Brexit tells world to change path of glob­al­iza­tion

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS - The au­thor is a se­nior writer with China Daily. zhuyuan@chi­

The im­pli­ca­tions of Brexit, or Bri­tain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union, could ex­tend far be­yond the EU. It could be an an­ti­dote to the down­side of glob­al­iza­tion. Or, it could back­fire on the prob­lem­atic global econ­omy.

Even many Bri­tons in the “leave” camp were sur­prised that the ma­jor­ity of the coun­try’s peo­ple had voted to leave the EU. With the num­ber of peo­ple de­mand­ing an­other ref­er­en­dum on the rise, it seems most of the vot­ers who cast their bal­lots to leave the EU just wanted to reg­is­ter a protest to re­mind the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment of the prob­lems or po­ten­tial prob­lems the coun­try could face in the near fu­ture.

Yet the fact that 57 per­cent of the up­per class wanted to stay in the EU while the mid­dle class was fairly di­vided and twothirds of the pop­u­la­tion be­low them sup­ported Brexit— which a post-elec­tion anal­y­sis pub­lished in The Times, Lon­don re­vealed— speaks vol­umes of the dis­sat­is­fac­tion the ma­jor­ity of Bri­tons felt be­cause of the sit­u­a­tion cre­ated by glob­al­iza­tion or neo-lib­er­al­ism.

Thanks to glob­al­iza­tion, in­te­gra­tion has been the most fre­quently used word over the past decades, with ma­jor coun­tries try­ing to in­te­grate the world into one eco­nomic en­tity to fa­cil­i­tate free trade. The es­tab­lish­ment of such a huge global plat­form for busi­ness has in­deed fa­cil­i­tated vi­brant eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties and in­no­va­tive en­deav­ors. The liv­ing stan­dards of a large num­ber of peo­ple in emerg­ing coun­tries have im­proved. China, with a lit­tle less than one-fourth of the world pop­u­la­tion, is a case in point.

Yet glob­al­iza­tion has also been widen­ing the chasm be­tween the haves and have-nots, and the world’s wealth has been in­creas­ingly con­cen­trat­ing in the hands of a fewelites, both in de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. And China is no ex­cep­tion.

... it should serve as a warn­ing that some­thing needs to be done to at least change the way glob­al­iza­tion has been prac­ticed un­til now.

The 2008 global fi­nan­cial cri­sis was the re­sult of the in­sa­tiable greed of bankers in­Wall Street, who de­signed dif­fer­ent types of de­riv­a­tives to ca­jole clients into in­vest­ing in pa­pers whose face val­ues were much higher than their ac­tual worth. And the Oc­cu­pyWall Street move­ment in late 2011 prin­ci­pal slo­gan, “We’re the 99 per­cent”, re­flected the frus­tra­tion of a large num­ber of un­der­dogs in the world’s most ad­vanced coun­try.

The same is true for other places in the world. In China, while a fewChi­nese names fig­ure on the list of the world’s wealth­i­est peo­ple, the gap be­tween the haves and have-nots has been widen­ing at an un­prece­dented pace.

If glob­al­iza­tion con­tin­ues to give shape to a world in which wealth con­tin­ues to con­verge in the hands of a small group of elites and the un­equal dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth con­tin­ues to take its toll on an in­creas­ing num­ber of un­der­dogs across the world, the dis­in­te­gra­tion of eco­nomic unions such as the EU could be­come the rule rather than the ex­cep­tion.

If the in­creas­ingly se­ri­ous threat from ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism also has some­thing to do with the side ef­fects of glob­al­iza­tion or is the re­sult of someWestern coun­tries’ forcible ef­forts to hoist their de­vel­op­ment models and val­ues on other coun­tries, Brexit will likely be just the be­gin­ning of the dis­in­te­gra­tion of the world econ­omy aswe know it to­day.

We Chi­nese have a say­ing, if in­te­gra­tion is too long a process, dis­in­te­gra­tion is in­evitable, and vice-versa.

It­may be too early to con­clude that Brexit is the har­bin­ger of the dis­in­te­gra­tion of theEUor the col­lapse of glob­al­iza­tion. But it would be un­wise for world lead­ers and econ­o­mists to not pay ur­gent at­ten­tion to the prob­lems glob­al­iza­tion has cre­ated over the past cou­ple of decades.

What­ever im­pact Brexit will have on the EU or on the Bri­tish econ­omy, it should serve as a warn­ing that some­thing needs to be done to at least change the way glob­al­iza­tion has been prac­ticed un­til now.

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