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The New Balance of Powers - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The new decisions concerning the shift in voting power at the World Bank which was taken during meetings in Washington reflects the new economic and political balance of power in the international arena. It is not strange that China now ranks third in terms of voting power [at the World Bank] behind the two economic superpowers, the USA and Japan, for China is an emerging power. Even though China continues to play a cautious game on the international chessboard, China has become akin to a rival superpower. The same applies to Brazil and India, as well as other nascent powers whose voting weight [in the World Bank] has increased at the expense of traditional industrial powers.

These are changes in the Bretton Woods system which was originally set up to establish the rules for commercial and financial relations in the post-World War II era and which has remained largely unchanged since then other than a few changes which have taken place over the past two years.

A fact worth mentioning during this current transitional stage in which a new world order is being established in line with the new international reality is that these changes first took place in the economic field. The G7, which is comprised of the seven major industrial countries, and which drew up international policy during its two annual meetings, expanded following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union to include an old power in its new form i.e. Russia, to become the G8. Over the past two years, this grouping has expanded to become the G20 and includes emerging economic powers like China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. This is the alternative framework to the G8 and the main platform for coordinating international financial and economic policies.

As for the political arena, discussions have been taking place for many years with regards to changing the composition of the UN Security Council and adding a new Security Council Permanent Member, and there are many candidates for this position from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. However nobody expects anything to be achieved in the short-term, and there is fierce competition for this position for unlike the economy which relies upon statistics and figures, political leverage and influence is not visible and a continual cause for controversy.

It is also worth noting that the countries that improved their international position and joined the senior [international] club were able to do so thanks to economic development, and nothing else. In the end, the criteria by which nation’s powers are measured is their economic capabilities, for it is this which allows investment on military and scientific capabilities, as well as improving education levels and the standard of living. However these countries are not safe from crises, and they are all facing regional crises. China for example is facing the crisis in Taiwan, while India has its conflict with Pakistan; however these countries were able to manage these crises in their own interests and avoid clashing with the international community, and they may be able to take advantage of the recent developments.

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim is Asharq Al-Awsat's deputy editor-in-chief. He is based in London.

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