For the past two centuries, Western world with a single uniformed ideology has been in control. Often through aggressive and bold conquests, their methodology in dealing with other world members carries a strong sense of ‘self-labelled superiority’. The truth is not one country is in my view more superior or better or stronger than another. One cannot overlook any nation based on the size, population or ‘power’. Every nation is and can be powerful and influential. Every nation deserves their own right to choose whatever ideology they wish to follow. Every nation is a member of this world and although overcoming differences is difficult, it is not hard for one to learn to respect another. Past history has reflected the devastating consequences of colonisation. Sadly, to a small degree, some nations and policies still carry that hint of colonial style. We cannot allow one force to dominant and influence our understanding and interpretation of the world nor can we fall into the trap of labeling other nations who, in accordance with their rights, wish to remain culturally, socially and ideologically intact. We can make this world, regions and nations stronger by realising that we must learn the beauty, achievements and strengths of every nation. Yes, there is beauty and strengths worthy of our attention and there is an endless list of every nations’ strengths and values that I admire.
Now, we are seeing more people expressing a hope to live in a symbiotically harmonious world, one despite being surrounded by continuing arguments and conflicts will use non-violent means in finding a resolution. One obvious example is the increasing importance of the role that diplomacy and international organisations can play during the decision-making process. Whether it is organisation within the same region (EU, ASEAN, African Summit), geographic location (APEC), economic capacity/competency (BRICS, G-20) or international participation (UN, WTO, WHO), they all play a role in promoting multilateral exchanges and collaboration. The world with unilateral arbitrariness is shifting towards a more multilateral consensus- building position where, no longer, can a single country or ideology conduct and strongly influence the functioning of international affairs. I welcome such multilateral collaboration since only by listening and seeing how someone else perceive and approach an issue, can we truly learn to find the most correct path for our own nation. We are taught from school to cooperate and learn from others. Why can’t this simple lesson be applied to international politics?
Political changes linked with social changes and above all power will bring with it economical and market control. If one country with dwindling influences, allow another nation that is completely different philosophically, ideologically with different civilisational roots to take over then most likely, it would not be a peaceful transition of power.
Looking at the past empires, regardless of whether it was the German, Spanish, French or the transition from British to current US dominance, such changes were accepted by other members with few hostile sentiments. Despite the US taking the power seat from Britain, the two countries still consider each other to be close allies. I feel that the reason is that both belong to the same ideology thus the concept of shifting power to another member in the same group is not as unacceptable nor does it ignite a sense of shame? humiliation? jealousy? and disbelief. Collective superiority is still maintained.
Take the example of China and Russia. As two contrasting nations each with rising confidence and influences, they are able to contest that long-held dominance. Unfortunately, instead of welcoming such change and seeing it as opportunity and not as a threat, the world is seeing a shift in mentality back into the old cold-war era. Internal, external and regional pressures are and will be placed in order to minimize such threat. But there really is no need since new countries will emerge, balance and build a new world order. History has shown that this is inevitable and perhaps my views are too naïve but one can never be seen or moulded into a threat unless it is perceived and psychologically changed into one. China and Russia are certainly not a threat but they will be pushed into being one should other nations consistently see them in that light.
It is easy for nations to behave like high school kids. The more popular and bigger ones group together to find confidence and dominance and will use bully tactics to target those who are new and upcoming. I understand such alliances but surely we are pass that age of immaturity…right?
Like alliances, organisations too receive criticism. One on the APEC is that they do not serve a useful purpose. One example, especially from the viewpoints of European countries, is that they cannot take part in its decision-making. However, this is clearly absurd since the usefulness and effectiveness of any organisation can be questioned and can Asian countries join and participate in EU decision-making? Can America participate in African Summit? Another organisation under the spotlight is the UN. Its main purpose is to resolve issues through diplomacy before countries resort to military force and before conflicts escalate. Unfortunately, UN can only play the observer role. At times, I fail to understand the real need, purpose and functioning of major organisations and international meetings since I feel that nothing is really being done and no improvements are made. Nevertheless, the world needs such organisation.
The multi-national, multilateral organisation, which, at the expense of taxpayers, are responsible for finding solutions through discussions about differences, are dubbed ‘sheep’ by me since they are weaker and at time ineffective. Regardless of the type of organisation, the assembly of countries only reflects a unilateral approach and it is often this approach that is hiding behind this arena of exchange and dialogue. Whether any world organisation can accomplish anything constructive, effective or efficient remains debatable. Perhaps they are merely a fragile shell, just wolves amongst the sheep or ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ but in this ever-chaotic world where despite the common acknowledgement for multilateral consensus, unilateral influences and single ideological stance still lingers . In order to minimise the damages caused by the wolves, we still need the sheep since it is the sheep that gives us opportunities for communication.
Wei Yuan Min ( Global Business Journalism, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China).