Geopolitical Risk Outlook: Is it all about China?

At the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai, the first plenary on the second day of the event (13 November) focused on geopolitical risks and possible shocks to global stability. The debate featured former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd as well as “G-Zero” proponent Ian Bremmer, President of the consulting firm Eurasia Group. Much of the discussion centered on China and the question of whether China’s rise is a major global risk. “There is a risk that the rise of China upsets the apple cart,” Bremmer said. Countered Wu Xinbo, Professor at Fudan University: “China’s rise is not the risk; it is how others react to it that is the challenge.”  Wu argued that China is willing to be a responsible stakeholder within the framework of the post-Second World War institutions, but it wants them restructured to reflect the realities of the 21st century. “Now we want reform,” Wu declared. “If you want us to be a responsible stakeholder, then give us more stakes!”

For his part, Rudd told participants that he was concerned about the risk of conflict in the South China and East China Seas. “Domestic nationalisms could take relations beyond tipping point,” he warned. While he described the incoming Chinese leadership as “formidable”, he cautioned that, if they fail to change China’s growth model to one that is driven more by domestic consumption, the political implications would be significant. China’s rise, he added, was not a risk but a challenge – a phenomenon of globalization that the world has to get used to. Rudd dismissed Europe as “largely irrelevant” in geopolitical terms.

Also on the panel: Lisa Anderson, the President of the American University in Cairo, and Habib Ben Yahia, Secretary-General of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU).

Watch the debate:


2 thoughts on “Geopolitical Risk Outlook: Is it all about China?

  1. Juan Manuel López Nadal

    Most interesting debate.
    I rather agree with Ian Bremmer : the real concern should not be the rise of China, but the rise of the Chinese anti-democratic regime…

  2. Anastasia Maria Stitch

    Bremmer’s view that Obama’s “doctrine” of economic statecraft and the pivot to Asia is not to be confused with containment, but rather is a form of hedging is interesting. More importantly, he is right to warn about the possibility of rising tensions being perceived by regional neighbour’s as containment, leading to the unintended consequence of them reacting as if it is so.

    Therefore, the impact of the rise of China is by far “the largest geopolitical risk in the world today” if only for this reason.


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