A game-chang­ing decade

Thus, la­bels like a hellish decade or a trou­bled decade are rather one sided. The past 10 years have been a decade of progress for many coun­tries, a time of global re­bal­anc­ing.

The Pak Banker - - Editorial - Deng Yushan

The world's po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic cen­ters of grav­ity have shifted dur­ing past 10 years with rise of de­vel­op­ing na­tions. As the first 10 years of the 21st cen­tury march into his­tory, is the world fi­nally bid­ding farewell to the so-called "decade from hell"? To many peo­ple in the United States, es­pe­cially those whose lives were changed by the Sept 11, 2001 ter­ror­ist attacks, by Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005, by Iraq War or the war in Afghanistan, or by the fi­nan­cial wipe­out in 2008, the an­swer is a re­sound­ing "yes".

Time mag­a­zine branded it "The Worst Decade Ever," re­act­ing to a decade that has seen the US mired in two un­winnable wars, its global dom­i­nance in a rel­a­tive, but nonethe­less, dis­cernible de­cline and the Amer­i­can Dream los­ing its luster.

Prom­i­nent among the var­i­ous mega-trends shap­ing the in­ter­na­tional land­scape through­out the decade has been the col­lec­tive rise of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, with the reins of global eco­nomic gov­er­nance pass­ing from the ex­clu­sive Group of Eight (G8) de­vel­oped coun­tries to the more rep­re­senta- tive Group of 20 (G20) ma­jor economies.

Thus, la­bels like a hellish decade or a trou­bled decade are rather one sided. The past 10 years have been a decade of progress for many coun­tries, a time of global re­bal­anc­ing.

Since China's WTO mem­ber­ship was for­mal­ized in 2001, the coun­try has grown into a stal­wart sup­porter of the mul­ti­lat­eral trade sys­tem and a lead­ing con­trib­u­tor to global eco­nomic growth. In 2009, when the world was strug­gling in the throes of the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial cri­sis and sub­se­quent eco­nomic down­turn, the bur­geon­ing Chi­nese econ­omy ac­counted for over 50 per­cent of global eco­nomic growth.

While it is im­pos­si­ble to know the ex­act fu­ture, the world has un­mis­tak­ably em­barked upon a road to­ward a more plu­ral­is­tic and bal­anced ar­chi­tec­ture. The po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic cen­ters of grav­ity have vis­i­bly shifted and the re­cent fi­nan­cial storm has ac­cel­er­ated the pace.

The North-South gap is nar­row­ing. South-South co­op­er­a­tion is boom­ing, and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions are un­der­go­ing fun­da­men­tal shifts. Co­or­di­nated cross­con­ti­nen­tal ac­tion is be­com­ing a grow­ing trend.

But, for all the talk about US eco­nomic health, the truth is sim­ply rel­a­tive: The US is not wan­ing; oth­ers are wax­ing.

"The prob­lem of Amer­i­can power in the 21st cen­tury, then, is not one of de­cline but what to do in light of the re­al­iza­tion that even the largest coun­try can­not achieve the out­comes it wants with­out the help of oth­ers," Har­vard Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor Joseph S. Nye wrote in the Novem­ber/De­cem­ber is­sue of the jour­nal For­eign Af­fairs.

This di­ag­no­sis cuts to the heart of the mat­ter, as the over­whelm­ing mo­men­tum of glob­al­iza­tion has changed the world stage into a multi-tiered and multi-di­men­sional com­mu­nity of com­mon in­ter­ests, where al­most ev­ery nation is a stake­holder. Tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions and new ide­olo­gies have only deep­ened the in­ter­de­pen­dence of its mem­bers.

Hege­mony is no longer om­nipo­tent, and uni­lat­er­al­ism is des­tined for the ash heap of his­tory. Mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism will steer the world into a more eq­ui­table and demo­cratic fu­ture. The in­ter­wo­ven net­work of na­tional in­ter­ests has emerged clearly in the wake of the world­wide fi­nan­cial tur­bu­lence that erupted in 2008, evok­ing mem­o­ries of the Great De­pres­sion.

A more fun­da­men­tal les­son from the past 10 years is that the dif­fer­ent na­tions shar­ing the same world are able to en­joy peace­ful co­ex­is­tence and com­mon de­vel- op­ment. Through friendly ex­changes dif­fer­ent par­ties will bet­ter un­der­stand how the "flat world" works, and will ac­cord­ingly mod­ify their own devel­op­ment ap­proaches on the ba­sis of their re­al­i­ties to fit the global grid.

The devel­op­ment modes of China, Brazil and Rus­sia all bear a non-Western stamp. Rather than re­sist­ing or sub­vert­ing the in­ter­na­tional norms, the emerg­ing economies are dove­tail­ing with, and mak­ing amend­ments, to them. They cham­pion mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism in­stead of uni­lat­er­al­ism, plu­ral­ism in­stead of mon­ism, tol­er­a­tion in­stead of con­fronta­tion and co­op­er­a­tion in­stead of con­tention. Their devel­op­ment not only re­lies on, but also con­trib­utes, to world peace. Take China, for ex­am­ple, and its con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to world­wide peace­ful devel­op­ment and win­win co­op­er­a­tion.

What is wor­ry­ing is that cer­tain coun­tries re­main stuck in hege­monic think­ing, cling to a Cold War men­tal­ity, or re­treat time and again into iso­la­tion­ist and pro­tec­tion­ist shells for their own short-term in­ter­ests.

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