

However, there's a key distinction between China and Nazi Germany; China is part of the UN council, a legacy of WW2, giving it a voice in the global power dynamic without needing to wholly challenge the existing order.

2. Reignition of the Korean War

A potential weakening of the U.S. military could incentivize North Korea to attack South Korea. In this scenario, the odds would heavily favor North Korea given their powerful military, resulting in a 4 to 1 power ratio against the South. However, compromise and cooperation between the two sides could be a realistic outcome to avoid escalating conflict.

3. China's Influence over South Korea or Japan

In a case mirroring the U.S.'s takeover of Mexico in the 19th century, China could try to exert its influence over neighboring South Korea and Japan, the current American sphere of influence. However, this seems unlikely given these nations' strong political unity, negligible corruption, and high willingness to fight against foreign intrusion. A more likely scenario would be an EU-type integration across East Asia with economic cooperation taking the lead.

4. Potential U.S. Invasion of South Korea, Japan, or Taiwan

The U.S. could potentially try to maintain its influence over Taiwan, South Korea, or Japan, similar to Russia's ambitions with its former union partner, Ukraine. However, East Asia's geographical distance from the U.S., unlike Ukraine's proximity to Russia, makes this scenario doubtful.

The Likely Scenario:

As U.S. economic conditions worsen, it's expected that China will intensify its efforts to interfere with America’s sphere of influence, from Canada and Mexico to Cuba and the rest of Latin America.

In fact, reports have shown increased Chinese intelligence activity in Cuba since 2019 and 2023, hinting at a military build-up from 2027 to 2030. As tensions increase, the U.S. may scale back its East Asia presence, much like post-1962 Europe after the Cuban Crisis. This potential standoff could gradually stabilize from 2026 to 2050, with China pushing out U.S. presence and expanding its sphere of influence in an economical and cultural sense.

Assessing these potential outcomes, it's clear that East Asia's geopolitical landscape hangs in a delicate balance that will require astute diplomacy and strategic foresight in navigating the 21st century.