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Kazakhstan to become financial center in the middle of Silk Road: global strategist

22 May 2018 20:23
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Kazakhstan to become financial center in the middle of Silk Road: global strategist

ASTANA. KAZINFORM - Parag Khanna, a Senior Research Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, who arrived in Astana to participate in the Global Challenges Summit 2018, shared his views in an exclusive interview to Kazinform International News Agency.

Mr. Khanna, your book "How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance" was published in 2011. The book maintains that the world has entered a "new Middle Ages", i.e. a multi-polar world, where, alongside traditional states and governments, transnational corporations, religious groups, non-governmental organizations and many others take part in a big political game. In this case, the new Middle Ages world will be formed by 2030. It's been seven years since the book was published. Has your view changed?

The world is becoming ever more like that middle ages scenario, where you have a number of great powers, you have powerful civilizations, you have America, Asia, and within Asia - China, India, and others. Where you also have powerful cities, and cities are the drivers of national economies. You have a lot more connectivity, you have the silk roads that are reforming among them. You have a lot of transnational groups like the companies and NGOs, and so on. So, the world is becoming more and more like that all the time. And the purpose of the book was to argue for what I called ‘mega-diplomacy', i.e. the idea that governments alone cannot solve problems. You have to have coalitions, coalitions of companies, civil society, governments, and cities working together.

Is your concept of the new Middle Ages world relevant today? Will the significance of mega-cities in the present-day world order continue getting greater?

Mega-cities are becoming more important than ever because they are becoming larger, they are becoming more critical to national, regional, and the global economy, they becoming more connected to each other. So, the money that accumulates in one city is being shared through investment with other cities. The people are moving back and forth and sharing lessons and technologies, and finance, and business. So, mega-cities are becoming more and more important.

"The world desperately needs stronger regional security organizations to take their places alongside the EU, ASEAN, the AU, and other major groups as the lead arbiters of stability in their regions," you hold in your book. It is evident that regional associations are being created everywhere in the world. Everyone knows that Kazakhstan also is a member of a number of major international regional organizations. In your opinion, will the regionalization trends continue to grow?

Yes and no. There are some governments that are curtailing and reducing the power of companies, they are taxing them more, they are forcing them to be regulated more. You see this with finance and technology in Europe. The other places where there is more freedom for companies to operate globally are American companies that are very worried about the shrinking of the U.S. market, the slow economic growth, the aging of the population, the empty technology mindset. So, they are expanding globally, so you see more American tech companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon expanding into India and Southeast Asia and trying to get into China. Then, you have the Chinese companies going global like Alibaba, Huawei, and Tencent with their apps that everyone is using all over the world. So, there are some examples of restraining companies, and other examples of companies flourishing at the same time.

In another work "The new Silk Road is made of iron - and stretches from Scotland to Singapore," you say that the future of Eurasia is similar to its medieval past. And life in Eurasia will center mainly along the new branches of the Silk Road. What do you think about the future of the countries?

The difference in the argument is that the world is being divided into places that are connected and disconnected. So, success depends on how connected you are. The cities of Central Asia have an opportunity to be very connected because of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is evident that not all of them will succeed, but Almaty and Astana will succeed. It depends on taking advantage of the opportunity. And my argument that you have to take advantage of the infrastructure that is being built to connect the large European population, the large Asian population. And you sit right in the middle. So it is a very important time to recreate the silk roads. The Silk Road will not happen by itself as someone has to drive it, someone has to take advantage of it, and someone has to be the conduit to make sure that everything safely moves back and forth and to be the financial center in the middle and that is what Kazakhstan can be.

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