Reference News Network reported on November 26 (By Martin Jacques) 2020 is the most unusual year since 1945. The coronavirus pandemic has challenged the limits of almost all governments around the world in an unprecedented way. Of course, all this also happened against the background of the widening Sino-US differences.
The 2008 Western financial crisis was the biggest crisis since 1931. Over time, it is bound to have far-reaching effects, and it is true. It broke the political constraints of the angry working class of the United States, which had suffered from stagnation in income growth for a long time, and voted to promote fundamental changes in American politics: Trump’s entry to the White House, opposition to globalization, support for nationalism and a major turning point in Sino-US relations. The 2008 financial crisis is still releasing strength, as political changes in every European country and the United States are constantly confirming this.
At the same time, a larger event occurred: the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the world far exceeded that of the 2008 financial crisis. It has led to a sharper decline in global production and trade, and globalization has broken down and been divided far more than ever before 2016.
This epidemic may destroy what we know about the world order and make everything go away from the past: we can’t go back to the established national hierarchy led by the United States, the era of globalization from 1980 to 2016, to liberal democracy since 1945, and to the Western countries formed after 1945. International order.
In 2020, the size of the Western economy will shrink significantly, and then there may be a double-dip recession or even a depression. This will be in sharp contrast to the situation in East Asia. All East Asian countries, especially China, are well aware of the need to eliminate the virus and have achieved overwhelming success.
As a result, the economies of these countries are recovering rapidly. China is the only major country in the world that expects to achieve growth this year. East Asia, especially China, has proved that its governance system and Confucian cultural values are correct. In the long run, the focus of global power will eventually shift from the United States to China.
Whether Trump won the presidential election or not, nothing will go back to before 2016. The United States will continue to regard China as a strategic opponent. The fierce competition and confrontation between the United States and China will continue. A large part of the world – East Asia (including Southeast Asia), Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, will increasingly lean towards China.
The distance between Europe and the United States continues to widen, and some European countries are also looking more on China. As China becomes the world’s largest economy and its domestic market is the world’s largest market, China will become increasingly attractive, and its vigorous technological power will significantly enhance this attraction.
Against this background, the two most important factors are: China’s economic growth relative to the United States and the relative speed of China’s technological innovation.
Under the impact of the coronavirus epidemic, we must consider two new factors. First of all, it has proved that China’s governance system is far superior to that of the West in dealing with the epidemic and subsequent economic challenges. Secondly, compared with the United States and other Western societies, Chinese culture has shown great resilience, cohesion and solidarity in the face of the epidemic.
In other words, countries faced economic challenges to a large extent in 2008. Today, unlike in the past, China’s ability to cope with the epidemic is better in political, economic, cultural, social and of course public health.
The background of the above-mentioned power and ideological change is most likely to be great turmoil, instability, tension and conflict. For mankind, the next few years may be a very difficult journey, especially for the West. We are indeed experiencing a great change, which will dominate the development process in the next decade or even decades. Successfully meeting these challenges will be a great test of governance and requires China and other countries to cooperate together.
( The author is a visiting professor at Tsinghua University and a former senior researcher in the Department of Political and International Studies of Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. This article is an excerpt from the author’s speech at the 2020 International Conference on Understanding China)