Valdai: New Era of De-Westernization Has Begun
The political equivalence structure between the West and the non-West is increasingly strengthened and is becoming an important feature of world politics in the third decade of the 21st century. Of course, the world in 2023 will not be mellow, but in any case, amid the “de-Westernisation”, major changes unseen in a century will continue to evolve in an irreversible way, writes Valdai Club expert Wang Wen.
The global significance of 2022 has been grossly underestimated. The importance of this year to world history far exceeds that of 2001, when the 9/11 attacks occurred, or 2008, when the international financial crisis broke out. It may be comparable to 1991, when the Cold War ended. If there’s a keyword, it’s “de-Westernization”.
The “de-Westernization” in 2022 is not limited to Russia’s use of radical military methods to try to break the international order dominated by US hegemony – in fact, after withstanding tens of thousands of Western sanctions, Russia is accelerating its eastward policy and the integration of the Eurasian Economic Union – non-Western countries are showing unprecedented independence as well as shared momentum.
In China, after the successful convening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, this rising power is trying every means to overcome the effects of Covid-19 and its economic downturn, and continuing to move steadily towards the goal of being a modern socialist power in 2050.
However, China is not alone in pursuing an independent path to promoting its own ascent strategy; it is joined by most non-Western countries.
In Latin America, the left-wing leader Lula won the Brazilian presidential election again after more than a decade. Given that left-wing governments in Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Honduras, Colombia and other countries have come to power, it can be said that countries that account for more than 80% of the population of Latin America have “turned left” in recent years. They advocate both keeping their distance from the US and promoting the process of Latin American independence and integration.
In Southeast Asia, ASEAN countries successfully hosted the ASEAN Summit, the G20 Summit, and the APEC Meeting in late 2022, keeping the same distance from China and the US, and through regional solidarity and economic vitality have constantly strengthened a long-sought “centrality”.
In Central Asia, in 2022, the five countries continued to strengthen the heads of state consultation mechanism, and signed a series of important documents such as the “21st Century Central Asia Development, Friendship, Good-Neighbourliness and Cooperation Treaty”, keeping equidistant from Russia, the US, Europe and other powerful countries, taking the Central Asian regional integration to a new stage.
In the Middle East, 22 countries of the Arab world, after experiencing Washington’s so-called “War on Terror” and the “Arab Spring” in the first two decades of the 21st century, began to focus on the strategic transformation of independence and “single-minded development”. For example, countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have “Vision 2030,” while Iraq’s “Plan 2035”, Kuwait’s “Vision 2035”, Oman’s “Vision 2040”, and the United Arab Emirates’ “Vision 2050” are all raising the development expectations of the Arab world. In late 2022, the World Cup in Qatar, the China-Arab States Summit, and the China-Gulf Arab States Cooperation Council Summit raised the global influence of the Arab world to unprecedented heights.
In Africa, 2022 marked the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the African Union, and the development strategy of “United Self-improvement, Independent Development” is more firm.
Many regional powers are also harbouring the dream of being a great power, and are keeping a necessary distance from the West. For example, Turkey took advantage of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to comprehensively enhance its global influence.
India is looking for a balance between the East and the West, and has withstood the pressure of the West to adopt its joint sanctions against Russia, maintained an independent foreign policy of relative cooperation with China and Russia, and continue to take over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council and the G20 at the end of 2022, facing a huge opportunity to enhance the influence of global powers.
The West has no way to stop this trend. In many of the major international crises that have occurred in the past century, the United States has been a world leader, until the third decade of the 21st century. In the Covid-19 crisis and the crisis in Ukraine, the leadership of the United States cannot convince the world. On the contrary, the US is facing unprecedented major challenges in its own fight against Covid-19, racial conflicts, pursuit of economic recovery, and maintenance of the political order.Europe’s share of the global economy has fallen to a low not seen since the 19th century. In 2022, India’s GDP will surpass that of the UK, and an ethnic Indian has become prime minister of the UK. Some people call it “the counterattack of the colonized land”, if it is not revenge.
In 2020, China ranked first in the world as a source of FDI, having already ranked first in industrial output value and total trade in goods. For the first time in history, the US and its Western peers could no longer claim to be the top sources of foreign investment.
In recent years, China has also frequently surpassed Western countries in attracting foreign capital, showing an unprecedented national advantage with the most attractive international funds. It can be seen that “capital” is not always locked in the West.
In 2022, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) entered into force. It reflects the loss of the West’s monopoly on international free trade.
The “independence” of political development and the “de-Westernisation” of regional economies are accompanied by the “de-dollarisation” of global trade and the “de-Americanisation” of technology.
In the second quarter of 2022, the US dollar’s share of international reserve assets accounted for 59.53%, far less than the 72.7% it accounted for in 2001; it has fallen to its lowest point since the end of World War II. In the fourth industrial revolution, the US and the European countries have also lost their absolute monopoly on smart technology, quantum computing, Big Data, 5G, etc.
The blossoming of non-Western countries does not necessarily respond to Western hegemony through confrontation, conflict, or checks and balances. Instead, they all focus on getting rid of Western control, taking their own national interests as the strategic centre, and relying on political awakening. International political democracy and mutual respect are the main demands of the non-Western countries.The political equivalence structure between the West and the non-West is increasingly strengthened and is becoming an important feature of world politics in the third decade of the 21st century. Of course, the world in 2023 will not be mellow, but in any case, amid the “de-Westernisation”, major changes unseen in a century will continue to evolve in an irreversible way.