In the New Year Special of The Economist, an article named “The West’s turn” said that in 2014, the overall contribution of the US, Japan, Britain and Germany to world economic growth will exceed that the four BRICS countries of China, India, Russia and Brazil. In other words, it’s the West’s turn to be the main engine of world economic growth.
In 2013, the West rebuilt part of its confidence through the fragility of the economies of the emerging nations. But it is short-sighted to believe that the shift of power will stop here. After all, it is only in recent years that the BRICS countries have made a greater contribution to world economic growth than the developed countries.
Over the past few years, the global power shift has become more complicated: it no longer passes from one major power to another in a straightforward process. Generally speaking, power is “flowing” from the West to the East. Alongside those great powers of the West that have always stood in the center of the world stage, emerging nations like China have become more and more active.
Some years ago the Singaporean scholar Kishore Mahbubani predicted two major changes in the global power shift: Firstly, “We have reached the end of the West’s dominance of world history (But this is not the end of the West - only that the West’s position as the only great power cannot last more than a few decades)”; and secondly, “We will see the rejuvenation of a great Asian country.”
Those optimistic predictions derived principally from the West’s recession after the 2008 global financial crisis, while in 2013 the emerging economies encountered slowdowns in exports and difficulties in economic restructuring, which clearly showed us that rejuvenation has another side - a need for hard and painful reform.
Furthermore, Western civilization has had a profound influence on the global development view. Consciously or unconsciously, many emerging nations are still following the Western example in pursuing their development path, and have suffered from mechanically applying the experiences of the West.
From the viewpoint of economic reform, 2014 is doomed to be a tough year. The year-end editorial of Financial Times for 2013 was titled “A tougher year for emerging markets”. The article said that “the outlook for the developing world largely hinges on what happens in China”, reflecting that the international community is greatly concerned about China’s reform.
Reform of political and economic governance is the key to the future competition for national power, and one of the decisive factors in the reconstitution of global power. Economic transition presents both challenges and opportunities, and the opportunities it presents will be created by a more active reform. When scholars observe the global power shift from the height of evolving civilization, they can see that China’s current reform has the mission of promoting the development of human society.