New Rules of Globalization: China Is Changing Hierarchy of the Global Order

Globalization as we knew it in the post-Cold War years has not ended, but a process of changing hierarchy within the global order is underway, believes Tony van der Togt, senior research fellow at the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

“Globalization as such did not stop,” van der Togt told on the sidelines of an expert discussion on Eurasianism in Moscow last week. “But it had some kind of internal tensions, because not every country and not the whole population of every country profits in the same way from globalization.”

A backlash against globalization is evident throughout the western world, the expert said. The rise of populist parties in Europe and support for Donald Trump and his views on the global economy at last year’s US presidential elections show that there is a group of the population not profiting from the global expansion of economic relations.

“Some people lose out,” he said “They may lose their jobs and they start blaming that on – not only on globalization – but blaming on immigrants coming to the countries and, as they see it, taking their jobs, which may not be the case, but that's how they see it. And that has political effects.”

According to the Dutch scholar, migration is an effect of globalization. “People are going to other countries because it promises them a better future,” he said. “Like we now in the European Union are facing this migrant crisis: not only political refugees, but also migrants coming from Africa thinking that life is better in Europe somehow.”

“There is a big discussion about whether Trump is aberration in American politics and whether during the next election politics will get back, to a more ‘normal’ president, more ‘normal’ administration,” van der Togt said. “But I think the long-term effects are that the world is in a way becoming sometimes more narrow, more protectionist in trade and economic terms.”

As the west seems to be increasingly disappointed with the old model of globalization, non-western actors begin to champion free trade across the world. “During the meeting in Davos early this year, European leaders and businesses looked not as much the one to support that order,” van der Togt said. “They did not look anymore at the United States, they were somehow trying to find the answer themselves. At that time Germany and France were still facing elections – now we know the result – but as they were looking for someone to uphold this global order, they were looking at China.”

As he was speaking at Davos, Xi Jinping seemed to be the new guardian of this global economic order, decrying protectionism in trade, van der Togt said. “Now we are looking at China for some form of leadership. We never expected that to happen before,” he stressed.

Importantly, China does not want to destroy this order, but wants, alongside with other emerging powers, to change its position therein. So this is more about changing hierarchy within the order, the expert said. This is logical because over the past years these countries have become more important in trade and economic terms, which should be also reflected in a reform of the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank and acknowledging the importance of G-20, he concluded.

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