China’s Puzzle

I found this reflection about the “collision” among the interests of people in three different parts of the world by Samir Saran at World Economic Forum very interesting. Here’s a snippet:

For the past seven decades, the world has been moulded by a strong, transatlantic relationship with the US and EU underwriting the terms of peace, stability and economic prosperity.

The success of this order has created its own existential challenge. Its rising beneficiaries in Asia and elsewhere increasingly challenge the validity of these arrangements and the efficacy of rules that have managed global affairs. While the historian John Ikenberry described the liberal world order as a “hub and spoke” model of governance, with the West at its centre, it is now clear that the peripheries of the system are developing wheels and engines of their own.

Indeed, the rise of Asia as a whole is recasting the physical and mental map of the world. Proliferating transnational relationships and new flows of finance, trade, technology, information, energy and labour have created three new strategic geographies which are already escaping the shadow of transatlantic arrangements. They essentially represent the collision of erstwhile political constructs – and their management requires new ideas, nimble institutions and fluid partnerships.

Frankly, I think he’s underestimating the importance that sub-Saharan African countries will have during the coming century pretty drastically. But the article did cause me to think about the role of geography in the unfolding developments in the world.

I’ll leave you with one thought. IMO China’s situation is very precarious. On the one hand its present position in the world depends on a relationship with the U. S. that is at the very least not hostile. By its geography and the network of relationships, built over a century, with European and Asian countries it has cultivated the U. S.’s vigilant and expensive oversight of global trade is completely understandable. Because of its own geography for China to maintain even its own foreign trade completely on its own would be, if not prohibitively expensive, an expense that China would prefer not to bear. Consequently, it must tread lightly or risk its own prosperity.

But treading lightly is increasingly unworkable with its zero sum view of international affairs.

It’s a puzzle.

2 comments… add one
  • CuriousOnlooker

    On the other hand; for the first time since the 50’s and never before that; the Chinese have friendly relations on their Northern border.

    I think we underestimate the extent that Chinese foreign policy is driven by domestic considerations of the men (or man) holding power at the top.

  • Bob Sykes

    If MacKinder is right, the Russo-Chinese alliance will dominate the 21st Century.

    As far as black Africa is concerned, their “contribution” will be to destroy European civilization and cement the Russo-Chinese victory.

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