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As China rises, geopolitical talks turn to the Asian economy and media

As China rises, geopolitical talks turn to the Asian economy and media

The economic power shift from West to East is changing priorities in the world’s geopolitical chess game, as ‘war on terror’ gives way to economic and political discussions in Asia.

May 15, 2011 11:28 by

“I really think it’s caught the spirit of the moment,” says Wikistrat CEO Joel Zamel. “There is much more interest in a kind of ‘grand strategy’ approach.

“We’ve had much more interest from around the world than we expected — Indian universities will be representing India, Israeli universities Israel, Singaporean Singapore, Japanese Japan, US schools the US. We’ve had to keep adding countries.”

Much of the new struggle for power between states will take place largely out of sight, experts say, with confrontation in cyberspace or over economic issues such as currency strength largely replacing military conflicts or colonial struggles.


But as well as facing off against each other, many experts say nation states must also manage relations with a rising range of non-state groups, from militants such as Al Qaeda to international corporations. The leaderless social media-fuelled revolutions of the Middle East suggest public opinion may become more important than ever before — and perhaps harder to manage.

“There are two power shifts happening at present,” said Joseph Nye, a former US deputy undersecretary of state and assistant secretary of defense, now professor of international relations at Harvard and author of one of several new books on shifting 21st-century global power structures.

“One is a transition of power between states, primarily from west to east and the other is a shift of power from nation states — both West and East — to non-state actors … You have to manage both,” he said.

It’s not that anyone expects the field of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency — and its associated jobs — to disappear with the death of bin Laden in the Pakistani town of Abbotabad and the withdrawal of Western troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. But there are those who publicly worry that the “war on terror” meant attention was focused on the wrong places, and that there is an urgent need to build wider expertise both amongst young graduates and the most senior policymakers.

“The idea that the main geopolitical threat to Western security came from a guy in a compound in Abbotabad who spent most of his time watching television is frankly preposterous,” says Niall Ferguson, professor of history and international relations at Harvard and author of another book and television series on the power shift from West.

“The main geopolitical issue for the United States is the rise of China. You need a strategy to deal with it and if it’s not a strategy to build regional alliances that include countries like India and Japan, you have no choice but to face decline.” (By Peter Apps, editing by David Stamp)

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