Is Greater Eurasia a Self-Sustaining Geoeconomic Ecosystem?
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By Mathew Maavak
Mathew Maavak is a doctoral researcher in Security Foresight at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).
Time to reorient our worldview?
“Global interconnectedness” and “global governance” are the unchallenged dictums of the day. But is this Eurocentric axiom relevant anymore? This may sound rather disconcerting but the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) or Greater Eurasia – facilitated by Russian geopolitics and Chinese Silk Road initiatives –may in fact constitute a self-sustaining ecosystem.
Proponents of the global village paradigm may be discomposed by this suggestion but as Groucho Marx once said: “A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” That is all. There is no omen really with this natural feline ambulation, except within minds prone to preconditioning. Similarly, the flapping wings of a butterfly in Beijing need not induce a hurricane in the United States – as a sensationalist physics theory goes – for it represents the zenith of a humble life that begins from a tiny cocoon. And cocoons produce strands of silk that weave their way around the world, seeking appreciation and markets. The revived Silk Road is akin to the cycle of life itself. There will be struggles, roadblocks and even setbacks but these can be surmounted to the extent humanly possible.
The Eastern mind is less receptive to the idea of an integrated global solution for every human problem. If troubles can beset the best of households; how much more the global village? Life is an ever-present struggle for balance. While the East is inspired by the yin and yang, the West resorts to the latest magic bullet, usually with disastrous consequences.
Therein lies the difference between the Occidental and Oriental worldviews: The former seeks insatiable degrees of control to solve human woes while the latter seeks to balance discord with prosperity and harmony wherever and whenever possible. While the West seeks a concepts-first approach, the East prefers an “actions-first” pathway.
The diametrically opposite outcomes of both approaches can be gauged from our daily global headlines. Which part of the planet is facing greater social instability, financial turmoil and the spectre of terrorist attacks on any given month?
The Asian Renaissance
According to the World Economics Database, Asia’s share of the world’s real GDP grew considerably faster than all other continents, from 16.8% in 1962 to 44.4% in 2014. But growth rates do not accurately describe the strategic, widening East-West chasm. The Asian renaissance has percolated into every facet of life via products ranging from sandals to surgical instruments to aerospace components.
What is happening to the global village then? It has been transplanted into the more fecund grounds of the East. With each passing day, the building blocks of human industry are gravitating eastwards. A car manufactured in China will have additional local components and innovations over time although occasionally, it may need an Italian design or a Swiss patent to complete the product. That Chinese car however, can still run on older designs and patents. That makes a world of a strategic difference as the East can exist without the West, perhaps admittedly at a sub-optimal level, but the West cannot function for a single day without the East.
This is a frightening reality for the West which may resort to global destabilization and “rebalancing” measures via its own patented variation of the yin and yang called “shock and awe.”
The Silk Road Bazaar
E-commerce giant Alibaba broke global retail records with sales of $14.3 billion on “China Singles’ Day” on Nov 11. This constituted an increase of 60pc from last year’s 11/11 sales. This figure is set to improve next year with an anticipated increase in product offerings and mobile connectivity.
Touching on mobile connectivity, Chinese giants Huawei and Xiaomi are now the third and fourth largest smartphone manufacturers in the world. Xiaomi managed to achieve this feat without entering the US, European and Australasian markets whose consumers were once the global trendsetters. The global market paradigm is changing; Xiaomi has fewer incentives to penetrate the West and is instead concentrating on providing a Chinese fillip to the “Make in India” program. The Redmi 2 Prime smartphone is now manufactured in Andhra Pradesh, where it will be deconstructed and improved by the tinkering of Indian geeks who may provide Xiaomi with an incomparable feedback loop. Xiaomi tutorials on YouTube are increasingly delivered through an Indian accent.
The Silk Road may be lush with many exotic accents, sounds and music but Alibaba’s 40 compatriots have been busy reorienting the source of traditional Occidental lilts as well. A quick online search for a Celtic lyre harp would reveal that they are mainly made in Sialkot, Pakistan, along with iconic Scottish bagpipes and accessories. Only Alibaba connects the prospective buyer to the OEM manufacturer – door-to-door on a global scale – without the need for Western retail mark-ups.
From cutting-edge 4G technology to India’s scheduled launch of six Singaporean satellites in December to painstakingly-crafted rosewood harps, Greater Eurasia is a one-stop global bazaar.
This state of geographic autarky will only continue as time is on Greater Eurasia’s side. Even its timepieces are achieving autarky. The Russian watch brand, Raketa, is reportedly one of the only few in the world that can manufacture all its components in its country of origin. (Rolex and Swatch do so as well).
The West knows it can no longer compete with the East, except in luxury items that cater to a dwindling few. While the West is losing its economic competitiveness and socio-political cohesion, Asia is closing ranks. For the first time ever, the leaders of China and Taiwan shook hands recently to signify a growing Asian renaissance based on cooperation, moderation and pragmatism.
A trillion-dollar question however remains: Will the West throw a clunker into the Greater Eurasian machinery?
@Mathew Maavak, 2015.
Blog: Mathew Maavak