THE global system that the United States built and sustained with its economic, military and soft power since World War II appears to be breaking up now amid severe challenges. Raging conflicts, like the one in the Middle East and, indeed, the full-scale war between Ukraine and Russia, are taking the world in a different direction. Also, there is a worsening debt crisis in most of the developing world. The poor state of governance, especially in Latin America and Africa, is leading to a massive immigration crisis not only on American borders, but also in Europe, leading to right-wing populism in many countries. And, not to forget, the threat of climate change is now a global reality with its own set of large-scale catastrophic consequences. A new world is emerging, and it is not necessarily a better one.

The US-led order, with liberal democracy and globalisation as its main features, is clearly under stress.

The growing economic disparity within the US has ignited public resentment, and US foreign interven-tionism has fuelled the rise of popular movements, like the one that has gripped university campuses in the US.

In this rather chaotic world, China seems to be doing well. Despite the decline of its economy and serious demographic challenges, China has emerged as a formidable political and economic giant. The country’s role in global affairs in terms of shaping economic, technological and geopolitical issues has to be acknolwedged.

Shafi A. Khowaja & Dr Pooja Merchant
Hyderabad

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024

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