The worldwide debate about globalization has been upended by “the Trump phenomenon,” which has spread like wildfire across Europe and elsewhere. The two separate camps of “deglobalization” versus “reglobalization” are pitted against each other in a tug of war with no clear winner.
From a historical perspective, globalization has not been linear in its progress. There have been ups and downs and twists and turns. With several decades of fast growth of globalization, the world has reaped unprecedented benefits, but we have also seen a widening gap between the rich and the poor and a deeper division between capital and labor, as predicted by Karl Marx.
Globalization will continue but with a different paradigm or narrative, ushering in a new era of “reglobalization,” wherein China is called upon to play a key role of leadership. China’s President Xi Jinping is going to the Davos World Economic Forum this January, which again indicates that China attaches great importance to making globalization and global governance work again, even though now globalization is somewhat in shatters and in urgent need of change.
Although what anti-globalization measures President-elect Trump will take and what will happen in European politics in the next few years are mostly in the domain of unknowns, there are a few trends that will no doubt continue. One trend is that after the 2008 financial crisis, neo-liberalism has been retreating or receding at a rapid pace globally. Another trend is that despite global economic slowdown, China’s economic growth path and political system have been resilient.
The contrast between a collapsing neo-liberalism of the West and the much-welcomed new development model espoused and practiced by China is not to be missed. I am certain that it will be featured prominently at the upcoming annual Davos gathering too. In the last decade or so, China has taken a proactive approach to the provision of global commons ranging from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to the “One Belt & One Road” initiative.
Amid growing uncertainty caused by political and economic shifts in advanced nations like the U.S., U.K., Italy and France, China stands out as an anchor of stability and continuity in global governance and international efforts to tackle global challenges such as climate change. Of course, it is not just about China, the U.S. and Europe. It is about the changing political and economic landscape of the world we live in and about the “rebalance” or “convergence” between developed and developing nations on a scale that has not been seen since the industrial revolution a few hundred years ago. Global governance is undergoing a historical shift from Western governance to co-governance by the East and West. Will we succeed in shaping the emerging new world order to be more fair and just?
Reglobalization does not mean throwing away the current global governance system. China has repeatedly expressed its firm position that it wants to safeguard, reinforce and reform the existing governance system.
Rising populism in the U.S. and Europe is a result of the widening income and wealth gap. That root cause that keeps feeding the populist anger against the elites in the West is now crystal clear. If that angst cannot be diffused, any talk of a new world order would be futile. China’s success in continuous growth and reduction of poverty should be a model for other nations.
This piece was originally published at ChinaUSFocus.com.