The West needs to brace for the Great Reset as new voices challenge the established world order
- China’s rise and America’s failings have shifted world opinion and set the scene for Asia and the rest to clash with the US and Europe over ideologies and values
- As geopolitical tensions rise, a Hong Kong used to Western voices will benefit by more deeply understanding Asian perspectives
We have entered the Age of the Great Reset. We are likely to come out at the other end with a world quite different from the one we have become used to. Let’s hope it will be a better one.
The perspectives of non-Western experiences are increasingly being articulated and heard, and new voices are challenging the dominant narratives.
History can explain the collision of ideologies and values between the East and West, and between the North and South.
The second world war was followed by a period of decolonisation in the Asia-Pacific and Africa between 1945 and the 1970s. Many new nations struggled to establish stability after long periods of imperial rule when their land, resources and labour were exploited.
The Cold War may be said to have ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The dominant narrative then was that the superiority of the American democratic-capitalist system enabled the US to “win” because it could outdo the Soviets in amassing weaponry and generating material wealth.
Asia has become a fast-growing economic region. It’s advancement has been a result of improving education of the people, integrating Asian economies into the global system through export production, and strengthening the capacity of public institutions.
African countries have been making strides too, especially since 2000, in their socio-economic advancement and governance performance.
The US has been forcing the pace of the Age of the Great Reset. Its seemingly orderly governing system and successful market-capitalist economic and financial systems used to be seen as the model to emulate. That has changed.
The 2008 financial crisis gave rise to doubts and a distrust of Western financial practices, and exposed the weaknesses, especially of the American regulatory and supervisory systems.
Hank Paulson, former head of the US Treasury, wrote in his book that Wang Qishan – now China’s vice-president – said to him in June 2008 that perhaps the Chinese didn’t have much to learn about finance from America any more.
Fast forward to today, and how the world sees Russia and the Ukraine war provides a good example of the difference in perspectives between the East and West, the North and South.
Last June, when asked why Europe should stick up for India if China were to present a challenge, if New Delhi didn’t take a tough stance on Russia now, India’s external affairs minister S. Jaishankar provided a harsh retort: “That’s not how the world works.”
The pace of the reset is being framed today in simplistic terms – that democracies must fight autocracies, with the US leading the charge together with its Group of 7 allies, and that the “rule-based international order” must be maintained.
The reset will continue and it can be unsettling, especially for Hong Kong, if fighting should break out in the neighbourhood. The world needs better angels to cool geopolitical tensions.
Christine Loh, a former undersecretary for the environment, is an adjunct professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology