A 'Bubbles of Trust' Approach- A Middle Path between the Extremes of Technological Sovereignty and Laissez-faire Globalization_00.1
UPSC Exam   »   The Quad- Countering China

A ‘Bubbles of Trust’ Approach- A Middle Path between the Extremes of Technological Sovereignty and Laissez-faire Globalization

A ‘Bubbles of Trust’ Approach- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: International Relations- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

A 'Bubbles of Trust' Approach- A Middle Path between the Extremes of Technological Sovereignty and Laissez-faire Globalization_50.1

 

A ‘Bubbles of Trust’ Approach- Context

  • The world is currently witnessing a global retreat from the free movement of goods, services, capital, people and ideas.
  • However, this should not be understood as a reaction to globalisation itself, but of its skewed pattern over the past four decades.

A 'Bubbles of Trust' Approach- A Middle Path between the Extremes of Technological Sovereignty and Laissez-faire Globalization_50.1

 

A ‘Bubbles of Trust’ Approach- Chinese Rise and Associated Challenges

  • Asymmetric Globalization: Favoured China and allowed Beijing to attain power.
    • The Chinese market was never open to foreign companies in the way foreign markets are to Chinese firms (particularly true in the information and communications technology sector).
  • Undermining Democratic Values: Chinese firms rode on the globalisation bandwagon to secure significant market shares in open economies.
    • Now, China is using its accumulated power to undermine liberal democratic values around the world.
    • Chinese firms are now formally required to follow the political agenda of the Chinese Communist Party.

New Quadrilateral Economic Forum- The Other Quad

 

Countering Chinese Dominance- Quad’s advantage

  • Changing the rules of Engagement: The Quad countries must stop seeing engagement with China through the misleading prism of free trade and globalisation.
    • Quad Countries: Japan, India, Australia and the U.S.
  • New Economic Program: Quad countries should establish a new form of economic cooperation consistent with their geopolitical interests.
    • Without an economic program, the Quad’s geopolitical and security agenda stand on tenuous foundations.
  • Balancing self-reliance with technological cooperation: as reorienting and de-risking global supply chains is one thing, pursuing technological sovereignty is inherently self-defeating.
    • In the area of critical and emerging technologies, no single country can replicate the combined genius of the world.
  • Cooperation in the Technological sector: A convergence of values and geopolitical interests means Quad countries are uniquely placed to envelop their economies inside bubbles of trust, starting with the technology sector.
  • Complementarities in capabilities can power innovation and growth:
    • S.: a global leader in intellectual property.
    • Japan: a global leader in high-value manufacturing,
    • Australia: a global leader in advanced niches such as quantum computing and cyber security, and
    • India: have advantages in human capital.

 

Quad’s advantage- Way Forward

  • Creating ‘bubbles of trust’: It offers a cautious middle path between the extremes of technological sovereignty and laissez-faire globalisation.
  • Advantages of ‘bubbles of trust’:
    • Unlike trading blocs, which tend to be insular, bubbles tend to expand organically, attracting new partners that share values, interests and economic complementarities.
    • Such expansion will be necessary, as the Quad cannot fulfill its strategic ambitions merely by holding a defensive line against authoritarian power.
  • Develop ‘bubbles of trust’ framework: Quad’s Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group should develop this, which could be then adopted at the next Quad summit.
    • The framework would allow the scope of the cooperation to be limited to information industries avoiding the long and complex negotiations typical of trade agreements.

 

Conclusion

  • Quad countries should manage their dependencies on China while simultaneously developing a new vision for the global economy.
  • Member countries of the Quad cannot afford to allow differences of approach on privacy, data governance and the digital economy to widen.

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