Dr Kit Tsui’s Economic Interdependence
What marks the well-being of human beings?
Q: What decides the stability of a society?
Q: What constitutes the basis for our whole ‘world’?
Therefore, harmonious democratic society is the optimal development mode for the whole world.
Q: What pushes our history forward?
A: Economic activities.
Q: What is a must for international co-operation?
A: Value System.
Q: What is the trick for value-selling?
Therefore, an optimal way for the global co-operation of all countries is that of economic value integration.
Under the circumstances of various tempestuous transformations, the human race is witnessing an increasing number of common predicaments – such as energy security, climate change, financial crisis, nuclear proliferation, regional instability and natural disasters – in response to which an increasing number of common reforms and innovations are being introduced. The world today is much more integrated and interdependent, far beyond different regions and different ethnic peoples, and as a result, these predicaments might translate into conflicts wherever integration and interdependence are accompanied by economic imbalance. The bigger the gap, the more conspicuous the conflicts are likely to be. Indeed, the evolution of human societies is pushed along by this sort of tension: it is imbalances of economic development that has given rise to different value and cultural systems specific to different phases of development, not to mention different political doctrines.
Historically, an ‘efficient’ way to resolve conflicts has been by resort to arms. Yet with the advancement of human civilisation, our species is reforming itself with a new transcendentalism above notions of self and regionalism. More and more people disagree with conflict, think our environment should be protected and want to help those in need beyond their own borders. Nowadays, resorting to arms might only aggravate friction and deepen people’s resentments.
In 1973, an article authored by American scientist and Harvard professor Daniel Bell, entitled The Coming of Post-industrial Society, put forward theories of information society that ushered in our modern era of global citizenship and international community. And so today, while the world seems to be undergoing a fresh succession of crises in its course of development, international co-operative institutions such as BRIC, the G20 and G8 are proof that nations worldwide are combining their efforts in pursuit of global remedies.
The issue of international co-operation all comes down to the issue of value integration. As a matter of fact, it is the mutual distrust caused by value discrepancies that is the main deterrent to co-operation between countries and regions. In order for different countries, regions and ethnic groups to abandon grievances, end conflicts with each other and deepen co-operation, value integration must serve as the premise.
‘Values’ are the most fundamental normative beliefs of individuals, communities, ethnic groups and nations as a whole. They determine how people and groups interact with each other – at the international level and even in the context of war. Civilisations have for millennia been influenced by nature, conflict and natural disasters. Under the influence of politics and economics, particular value systems or orientations are shaped and reshaped.
The world in the past was one comprised of agricultural and later industrial, less open, societies – one of relatively discrete political, economic and value systems. Today, however, as a result of technological advancements and human progress, time and space across the globe has been effectively, and drastically, reduced. All countries and regions, including their social forms, political systems, economic development, military might and cultural fads, are subject to the impact and influences of the world. Another side to global value integration is the resistance and conflicts that it is producing; this worldwide ‘uniformising’ of paradigms is bringing about a quiet revolution of global political systems and economics and social forms.
Human civilisations have exerted mutual influences and experienced mutual infiltration throughout the course of their evolutions. However, ‘new world’ values are becoming more and more prevalent, in spite of the influence of civilisations both ancient and modern, be they Western, Chinese-Oriental, Indian, Egyptian or African. Thus frictions, and occasionally outright conflicts, between nations (due to their unique economic and political values) are inevitable.
In order to lessen the discrepancies in cultural values between different countries or ethnic peoples so that their cultural evolution and progress of civilisation are in good accord, we must tackle the issue of economic growth in all countries while alleviating the economic gaps between different nations. The key to this is to prevent one-sided economic growth. Unilateralism in the economic sphere will not only worsen the gaps between national economies, but reduce chances of the world economy growing steadily as a whole.
Human society thrives on a sound economy. Yet global economic imbalance is causing vast economic, civilisation and superiority-inferiority gaps. In the past, invasion or unjustified exploitation, as well as historical differences in development, have been responsible for creating these gaps; today, however, they are down to economic unilateralism, a mode of development that entails growing one’s own economy at the expense of other economies. Since unilateralism is practised more in developed countries, economic gaps are growing between them and undeveloped countries, deepening an imbalance that may cause an economic slowdown upon developed nations. Thus unilateral development and hegemony in competition seems to degrade human civilisation as a whole.
Getting rid of unfair cut-throat competition so that our world economy can attain a balance of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit is a top priority faced by all of us across the world. How then, can we lessen the rampage of economic unilateralism?
THE IMPERATIVE OF INTERDEPENDENCE
Just as a country’s economic imbalance might cause internal conflict, global economic imbalance might cause conflict between countries. There is, therefore, a once-and-for-all solution to most international conflicts: economic interdependence. Only when economic progress is more balanced can we expect global values to coalesce within a certain range and a common political doctrine can be formulated.
Economic Interdependence theory takes its cues from the great Oriental and Western civilisations, tapping into classical Eastern interdependence philosophy, modern Western game theory and modern fuzzy topology philosophy, consisting of interactive economy, resource fission and full-value operation. It seeks to bring about interaction, mutual independence and reciprocity between developed countries’ great financial resources and developing countries’ industrial resources. A world economic order of interdependence and common prosperity should follow.
The doctrine and practice of interdependence economics is the hard proof of a universal dualism: that twenty-first century developed and developing economies are significant players and developmental partners. But it falls short of enabling their financial and industrial resources to connect and interact with each other.
FROM SINO-AMERICAN TO GLOBAL INTERDEPENDENCE
The most striking cultural differences currently exist between East and West – indeed, as a potential cause of conflict they represent one of the latent crises facing our world. Arguably, these differences can be put down to economic imbalance. As we all know, China is an ancient civilisation that has borne great intellectual fruits for the human race. What epitomises traditional Chinese civilisation is mutual love among people and harmony with nature – ideals currently being manifested in Western civilisation. Ancient Chinese intellects like Confucius, Mencius, Lao-tzu and Zoranzi all gave great wisdom to human civilisation. ‘The word is with god, and word is god!’ is a sentence that deftly summarises the high integration of ancient Eastern and modern Western civilisation. Therefore, the differences between East and West are only short-term discrepancies existing temporarily in related historical and economic phases.
So in order to exterminate those cultural gaps, East and West should no longer treat each other as adversaries but rather cultivate a harmonious strategic partnership based on value integration, economic interdependence and common ends. Interdependence economics has made it very likely that the biggest developed country, the US, and the biggest developing country, China, will seek political identity integration in this particular economic phase of development. An age of Sino-American interdependence, characterised by inextricable economic integration, stand-together-through-thick-and-thin co-operation and orderly competition, might serve as a worthy paradigm for all countries across the world.
With the US as the biggest consumer market and China the biggest saver, the seamless integration of both countries’ finances make them one bloc of common interest. And this integration is an inevitable result of common cultural value integration necessitated by the particular historical periods of Western and Eastern civilisations in the course of their development.
This understanding is sound proof that interdependence economics, in the context of an ever more integrated and interdependent world, will enable productive exchanges between the two biggest economies despite their strikingly different cultural values. The hope is that this will create more mutual trust, integration and harmony. Therefore, the creation and practise of interdependence economics will contribute to world peace and harmony.
Mutual existence and harmony is the sound option for both the leaders and the peoples of today’s world. But how? Economic interdependence will give rise to common values, and common values will give rise to political harmony.
Economic progress is not about how much more one obtains than the other; value integration is not about who is more superior to others; politics is not about judging one another. To merely ask people to sympathise with and even embrace each other’s values and political doctrines alone would be unproductive. The first step is to promote interdependent economies, which will in turn promote world value integration, which will then solve once and for all, disagreements over political dogmas. It will grant us freedom from aggression and conflict, bestow endurable peace upon the human race, and usher in a consummate civilised and harmonious society.
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