(A short note written for and published by the Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA) dated 29 July, 2007)
Let me first stress to the distinguished ATCA members across 120 countries, that I do not represent or speak for China or the Chinese government. But I do see different shades of so-called, democracies' around the world. I also see that each country's development is different with its own geographical, demographic, environmental, historical, cultural, economic, political and other challenges. In an age of profound globalization and paradigm shift, may I respectfully suggest that for the purpose of our Socratic dialogue, our debate should perhaps also take account of the following angles, which I have recently shared with our distinguished ATCA contributor Professor Jean-Pierre Lehman for his Evian Group at IMD Lausanne, Switzerland:
(a) As the world has become so interconnected and interdependent - with value creation migrating across borders so readily - and as global economics have changed so dramatically, we need to re-think the global trading system in the highly integrated globalization of the 21st Century (highlighted, for example, by the Doha Round) and to address its 'Disconnects'. This would include the structure and functions of the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. (The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman, 2005; Making Globalization Work, Joseph Stiglitz,2006)
(b) We are also witnessing a global industrial revolution the likes of which the world has never seen. Almost all at once, over 40% of humankind in China, India, SE Asia, Central Asia, Latin America, Africa, Russia and Eastern Europe are industrializing and urbanizing to varying degrees. Concurrently the world is becoming much more populated. How best should the global competition for resources including energy, minerals and water be coordinated and managed, both between emerging and developed economies and between all countries individually?
(c) Likewise, as the threats of Climate Chaos have become markedly evident, how best should global resources be used in tune with Nature without sacrificing the aspirations of individual countries and peoples at varying stages of development and subject to different political, economic, social, geographical and geopolitical challenges? (The Revenge of Gaia, James Lovelock, 2006; The Weather Makers, Tim Flannery, 2005; Half Gone, Jeremy Leggett, 2005; When the Rivers Run Dry, Fred Pearce, 2006)
(d) Should world development be approached in diametric terms as between the so-called Washington Consensus and the Beijing Consensus, between Bipolarism and Multilateralism, between the End of History and the Clash of Civilizations? How best should the demons of history and prejudices be addressed to move from confrontation to cooperation, from discord to tolerance, from imposition to diversity, from empire to respect for individual sovereignty, and from instability to lasting peace? (The Beijing Consensus, Joshua Cooper Ramo, 2004; Colossus, Niall Ferguson, 2005; After the Neocons, Francis Fukuyama, 2006)
(e) How best should we promote much greater understanding and friendly interaction between religions, faiths, cultures, countries and regimes?
(f) How best should we enhance global cooperation in the development of institutions, policies, technologies, and businesses to address specific global threats including pandemics, climate chaos, and terrorism?
(g) Should we create a better global financial architecture to address increasing global financial imbalances and much more magnified credit risks in order to maintain long term financial stability?
(h) How best should we promote more corporate governance, social responsibility, ethics, compassion and charity in society and business across the globe?
(i) How best should countries be empowered to realize their individual and sustainable development goals?
(j) How should a better global geopolitical, economic, social, and cultural community be achieved?
To assist further with this ATCA Socratic dialogue in the China context, I can do no better than repeating the last two paragraphs of my preceding article 'Unilateralism does not work. Global interdependence supports multilateralism' (ATCA, 22 July, 2007):
'China, however, needs the West and the rest of the world perhaps even more than they need China. She is now the 4th largest economy in the world, but with a population of a fifth of humankind, she still ranks below 100th in terms of per capita GDP, amongst some of the poorest countries in Africa. Moreover she has only 7% of the world's arable land and only a third to a quarter of the world's per capita water resources, much of which have become polluted. She needs to produce 24 million jobs each year just to stay even. She has to maintain a relatively rapid growth rate, achieve higher value-added in her productivity, and develop a sound economic foundation before her aging population profile begins to bite in 30 to 40 years time. She has to grapple with rising inequality and corruption and build better governance and rule of law. She has to do all these, yet maintaining the sustainability of her environment as more and more of the West's energy-intensive manufacturing is being off-shored to China. That's why China does not want, and cannot afford to be aggressive. She needs peace and Harmony, both at home and internationally, to continue to build a better society for her people, and for the Party to stay in power. So China welcomes international help and cooperation, especially in technology, innovation, resources, and in clean and efficient energies. She is honing her skills in playing a better game in engaging the rest of the world, including the West, as a leading Responsible Stakeholder. In short, while nurturing better relations and cooperation across the globe, she shuns the old concept of 'blocs' and whole-heartedly embraces multilateralism.
Indeed, as Capitalism and Socialism are converging across the world, we need a paradigm shift in our thinking how to engage with other countries, and how to promote peace, stability and development in a world now virtually without borders.'
Andrew K P Leung, SBS, FRSA