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China Daily Global / 2020-05 / 22 / Page013

Regions to play bigger role

By Qian Chengdan | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-05-22 00:00

Pandemic is accelerating the trend of regionalization that will lead future global changes

The novel coronavirus outbreak is both a black swan event and a gray rhino event for it has caught countries around the world off guard and accelerated the pace of changes which were expected in five or 10 years. No matter what the world will be like after the pandemic, it will definitely be different from the one before.

The major reason is that the anti-globalization trend has emerged in recent years. Although globalization started from the epoch of maritime navigation, it did not take shape until the fall of colonial empires and the end of Cold War.

However, the modern day trend of globalization was dominated by the United States, which as the world's sole superpower was able to extend its neocolonialism far beyond the reach of the old colonial empires. Exploiting its superior soft and hard power, the US has been able to turn globalization into Americanization and so seize the lion's share of the benefits. It enjoys 70 percent of the pie, the other developed countries take 20 percent and the remaining 10 percent is shared among about 200 developing countries. The US-dominated globalization has widened the gap between the North and South.

During the process, some less developed countries have taken advantage of their rich labor resources to rise as emerging economies, China among them. Developed countries, especially the US have been startled by this and feel they are suffering a loss. The US therefore intends to reverse the global order that it built and even destroy it if necessary to maintain its preeminence.

The anti-globalization trend emerged a decade or two ago in developing countries as some found fault with globalization because of the wealth gap between countries. In recent years, however, the trend has been led by the China hawks in the US. The global landscape has thus become turbulent as if a giant vessel has steamed into peaceful waters overturning other boats. The anti-globalization of the developed countries is completely different from that of the developing ones and could be extremely destructive. The pandemic has fueled the populism and racism that was already on the rise in developed countries and aggravated the anti-globalization trend that had emerged.

What will happen after the pandemic and can globalization resume? The best scenario is that all countries understand their interdependence and restore a benefit-all globalization. However, the outlook is not encouraging given the current situation.

Globalization without the US is also unlikely. For one thing, it is unrealistic to not have the US in the loop, and the US has no intention of realizing complete isolationism. In addition, no other countries can play a leading role in a globalization if the US withdraws at present.

Another assumption is that the world will be divided into two camps of confrontation again. However, what the division would be remains unclear. Would it be between the East and the West, the South and the North, or developed and undeveloped countries? None of them is certain.

The world today is not simply divided into two halves, instead it sees the coexistence of different powers. The efforts of the US to strengthen its unilateral hegemony have failed, while developing countries are vying to register further development. The trend will be intensified by the pandemic and a new landscape of regionalization will evolve.

The regionalization seen over the past decades in Europe, South America and Southeast Asia, could lead future global changes.

The role of regions will be strengthened in the context of the emerging anti-globalization and the irreversible trend of globalization. In this process, the US will slowly lose its global dominance and become equivalent to other regions.

The new round of globalization that will take shape in the interaction between regions will identify itself by the spirit of equal negotiations and mutual benefits. Countries in the same region usually maintain close connections including in politics, economics and culture, which could promote interregional communication and on top of that forge a new global landscape. Transnational contradictions will be addressed within a region and regional dialogues will focus on maximizing the common interests in business, culture and politics.

This scenario is what we envision going forward, but risks and uncertainties will be seen when the old system dies out and new system emerges. Since China is at the center of the global turbulences, it needs to remain vigilant and be fully prepared to cope with the various changes and uncertainties.





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