Drivers of Global Change: Responding to East Asian Economic and Institutional Innovation

Asia has become a source of tremendous change in today’s world. Over the last twenty years, China’s economic rise and increasingly assertive foreign policy have introduced numerous elements of innovation into markets, institutions and governance, and the implications of these innovations for the region and beyond have yet to be fully appreciated. China’s heightening competition with the United States is now attracting wider and closer attention, especially to repercussions impacting critical issues. How should the different players – Europe in particular – respond to dynamics that are reshaping the way the world works?

The Asia Prospects Program of the Torino World Affairs Institute asked eleven prominent scholars from East Asia, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Brazil and Australia to single out the most relevant East Asian drivers of global change. By looking at various areas, from state–market relations to global value chains, they have shown why the workings of the global political economy can no longer be taken for granted. Despite the success of the New Cold War narrative, China is no Soviet Union: Beijing is set to become the largest economy in the world and, in reaching this point, it has triggered rapidly unfolding changes in an array of crucial spheres.

Responding to such transformational challenges originating in East Asia is the task of our time. Because of the dense and complicated interactions between politics, economics and security, as well as international and domestic domains, this task requires remarkable competence and resourcefulness.

With the ambition of enabling key players in the economic and political realms to successfully seize the many opportunities stemming from a system in flux, while minimizing the risk of entering a dysfunctional or even conflictual mode of global relations, the Asia Prospects network has identified seven East Asian drivers of global change: state–market relations, digital money, development finance, global value chains, regional institutions, climate change impact and non-traditional security. Our contributors highlight the disruptive potential and expected impacts of each driver, as well as identifying the essential elements that may contribute to an effective response; the founding assumption of the analysis is that a functional global economy, supported by sound institutions, is in the interest of all parties.

East Asia is the region to watch, not only because it contains the world’s most dynamic economies, but also because its combined rise and systemic innovation necessitate new reflections on governance at all levels, from local to global. Well aware as I am that ideas shape the world, I wish to express my gratitude to the distinguished scholars who have enthusiastically participated in this project and all those who have, since its inception, supported an exercise in foresight that may well prove decisive in the coming years.

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