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China is trying hard to put its brand name on the world’s economy. As much of the world is struggling with a very slow economic cycle or, as in the case of Europe, with a raging fnancial storm that threatens to destroy what was once a thriving continent, Asia is developing fast, with China opening the way to all other economies in the South East of the continent and South America trailing close.
The last blow to the West old leadership has come from Dalian, industrial area in China, where political and business leaders met for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2011. In a panel discussion on Governing Global Growth: The New Context, participants launched a call for a globally coordinated action, needed to counter the ongoing economic crisis facing Europe and the United States and put the world’s economy back on a sustainable development path. And that, of course, should take place with China’s brand name well engraved on it.
As it usually happens, in the front line for the call were political and economical leaders from the area suffering the most for the economic and financial crisis consequences, and in the worst need for fresh money to tackle the moment.
Gordon Brown, Member of Parliament, and Prime Minister (2007-2010) of the United Kingdom, urged European and US leaders to follow up on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s offer for China to do what it can to contribute to restoring global economic stability. Making a renewed call for a “global pact on growth” for a world economy that has become interdependent between the West and the rest, Brown said, “America and Europe have to reform and invest in infrastructure” while “India must open up markets more and China should consume more.”
Speaking for businesses and investors, Tidjane Thiam, Group Chief Executive, Prudential, United Kingdom, criticized political leaders for failing to present a credible plan of action to tackle Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. “Politicians are still operating in a world of hypocrisy and half-truths,” he said. “They’ve been punished many times by market reaction.” Yet he was optimistic about finding a way out, because politicians have at last begun to realize how serious the problem is and begun to make the right diagnosis.
George Yeo Yong-Boon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore (2004-2011), agreed but stressed that each country must restructure their own economies before seeking an international solution. “Transferring the pain of adjustment to the global system or to someone else is a disincentive to deep internal transformation that is needed in each country,” he said. It is also unrealistic to expect nations to pursue anything other than their own enlightened self-interest, he added. China will cooperate up to a point, but it will not consume more just to save other countries. And whatever happens to the global system, China and India will keep growing with hundreds of millions of their people joining the global middle class.
All three panellists noted that putting the global economy back on a sustainable growth path will take time but can be done. The shifting global power structure means only global thinking can dig the world economy out of the current mess. The alternative is stagnation, unemployment and protectionism for years to come.