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Unformatted text preview: wor ld?: Wr estling for influence | The Economist part of governm ents , ric h and poor, that the bigges t c hallenges s haping their future—c lim ate
c hange, the flaws and the forc es of globalis ation, the s c ram ble for res ourc es , s tate failure,
m as s terroris m , the s pread of weapons of m as s des truc tion—often need global, not jus t
national or regional, s olutions . The s hift in 21s t-c entury ec onom ic power alone is jus tific ation
for rebalanc ing influenc e in the top c lubs . Muc h harder to figure out is whic h bits of the global
arc hitec ture need m ere tweaking, whic h need retooling or replac ing—and who s hould have
the right to dec ide.
After dec ades of dividing the world into the ric h and powerful W es t and the developing (or
em erging) “res t”, China's rapid growth and the ec onom ic dynam is m of Eas t As ia had led to
talk of a new “Pac ific ” c entury well before the old “Atlantic ” one had ended. On pres ent
trends , s om ewhere between 2025 and 2030 three of the world's four larges t ec onom ies will
be from As ia. China will jus t pip Am eric a to top the global league, with India and Japan, both
determ ined but s o far uns uc c es s ful c am paigners for perm anent s eats on the UN Sec urity
Counc il, following on (though Chines e and Indians will s till be, on average, m uc h poorer than
Am eric ans or Japanes e). No t u n ip o lar b u t wh at? Yet talk of an As ian c entury s ounds quaint. Des pite Am eric a's brief “unipolar m om ent” as its
rival pole, the Soviet Union, c ollaps ed, Rus s ia has rec overed to join a ris ing China, Am eric a,
Europe and Japan in a new c ons tellation of big powers that is bas ed on far m ore than the
old boot-and-roc ket c ounts of the c old war. Bring India into the s naps hot, and you c apture
54% of the world's population and 70% of GDP. W hether the leaders of this m ultipolar world
will rub along or bas h elbows rem ains to be s een.
Globalis ation's inc reas ingly unfettered flow of inform ation, tec hnology, c apital, goods ,
s ervic es and people has helped s pread opportunity and influenc e far and wide. To reem ergent China and R...
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- Summer '08