Editorial - October/November 2017

James Lewis
In our June 2011 edition, Global Insight explored the notion that, just as the twentieth century is often referred to as ‘The American Century’, the twenty-first century could be China’s. That prospect looks ever more likely. Several major developments, some of which are covered in this edition, suggest that this could well be a pivotal moment that sees a significant shift in global economic power from America to China.
This magazine has analysed the recent reversal for both countries. In part, the result of President Trump’s administration looking inwards, shifting to a protectionist position and rejecting long-negotiated multi-lateral trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Several well-informed commentators view this as having handed a clear advantage to China as it sets about establishing its own trade arrangements – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) being one prominent example.
Meanwhile, China’s dynamic transition – from long-established introspection to strident self-assertion, both regionally and globally – appears to be in full flight. Our cover feature, ‘Belt and Road: China’s global expansion’, assesses one of the many aspects of China’s continued rise. The country is investing trillions of dollars putting transport infrastructure in place across Africa and Eurasia to ensure both access to essential natural resources and that widespread trade links are in place.
Questions are rightly being asked about the rights and wrongs of China investing in dubious regimes with poor credit ratings. China’s own rating has also been downgraded recently, suggesting it’s unlikely to be plain sailing (either for China or the global economy).
The IBA Annual Conference in Sydney is imminent as this edition goes to press, and such issues are likely to be front and centre for various speakers at sessions and during Global Insight interviews with them. Michael Froman, for example, was Barack Obama’s negotiator on TPP. Xu Sitao is Deloitte’s China Chief Economist, based in Beijing. Both are exceptionally well placed to provide unique insight.
We will, as ever, provide extensive highlights of the conference: in the next edition of Global Insight, on the Association’s website, www.ibanet.org, via the app and on social media.