Carl Michael checks the facilitating role of Belt and Road Initiative on globalization in his eighth blog post for our Emerging Fellows program. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.
The theme of this scenario is: ‘The BRI Facilitates Globalisation – A Converging World Order’. The key drivers are increasing support for globalisation, coupled with the BRI working to support the evolving new global order in a manner which is perceived as positive and useful. This is a scenario where the dominant themes are convergence, multilateralism and transformation, and where the universal aspect of specific political or civilisational doctrines becomes weakened.
In this scenario, states retain their independent perspectives and at the same time, cooperate in order to address global issues. The US and China have escaped the Thucydides trap. Clarification of interests and sustained growth provides no incentive to allow conflict to disturb the status quo. When conflict does occur, it does so at a regional level and even then the international treaty system adapts to ensure an ongoing balance of power and provision of a quick resolution of grievances and mitigation of root causes.
By 2050 the Chinese economy is considerably larger than that of the US. Economic growth is maximised through globalisation, considered cooperation, free-markets, prudent regulations and relatively stable financial markets. The economies of Africa, ASEAN, India and China continue to grow but with an internal prosperity divide. This divide is not only economic, but also urban/rural and digital/manual and is the cause for potential unrest.
From a social perspective, citizens in most advanced regions are politically and socially empowered and regulated migration to these regions is normalised, though illegal migration remains a challenge, being driven by inequality and environmental stress. There are tensions between ethnic and national identities. Values, beliefs and lifestyles remain stable in some areas and change rapidly in others leading to a degree of turmoil in states which are less ‘disciplined’ than others. Developed countries experience a collective decline in population and corruption increases in many countries where centralised control is too strong or too weak.
Technology is a key driver of economic growth, and digital technologies are at the heart of the innovation which drives growth. Most people have access to the information they need. The information environment is fairly well-regulated, but the rate of change makes this hard to control. At the same time technological changes make the many national government systems redundant.
Governance is characterised by the increase of enhanced global initiatives to address global structural and environmental challenges as well as international disputes. Multilateral treaties are positioned within strong institutions that have the capability to address any of a spectrum of challenges, including the transformation to a digital economy and dealing with international crime.
In the larger context of protecting and managing natural environments with long-term sustainability in mind, there are broad collaborative international initiatives to provide mitigation for environmental stress due to the changing climate and to increase social resilience. Access to water, energy, mineral and food resources is regulated in order to manage both short-term shocks as well as long-term good.
In this scenario, in 2050, the BRI has helped to cement the smooth transition to a converging world order in areas such as trade, finance, industry, resource-management, infrastructure, cultural interchange, and environment management. The BRI has addressed inequality by helping to raise living standards, and productivity outside of China, which has helped to address the impact of declining Chinese demographics. Since the BRI is multilateral and geo-economic by its very nature, though a China led initiative, it has provided most of the benefits and little of the geopolitical hegemonistic challenges feared by other nations. China’s soft power has increased through interaction and culturalization along the sections of the BRI and the logic of Eurasian integration has been made manifest.