Is glob­al­iza­tion on ir­re­versible retreat?

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

Shock waves gen­er­ated by “black swan” events have been and are still be­ing felt by the world. Tar­geted against the West-led glob­al­iza­tion, they started with the United King­dom vot­ing to break away from the Euro­pean Union, and helped Don­ald Trump to win the United States presidential elec­tion in Novem­ber. Re­cently, the Repub­lic of Korea par­lia­ment voted to im­peach Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye, mark­ing a turn­ing point in the coun­try’s pol­i­tics and fu­el­ing con­cerns that the “only cer­tain­ties are un­cer­tain­ties” in to­day’s world.

The world is in con­sis­tent tran­si­tion, a process that may con­tinue into the 2030s, even the 2040s, ac­cord­ing to the 2010 Global Strate­gic Trends is­sued by the Devel­op­ment, Con­cepts and Doc­trine Cen­ter of the UK.

The ma­jor chal- lenges fac­ing the economies across the world in­clude cli­mate change, in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion, re­source short­age, and the shift­ing of power from the West to the East. More im­por­tant, the West-led glob­al­iza­tion seems to be go­ing down­hill. West­ern pow­ers like the US and the UK are no longer able to pro­vide enough pub­lic goods to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, nor can the emerg­ing economies im­me­di­ately fill the void.

That, to some ex­tent, has caused tur­bu­lence across economies. The ex­ten­sive use of mass me­dia, too, has dealt a blow to the au­thor­ity of gov­ern­ments and main­stream elite val­ues.

From a mid­dle-term per­spec­tive, the dom­i­nance of neo-lib­er­al­ism in the postCold War era is re­spon­si­ble for many of to­day’s prob­lems. It has not just widened the in­come gap in a num­ber of economies but also led to high un­em­ploy­ment in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor of West­ern coun­tries be­cause of ex­ces­sive out­sourc­ing. As such, Brexit, bit­ter and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive as it might be, rep­re­sents the will of many anti-elite vot­ers who are wor­ried about more than just the refugee cri­sis in Europe.

Even af­ter eight years, the world has not over­come the im­pact of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis. And that has con­trib­uted to peo­ple’s re­sent­ment against glob­al­iza­tion. The rise of pop­ulism in some ad­vanced economies and op­po­si­tion to glob­al­iza­tion have a lot to do with the shrink­ing mid­dle class and rising un­em­ploy­ment among youths.

De­spite the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, many gov­ern­ments re­fused to ac­cept the dis­con­nect be­tween in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions and thus didn’t even try to re­form their in­sti­tu­tions to meet the chal­lenges of eco­nomic glob­al­iza­tion.

The West’s ar­du­ous ef­forts to pro­mote “universal val­ues” and West­ern democ­racy have, in fact, back­fired. The priv­i­leged few in the US have man­aged to tighten their grip on the coun­try’s wealth and power, mis­lead­ing the un­der­dogs to op­pose glob­al­iza­tion and wrongly make China the scape­goat for the US’ eco­nomic woes. The EU has been strug­gling to tide over the fi­nan­cial and sovereignty debt crises, and to solve the po­lit­i­cal and so­cial prob­lems cre­ated by the in­flux of refugees from the Mid­dle East. And the fact that the EU has been hit hard by ter­ror­ism in the past few years has cast a shadow over the fate of glob­al­iza­tion. It is thus clear that in these try­ing cir­cum­stances, the world needs a more in­clu­sive, bal­anced and open eco­nomic glob­al­iza­tion, as pro­posed by China and other emerg­ing economies.

The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Ren­min Univer­sity of China.

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