Globalization in the 21st century



WHEN my graduating journalism and international relations students asked “is globalization good or bad for us and the Philippines?”, they were—without realizing or even thinking it— asking who will be the winner of the economic, military, ideological and technical dominance of the world in the next 100 years?

My reply was how the benefits of globalization on us Filipinos—and the Asean 10 for that matter—will outweigh the negative effects will depend largely on how best our government leaders can unite our people to safeguard our national interest, manage effectively our resources, deliver to our people the socio-economic boons, including health, education, peace and order, freedom and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution, insure our food and water security, manage our financial/fiscal stability so our marginalized poor are below five percent (at least), agro-fisheries industrialization, consistently enforce institutional reforms and greatly minimize corruption at all levels.

These are just some of the factors. There are more cultural factors on our side, including the lack of sense of time and urgency, the “bahala na” attitude, appreciation and acceptance of modern technologies for production, and the compadre system. All that will be generational concerns because cultural changes take time. The undesirable and abhorrent alternative is suppression of human freedoms and mind control, as happened in communist Russia and China immediately after their revolutions overthrew their monarchies in the 1900s and 1950-1960s, respectively, just like what North Korea is still doing.

This is the 21st century and the ways of globalization or interaction/interdependence among sovereign nations have greatly transformed, metamorphosed if you will, since the 15th century when Spain and Portugal under the Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world between them to colonize. Remember our history books full of accounts of the European explorations for spices and more land? The Muslims bringing trade to Europe via Northern Africa and colonizing Southern Spain for centuries? The Treaty of Westphalia recognized nations-states as further modernized “globalization,” with improvements in international trade and commerce. The two world wars in our history showed how technologies drove—and still drive—economic progress. And the last 70 years ushered in decolonization and fired the intensity of the ideological competition between the East and West, called the Cold War.

This is now the stage or age of information communication technologies (ICT) and artificial intelligence—also known in the industrialized countries as robotics.

In this century, the odds of a shooting nuclear war are less because of the awareness of the major competitors (based on the published and verified reports) that, should it be triggered by some military miscalculations or “madness” of the North Korean and American leaders, it will surely be the costliest in human life and property damage, with cities razed by nuclear weapons. The radiation alone will not allow any plant or animal life to thrive for decades. And the rehabilitation that must follow would be extremely expensive. These have been proven in the atomic test blast on Eniwetok Atoll and in the South Pacific (in the early 1940s), and Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan (which ended the war in the Pacific) in 1945.

The major globalization—or simply, competition for economic-geopolitical dominance or hegemony—players are: 1) the US and its allies, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in the Northeast Asia-Pacific region; the European Union countries and the United Kingdom in the European arena; the major oil producers-exporters, Egypt and Israel in the Middle East; India and Pakistan in South Asia; and most of the Latin American states; and Canada in North America; and 2) China, Russia, North Korea and the former Soviet client states in Central Asia.

Two weeks ago, the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress and the incorporation of President Xi Jinping’s “Thoughts” into China’s Constitution and the election of the new ruling Central Committee’s six members to work with Xi as its head has been officially explained as China’s direction towards a two-stage socialist-communist philosophy of governance for the benefit of its people first, and for world economic cooperation, second. In the process, China will adopt the capitalist principles governing global trade and will compete openly with the rest of the world. But it will also offer financial and technical assistance to less developed countries, particularly to the 10 resource-rich member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). China is not adopting any ideology but will have its own Chinese brand of governance.

China is now in an innovation mode. It will improve on anything, but lace it with Chinese culture and philosophy before applying it on its people.

The congress has solidly installed Xi as the strong leader they will follow now (as they did Chairman Mao Zedong and President Deng Xiaopeng from 1949 through the 1980s) as president of China, chairman of the party central committee and head of the of the People’s Liberation Army

That appears to be a legitimate aspiration and statement of any sovereign state, particularly coming from China now. But for the sake of our own national interest, every Asean country must scrutinize these very closely and be wary of geopolitical strings attached to it. The Asean members have different colonial backgrounds. Their contagions from their European, American and Japanese colonizers have been imbedded in their cultures and different religions. This is the reason the region has not been fully integrated economically yet even the organization is now 50 years old. In at least Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines, agricultural development has been in the tail-end of their national development.

In the final analysis, the question must be asked: China is now second only to the US as an economic power and has openly shown it will compete with whatever it takes to dislodge the Americans from that perch because their collective leadership says “this is the Chinese Century as Pax-America is on its way out.”

Asean has been predicted by authoritative financial institutions worldwide to be the fastest growing economic group in the next two decades, as Chinese growth is expected to slow down even in the face of its financial and technological assistance offers to the 10 Asean members. China can take that as a chance to regard Asean as a group to be its chief competitor for the world market. In the name of national interest, we must be critical in scrutinizing the overtures and aid offers from all—particularly China, the US, Europe and Russia.

I suggest we develop and improve on the economic and political researches, especially of the different markets as their cultures and economic developments dictate. Be a friend to all in trade because the economic factor has always been a major driving factor in most, if not all, human activities.

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