For the prognosticators on the US National Intelligence Council who sat down in 2004 to consider what the world might look like in 2020, the answer hinged heavily on one big question: What did the future of globalization look like?
Their answer: Not great.
By 2020, they predicted, globalization would face a political backlash in a world increasingly plagued by identity politics. Yet if anything was going to really derail economic integration, it would likely be the mass spread of a virulent new disease.
“Short of a major global conflict, which we regard as improbable, another large-scale development that we believe could stop globalization would be a pandemic,” the council warned in a report laying out the findings of its “Project 2020.” A death toll in the millions and a virus that “put a halt to global travel and trade during an extended period” would certainly leave globalization “endangered.”
Nearly three months into 2020 and it’s not hard to make the case for why that rings true.
There is an alternative view that holds globalization may actually be a lot more resilient today than it seemed in 2004, in the halcyon days before smartphones had taken over our lives.
But what would it take in the months ahead to get to Doomsday for globalization? It all hinges on the reaction from policy makers to the coronavirus crisis. So here are three things to watch for. If these happen, we should be ready for the shape-shifting in globalization we’ve seen in recent years to morph into a deep freeze.
1. New barriers to exports
White House trade hawk Peter Navarro, in a recent Financial Times interview, criticized the export controls some countries have placed on medicines and medical supplies like face masks. His motivation may be pure. But Navarro tends to like anything that makes his argument for a shift away from globalization. Navarro has said he wants to repatriate supply chains for national security reasons and advocated stricter controls on tech exports to China. What if he convinced US President Donald Trump to ban exports of not just face masks or medicines but shipments of an eventual vaccine? And other countries followed suit? What if the controls shifted to food stockpiles?
2. New import restrictions
Chinese trade data for January and February pointed to the damage so far from China’s industrial shutdown last month. Exports were down 17.2 percent in dollar terms. But what if the US and other countries started limiting imports of goods coming by air and sea not just from China but from South Korea, Italy and other affected countries? And those countries retaliated and did the same?
3. A collapse in global governance
The emergence of a battle between Saudi Arabia and Russia over oil production early this month caused crude prices to tumble dramatically. What if such discord spills to the G-7 or the G-20? What happens if, driven by fear of a virus, global economic policy makers can’t get on the same page? Or, worse, actively start working against each other in an area like, say, currencies?
Robert Hutchings, the former diplomat and Princeton academic who led the National Intelligence Council as it prepared its 2004 report, said in a recent email exchange that the point they were trying to make was “that globalization is a ubiquitous force that carries with it bad consequences as well as good.”
Ominously, he added: “We particularly wanted to argue that globalization is not irreversible.”
FOLLOW UP 讀後練習
1. What was the main factor identified in the Project 2020 report that could hinder globalization?
2. According to the article, which three aspects of the global reaction to the COVID-19 crisis will provide an indication of the future of globalization?
3. Epidemics have been a major force in shaping human history. What are the similarities and differences between the current COVID-19 crisis and previous disease outbreaks?
4. Despite the warnings of health experts and the predictions of researchers, why do you think that the world was so unprepared for the COVID-19 crisis?
(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
1. globalization n.
(quan2 qiu2 hua4)
2. identity politics phr.
(shen1 fen4 ren4 tong2 zheng4 zhi4)
3. economic integration phr.
(jing1 ji4 zheng3 he2)
4. virulent adj.
(ju4 du2 de5; zhi4 ming4 de5)
5. pandemic n.
(da4 liu2 xing2 bing4; wen1 yi4)
6. repatriate v.
(che4 hui2; qian2 fan3)
7. vaccine n.
8. ubiquitous adj.
(pu3 bian4 cun2 zai4 de5)
Three adopted Japanese shibas — eight-year-old male Hero, three-year-old female Wish and the latest addition to the family in 2017, a male named Tiger — are the main protagonists of a Facebook page created by their owner, called Hero&Wish, which has over 5,000 followers. Tiger was originally a stray, although it is unclear what caused him to be homeless. Fortunately, he tramped onto a school campus in southern Taiwan. While classes were underway, the forlorn sound of feeble footsteps reverberated in the corridor outside. A teacher went out to investigate and discovered Tiger, with an astonishing trail of bloody paw prints
A: It’s difficult to know what we will need for a two-week quarantine. So far I’ve ordered bread, vegetables, meat — and a large box of Korean-style spicy instant noodles. B: Um, if we have a fever, we will want to eat plain food, like rice porridge or chicken soup. A: That’s true. I’ll add a bag of rice to the order and we can make some chicken soup, divide it into individual portions and freeze it. A: 很難想得到我們隔離兩個星期會需要些什麼。到目前為止，我訂了麵包、蔬菜、肉類──還有一大盒韓式辣泡麵。 B: 呃，如果我們發燒的話，應該會想吃清淡的食物吧，像是稀飯或是雞湯。 A: 這倒是真的。我再加一袋米到訂單裡面好了，然後我們可以做一些雞湯，把它分裝以後拿去冷凍。 English 英文: Chinese 中文:
With billions of people around the world suddenly adjusting to social distancing measures as part of the battle to slow the spread of COVID-19, some professionals who are used to confinement have some tips. From astronauts to submariners, here are some practical ways to boost your well-being and stave off cabin fever during those weeks stuck at home. ‘Have a schedule’ Scott Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut, spent nearly a year aboard the International Space Station. He told AFP that mindset was crucial. “People need to have the right expectation, we don’t know when this is gonna be
The Tokyo Olympics will be postponed to next year, and here are some major challenges to the postponement, according to AFP. First, competition scheduling. Moving the Olympics into next year’s busy sporting calendar will be a logistical nightmare, as it may clash with the World Aquatics Championships and other big events. Next, venue problems. Among the total of 43 sites, some are temporary while others are repurposed or purpose-built for the Games. All will face various difficulties in the event of a delay. The International Olympic Committee also warns: “A number of critical venues needed for the Games could potentially not