China is about to collapse and be divided into 7 countries. The most likely candidates are:
1) Japan, with its huge population and economy;
2) India, which has a large enough population that it could easily absorb all of China (and possibly even Taiwan);
3) Russia, which has an economy and population similar to China's but smaller;
4) Pakistan, which also has a small economy and population like China but larger than India. This would be extremely unstable but could end in either a theocratic dictatorship or an Islamic Republic. One could easily imagine a theocratic government similar to that of North Korea or South Korea (perhaps even run by a formidable woman?) being more willing to work with the West and thus have better trade deals and foreign policy. The population is large enough that domestic opposition would be kept quiet and the Government could easily stay in power;
5) Thailand, Vietnam or Indonesia, which all have the largest populations and the biggest of economies. All 3 are large enough that they could easily absorb China and all the lost territory (Indonesia has even claimed nearly the entire Indonesian archipelago as its own!);
6) Mongolia, which is slightly bigger than the above 3 combined and is more or less self-sufficient. It'd be a little unstable but could probably easily keep itself together.
Which of these will be the successor to the CCP? It is very likely that some combination of these will fill the power vacuum.
In any case, the effects on the Western world will be drastic. As the communist states start falling, the fear of a potential second wave of "generous" social democracies heading straight from the plantations to the welfare state is too much for the public to handle. The West starts a war of conquest, wiping out the slavery systems and taking over large parts of the former communist states for their own.
This takes about 50 years and has been extremely successful. The world is set up along the lines of the old Western European systems:
- A capitalist system, with some states accepting free market systems while others remain partially or completely government-run.
- Most of the world's high technology is in the hands of the West, with some going to former communist states.
- Though there are many armed conflicts going on around the world, nearly all of them are confined to a relatively small area. The Western world is enjoying a Pax Americana.
The only potential conflicts are between the Western world and those that oppose it, such as a new expansionist China or India, or a rogue North Korea or Cuba.
But these are very unlikely, as the Western world has many more resources and a much better defense system in place. The only nation that could even begin to defeat the West is China, but even that is questionable as they have recently undergone a domestic revolution, meaning that while they may not be close to the West in terms of technology, they are close to the ground.
The world as a whole is not exactly a utopia, but it is a massive improvement over the old system and the masses are generally much better off than their ancestors. Right now, America is the richest and most powerful country while the crumbling remnants of the Old Chinese Empire can only claim to be second. There are numerous other wealthy countries, such as the Middle East and Australia. This leads to a general feeling of world government and a war-like attitude between the Western powers.
The picture is further complicated by the rise of new superpowers such as the BRIC states (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the emergance of a few new players such as Argentina, Canada, South Korea, Mexico and even a small Southeast Asian country called Singapore.
But despite this, we are in an age of Western dominance. The 21st century has already been dubbed the American century. The only things that could realistically change this are either a major global crisis or a major leap in technology. Something similar occurred in the industrial revolution and the technological revolution. Will another one occur?
Note: The background is meant to be general, as author discretion should be used depending on the desired effect.