The Asia-Europe Cooperation Dialogue will be held in Chongqing City, from 1-2 December, and bring together more than 300 esteemed guests from the super continent to discuss the future of their partnership amid uncertain times.
The event is part of the Boao Forum for Asia, colloquially known as the “Asian Davos,” and is expected to be extremely influential in shaping the global discourse. It’s also important to note that the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) is expected to figure prominently in discussions.
The world’s geo-economic gravity has decisively shifted eastward in recent years, but this “return to history” (seeing as how the East used to be the world’s economic centre prior to the advent of Western colonialism a little more than half a millennium ago) has engendered a strong reaction from the U.S., which has a self-interested stake in preserving the previous status quo at all costs.
The subsequent trade war was a unilateral act of economic aggression aimed at disrupting global trade flows between the hemispheres.
Unwittingly, however, it also created the impetus for more intense Asia-Europe cooperation and dialogue in response, ergo the eponymous name of the forthcoming event. Most countries in the super continent are opposed to American moves because they’ve invested everything in building a future of multilateralism and peaceful partnership, which is why they now have the incentive to take their developing ties even further in order to sustainably resist the pressure that’s bearing on them from halfway across the world.
Asia’s phoenix-like rise doesn’t necessarily imply replacing Europe like the latter attempted to do with it over the centuries, but is geared towards advancing mutually beneficial outcomes that see each part of the super continent complement the other in creating a future of shared destiny.
BRI is the embodiment of this vision because it entails physical, economic, technological, and socio-cultural connectivity between Eurasia’s many diverse peoples, thus making it historically unprecedented and therefore revolutionary.
The Asia-Europe Cooperation Dialogue will deal with each of these dimensions, particularly the technological one that’s the power behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution. China is leading the way in this respect, and its many partners are naturally interested in soliciting its 5G services in order to ensure that they’re not left behind during this period of rapid development that will be largely dependent on that technology. Strengthening multilateral cooperation in this respect is therefore imperative for all countries.
More broadly, the principle of multilateralism itself is the only way to withstand the divide-and-rule design of American disruptive unilateralism. Without working together, the Asian and European nations will be pitted against one another (both between each continental pair and within them), which would only benefit the party that’s so desperately seeking to keep them apart.
Seen in this way, BRI is the multilateral antibody to American virus of unilateralism because it encompasses all aspects of future development, is all-inclusive, and is win-win.
Stepping back and taking a look at the importance of the Asia-Europe Cooperation Dialogue in this larger context, it becomes apparent that the Boao Forum for Asia under which it’s being held is fast becoming a significant international event where global stakeholders can candidly discuss the most pressing international issues while brainstorming viable solutions for them.
Instead of just being a talking club, however, it brings together those who are capable of implementing the ideas that are discussed, thus making it very useful.
Looking ahead, next year’s Boao Forum for Asia will likely build upon the trends of enhancing physical connectivity through BRI’s infrastructure mega projects and exploring opportunities for deeper technological cooperation in the 5G sphere.
Both of these could ultimately result in a super continental-wide free trade area in the future best case scenario, which is the grand strategic aim that all supporters of the multilateral world order should aim for in order to counteract the divisive consequences of U.S.-led unilateralism.