China is also sitting on a huge debt pile.
The collapse this year of Baoshang bank — the first in the sector for 20 years — suggests that the Chinese economy may have deeper-seated problems than the headline growth figure of 6. Then there is Hong Kong. The former British colony is witnessing the biggest political crisis since the handover to Beijing 22 years ago and economists are predicting that its economy will fall into recession this year. A free-trade agreement with the European Union would open up a market of half a billion people. Although she sees any significant China downturn as a prospect for the longer term, Creagh said policymakers and investors in Australia should have the possibility of a hard landing on their radar.
Make Your Own List. Intensive growth of the modern type was first recorded in Song dynasty China.
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My research interest is in comparative economic growth and development over the long term, from Christ to the present time. There have been two big puzzles in the research field that I have been involved in. The second puzzle is related to Premodern China, a country which used to lead the world in so many areas — science, technology, output levels, living standards and governance, to name but a few.
It never became industrialised until very recently. My five books tackle these two puzzles from different angles. Also, they are easy to read without off-putting quantitative contents that are associated with economics. Professor Eric L Jones is one of the leading scholars to tackle the aforementioned twin puzzles simultaneously. This book, first published in , was a follow-up of his earlier book, The European Miracle.
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In this one, Professor Jones established two parallel worlds, one of Europe and the other of Asia. He argued that intensive growth of the modern type, i. The first recorded such growth was China under the Sung Song Period of the 10th to 13th centuries. Then there was a similar growth in Tokugawa Japan of the 17th to 19th centuries. These were the forerunners of the British Industrial Revolution. This work was revolutionary in providing a powerful antithesis to the normative stereotype of European exceptionalism in growth and development.
The conclusion was that there is no ground for Eurocentricism in explaining the world history of economic growth prior to the 19th century. It is a simple and elegant concept, easy to apply and measure. It is close to our common sense. One does not need any training in economics to understand it. The difference between Jones and Wong is that the former gave both China and Europe an equal emphasis while the latter leans heavily towards China.
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According to Professor Wong, Qing China perfected all the key sectors in the economy, including flexible and efficient administration, effective proto-social welfare, high-yield agriculture, visible market freedom and so forth. He argued that the Qing system could have continued had revolution not been introduced from outside.
This presented a direct challenge to the old view of John Fairbank that China was on its way to decline from the Ming Dynasty onwards and that change was inevitable. Wong indicated the opposite. He has an interestingly China-centred assessment of Europe. It provides us with a new dimension to see our world very differently.
Those who know China will appreciate it more. It may well be better that those who have grown fond of globalization get over it, accept its passing, and begin to adjust to a new reality. I disagree.
Globalization, at least in the form that people have come to enjoy it, is defunct. From here, the passage away from globalization can take two new forms. One dangerous scenario is that we witness the outright end of globalization in much the same manner as the first period of globalization collapsed in This scenario is a favorite of commentators because it allows them to write about bloody end-of-the-world calamities.
This is, thankfully, a low-probability outcome, and with apologies to the many armchair admirals in the commentariat who, for instance, talk willfully of a conflict in the South China Sea, I suggest that a full-scale sea battle between China and the United States is unlikely. Instead, the evolution of a new world order—a fully multipolar world composed of three perhaps four, depending on how India develops large regions that are distinct in the workings of their economies, laws, cultures, and security networks—is manifestly underway.
My sense is that until , multipolarity was a more theoretical concept—more something to write about than to witness. This is changing quickly: trade tensions, advances in technologies such as quantum computing , and the regulation of technology are just some of the fissures around which the world is splitting into distinct regions.
Multipolarity is gaining traction and will have two broad axes. First, the poles in the multipolar world have to be large in terms of economic, financial, and geopolitical power. Second, the essence of multipolarity is not simply that the poles are large and powerful but also that they develop distinct, culturally consistent ways of doing things. Multipolarity, where regions do things distinctly and differently, is also very different from multilateralism, where they do them together.
China, in particular, is interesting in the context of the switch from globalization to multipolarity, not least because at the World Economic Forum the Chinese president claimed the mantle of globalization for China. China benefited greatly from globalization and its accoutrements e. However, trade flows into China increasingly betray a move away from a globalized world and toward a more regionally focused one.
These countries, together with Bangladesh and Pakistan, have allowed themselves to be enticed by trade- and investment-based relationships with China and are now in its orbit. However, China is itself not globalized: it is increasingly hard for Western companies to do business there on equal terms with Chinese companies, and the flow of both money and ideas—out of and into China, respectively—is heavily curtailed. Flow of people is another indicator. Flows within China are dynamic and are perhaps more managed than before, but flows of foreigners into China are miniscule by comparison to other countries, and China has only recently established an agency the State Immigration Administration created at the Party Congress to cultivate inward flows.
So as China has become a major pole, it has become less globalized and arguably is contributing to the trend toward deglobalization. On a broader scale, without picking on individual countries, we can measure the extent to which the world is becoming multipolar by examining aggregate trends in trade, GDP, foreign direct investment, government budget size, and population.
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All of these are much less concentrated, or more dispersed, than they used to be, and increasingly they are collecting around several poles. For example, in the five years from to , total foreign direct investment into Australia from China increased at a rate of 21 percent per annum, compared to 6 percent from the United States to Australia, suggesting that Asian investment in Australia is picking up. Even if multipolarity is based on the growing dispersion and regionalization of economic power, it is also expressed in other ways, notably military power, political and cyberfreedoms, technological sophistication, financial sector growth, and a greater sense of cultural prerogative and confidence.
These are not as easily measured as economic multipolarity, but some clear strands are emerging.
Under this schema the European Union, the United States, China, and potentially India are poles, but Japan and Russia would not qualify as distinct poles. Russia, for instance, scores well on certain aspects of multipolarity e. The path toward multipolarity will not be smooth. One tension is that since the Industrial Revolution the world has had an anchor point in terms of the locus and spread of globalization Britain in the nineteenth century and the United States in the twentieth century.
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The fact that there are now at least three points of reference introduces a new and possibly uncertain dynamic to world affairs. The potential is high for friction, misunderstanding, and conflict among the increasingly different ways of doing things across the major poles. Essentially, multipolarity means that instead of speaking a common language, the major poles speak different policy languages. Trade-based tension is an obvious possibility here.
Another form of tension is the crisis of identity created for countries that are not wholly within one of the poles—again, Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom are the prime examples—and the crisis of ambition for countries, such as Russia, that want to be poles but lack the wherewithal to do so convincingly.
At a more grassroots level, the implications of the end of globalization as we know it and the path to multipolarity will become a greater part of the political debate. At the margin, the flow of people, ideas, and capital may be less global and more regional and in time could be reinforced by a growing sense of regionalization across the main poles.