Glob­al­iza­tion with­out dis­con­tents

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

Pop­ulism and pro­tec­tion­ism are on the rise across the world. Some re­cent de­vel­op­ments in Europe and the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump as US pres­i­dent seem to have added strength to the voices op­posed to glob­al­iza­tion. These are huge chal­lenges con­fronting the world. What makes these chal­lenges more com­pli­cated is the qual­ity and com­plex­ity of global in­ter­de­pen­dence to­day.

Ad­vances in in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy, trans­porta­tion, the de­vel­op­ment and spread of nu­clear weapons, and the degra­da­tion of the global en­vi­ron­ment have made the world more in­ter­de­pen­dent than ever be­fore as well as more vul­ner­a­ble.

These global chal­lenges can­not be over­come with­out the ef­forts of all par­ties, for which mul­ti­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions and ef­fi­cient global in­sti­tu­tions are nec­es­sary. And no is­sue, whether it be cli­mate change, nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion, cy­ber­se­cu­rity or global trade, can be re­solved with­out Sino-US co­op­er­a­tion.

Af­ter the end of the Cold War, the United States emerged as the dom­i­nant eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal power. But its po­si­tion has been erod­ing with the rise of emerg­ing economies, es­pe­cially China, with the shift­ing global bal­ance of power trig­ger­ing a de­bate on China and the world or­der.

The US prin­ci­ples on se­cu­rity, global trade and pol­i­tics are no longer uni­ver­sally ac­cepted, and global is­sues can­not be re­solved through con­sen­sus due to the dif­fer­ences in Amer­i­can and Chi­nese ap­proaches to tack­ling the is­sues.

Since 2008, the sig­nif­i­cant role played by China in G20 in­di­cates the coun­try’s in­creas­ing im­por­tance in global gov­er­nance. China em­pha­sizes the ne­ces­sity of mul­ti­lat­eral ap­proach to is­sues, and re­spects na­tional sovereignty and the prin­ci­ple of non­in­ter­fer­ence in a coun­try’s in­ter­nal af­fairs, which have helped it greatly ben­e­fit from glob­al­iza­tion.

And al­though China has not yet for­mu­lated a clear strat­egy for its role as a ris­ing global power and its com­mit­ment to global causes, the prin­ci­ple that will de­fine its en­gage­ment with the world is mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, on the other hand, seems to be lim­it­ing the US’ global role, which marks a de­par­ture from decades of con­sen­sus that Wash­ing­ton’s lead­er­ship is in­dis­pens­able to in­ter­na­tional sta­bil­ity. Trump has crit­i­cized glob­al­iza­tion, which he be­lieves is the key rea­son for the US’ trou­bles. He be­lieves that bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion among ma­jor pow­ers, rather than re­gional and mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion, can “Make Amer­ica Great Again”. And he con­sid­ers the Euro­pean Union as an an­te­dilu­vian eco­nomic model and has pulled the US out of the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship agree­ment. All these sug­gest global af­fairs do not oc­cupy cen­ter stage in Trump’s scheme of things.

There­fore, the US is not likely to help de­sign poli­cies for the sta­bil­ity of the world econ­omy. In­stead, Trump will fo­cus more on Amer­i­can in­ter­ests. In fact, Wash­ing­ton seems to be re­sort­ing to pro­tec­tion­ism, bi­lat­er­al­ism and uni­lat­er­al­ism, and is least in­ter­ested in ful­fill­ing former US pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s prom­ise to help re­form in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions. But that does not mean Wash­ing­ton will fully aban­don the mul­ti­lat­eral ar­chi­tec­ture that it has dom­i­nated since the end of World War II.

In this con­text, the China-led Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank should be seen as an at­tempt to help im­prove global eco­nomic gov­er­nance. As a ris­ing global power, China is still on the learn­ing curve. So it is cru­cial for China and the US both to rec­og­nize each other’s pri­or­ity ar­eas, com­mon in­ter­ests, and dif­fer­ences. And they should make con­certed ef­forts to cap­i­tal­ize on the com­mon in­ter­ests and set­tle the dif­fer­ences be­fore they turn into con­flicts.

De­spite their dif­fer­ences over the fu­ture of glob­al­iza­tion and di­ver­gent views on global is­sues, both sides ac­cord the high­est pri­or­ity to eco­nomic growth and sus­tain­abil­ity, for which good global eco­nomic gov­er­nance is an ab­so­lute ne­ces­sity.

An up­dated nar­ra­tive on glob­al­iza­tion and global gov­er­nance is there­fore a pre­req­ui­site for global eco­nomic pros­per­ity. Shared in­ter­ests with­out sub­stan­tial un­der­stand­ing of the pri­or­i­ties and chal­lenges will make co­op­er­a­tion and co­or­di­na­tion in global eco­nomic gov­er­nance in­ef­fi­cient and fruit­less. And this calls for the two great pow­ers to step out of their “dis­courses” and set­tle their dif­fer­ences for the bet­ter­ment of the global econ­omy.

The au­thor is a re­search fel­low at the School of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, Sun Yat-sen Uni­ver­sity.

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