Sommaire N°21

Novembre 2008

Jean-Pierre ROCHE


Pays émergents et nouveaux équilibres internationaux

Christophe JAFFRELOT

Le phénomène «pays émergents»

Mary-Françoise RENARD

Quel développement économique pour la Chine ?


Les incertitudes du modèle politique chinois

Frédéric LANDY

L'Inde ou la disparité

Jean-Joseph BOILLOT

La nouvelle place de l'Inde dans l'industrie


Le Brésil : un BRIC… qui reste encore Belindia(1)

Olivier DABÈNE

Le Brésil de Lula entre difficultés intérieures et projection internationale


Pas de nouvelle guerre froide entre Nord et Sud


François JULLIEN

Intégrer les cultures de l'autre


Chocs pétrolier et céréalier : la responsabilité limitée des pays émergents


La recherche d'une main-d'oeuvre moins chère trouve ses limites


Le réchauffement climatique : un « dilemme du prisonnier » planétaire


Concilier sécurité alimentaire et développement durable

Jean-Louis MARTIN, Sylvain LACLIAS

Les « Prochains 13 »

Éducation, politique, santé, génétique... : les multiples facettes de la sélection

Frédéric WORMS

Limites et critères de la sélection


De la sélection naturelle à l'élection culturelle


L'identité sur la sellette

Philippe BRAUD

Du bon usage de la sélection dans les régimes démocratiques

Christian LEQUESNE

France/Grande-Bretagne : deux approches de la sélection

Jean-Louis SERRE

La sélection génétique : jusqu'où ?


Les résultats mitigés de la discrimination positive aux États-Unis


Jean-Michel LEFÈVRE

L'égalité contre l'équité


Solidarité et sélection des risques en matière de santé

© Sergey Bermeniev


Shashi Tharoor est président d'Afras Ventures et éditorialiste pour The Times of India.


Emerging countries and global geopolitics : are North and South heading for a new cold war?

The first half of the year 2008 has been dominated by events in China, from the tragic earthquake in Sichuan to the brutal suppression of Tibetan dissent (and of course the triumphantly successful Olympics). Tibet, and the world’s reaction to it, has raised major questions of global geopolitics. Does it portend a more profound split in world affairs, between countries of the developing South acutely conscious of China’s sensitivities over its sovereignty, and countries of the developed North outraged over Beijing’s crackdown in Lhasa? Is our globe about to witness a revival of the long-dormant debate between sovereignty and human rights, this time with Tibet as the centerpiece? More worrying still, could this be the onset of a new Cold War between a North devoted to human rights and an anti-colonial South led by China?

At one level, the argument that such a division is occurring is strong. The governments and media of the North have been virtually unanimous in decrying the Chinese Government’s conduct in Tibet, the arrest and detention of protestors and the constant vilification of the Dalai Lama, who is seen as a man of non-violence and as the revered spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Though some Western leaders (notably President Nicolas Sarkozy) did not follow through on their open threats to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, other leaders did stay away. In the South, however, despite some newspaper editorials sympathetic to the Tibetan people, the general tenor of both official and media reaction has been respectful of the Chinese. India, for instance, despite having provided asylum to the Dalai Lama and 110,000 Tibetans, made it clear that it cannot afford to alienate its largest trading partner, a neighbour well on the way to global superpower status, which is known to be extremely prickly over any presumed slights to its sovereignty over Tibet. Its neighbours, like Pakistan and Nepal, were even more vocal in their support for Beijing’s actions.

But fears of a new cold war between North and South are exaggerated. For one thing, there is a certain level of hypocrisy to the Northern denunciations of China’s behavior. The Beijing regime’s human rights record has not prevented the world’s rich democracies from tripping over themselves in a rush to trade with, invest in and receive investments from the People’s Republic. Whenever democracies like India hear sanctimonious lectures from Western capitals about the need to respect human rights principles, they are reminded of how the same countries coddled military dictatorships in Asia when it suited them to do so, from Pakistan to the Philippines. The notion of a serious divide across the world presumes that the North is genuine in its professions of principle. The South is convinced that, once the moral points have been scored for the benefit of domestic public opinion, the governments of the North will quickly get back to business as usual with China. In this, North and South are more alike than different.

There is also a problem on the other side of the putative divide. China is not the natural leader of the South; its development experience and economic clout are so exceptional that it is difficult for other developing countries to see themselves in the same mirror. More important, China’s position, while ostensibly anchored in a principle that other Southern Governments tend to uphold (that of sovereignty and non-interference), is also infused with a strong dash of national chauvinism that leaves even its allies cold. It is perfectly understandable for Chinese to be proud of China and to demonstrate that pride by jingoistic behavior in the streets of Beijing, but why should such passions inspire anyone who is not Chinese? By contrast, the spiritual teaching and Gandhian pacifism of the Dalai Lama finds a far more universal appeal, especially in democracies like India and Buddhist nations like Sri Lanka and Thailand. Their Governments may be reluctant to offend China, but their hearts are, in many cases, with the Tibetans rather than their sovereign overlords in Beijing. 

The same is true with regard to the latest situation to arise that has stoked fears of a new cold war -- the Russian assault on Georgia in August, which has added an additional protagonist to the scenario. Though Western sympathies were clearly with the beleaguered President Saakashvili, and tensions have intensified between Moscow and most Western capitals, Russia can hardly claim to be striking a blow for any principle valued in the global South. Indeed, almost no developing country has expressed solidarity with Moscow in its quarrel with the West. Russia's actions in crossing the international border into Georgia violated the very principle of state sovereignty to which governments of the South are so strongly attached, and Moscow has articulated no justification that could prompt other governments to make common cause with it.

Taking a broader view of the emerging countries, one is obliged to focus on the relationship between the two Asian giants, democratic India and autocratic China. It has become rather fashionable these days, in bien-pensant circles in the West, to speak of India and China in the same breath. These are the two big countries said to be taking over the world, the new contenders for global eminence after centuries of Western domination, the Oriental answer to generations of Occidental economic success. Some even speak of “Chindia”, as if the two are joined at the hip in the international imagination.

Count me amongst the sceptics. It’s not just that, aside from the fact that both countries occupy a rather vast landmass called “Asia”, they have very little in common. It’s also that the two countries are already at very different stages of development – China started its liberalization a good decade and a half before India, shot up faster, hit double-digit growth when India was still hovering around 5%, and with compound growth, has put itself in a totally different league from India, continuing to grow faster from a larger base. And it’s also that the two countries’ systems are totally dissimilar. If China wants to build a new six-lane expressway, it can bulldoze its way past any number of villages in its path; in India, if you want to widen a two-lane road, you could be tied up in court for a dozen years over compensation entitlements. That is how it should be; India is a fractious democracy, China is not. But as an Indian, I do not wish to pretend that India can be spoken of in the same global terms as China.

In addition, the bitter border dispute between the two countries remains unresolved, with periodic reports of incursions by Chinese troops onto Indian soil and new irritants over the anti-Chinese protests of Tibetan exiles who have been given asylum in India. To speak of a “trust deficit” between the two countries is arguably an understatement.

Some analysts have imagined the emergence of an “emerging countries cohort” led by China, Russia and India, with South Africa and Brazil in tow, which promotes a different, non-Western approach to global geopolitics. To dispel any such notion, one only has to look at the differences amongst these countries over the most obvious symbol of the emergence of the new South – the question of the expansion of the United Nations Security Council to accommodate new permanent members from the leading emerging powers. Russia is officially pledged to support such expansion, but it is a matter for debate how enthusiastic Moscow really is. Its permanent seat on the Council was the one asset that, even during the shambolic years of the 1990s, allowed Russia to “punch above its weight” in international affairs. Few Russians really want to see that position of privilege diluted by having to be shared with several new countries. China is even more sceptical. Beijing shares Moscow’s reluctance to see its stature diminished, but this is all the more true since it now sees itself, quite justifiably, as having no peer in the world other than the United States, whose economy it is on course to overtake by mid-century. Allowing countries like India to share the same status will, in Beijing’s eyes, merely diminish its own standing on the world stage.

So the divisions amongst the emerging countries will greatly outweigh their common interests, and fears of a new Cold War are unfounded. Indeed, the North possesses a vital geopolitical key to co-opting the leading emerging countries, if it so wished. If Security Council reform drags on indefinitely and inconclusively, many countries could begin to look for an alternative. What if the G-8, which is not bound by any Charter and writes its own rules, decided one day to expand its membership to embrace, say, China, India, Brazil and South Africa? China aside, the other countries could well say, “well, we’re now on the high table at last – why not focus our energies on this body and ignore the one which refuses to seat us?” The result could be a UN dramatically diminished by the decision of some of its most important members to ignore or neglect it. And the loss will be that of the rest of the world, which at least today has a universal organization to hold it together under the rules of international law, which is vastly preferable to a directoire of self-appointed oligarchs that an expanded G-8 could become. On the other hand, it would confirm that the emerging countries merely wish to have a stake in the existing world order, not to challenge it.

In other words, there is no fundamental threat to the established global geopolitical system. The North will continue to profess internationally the precepts on which its own societies are based, but the rest of the world will see these as tempered by self-interest. The South will be alert to any attempt by the world’s former colonial powers to assert positions that undermine their hard-won and jealously-safeguarded sovereignty, but they are unlikely to grant unconditional allegiance to the only Southern superpower, or a revived Russia.

In the midst of all this, the very principles on which the world seems to be divided will continue to make headway amongst ordinary people across the world. The need to tolerate differences, and to bring the benefits of global trade to ordinary people everywhere, will continue to find adherents in both North and South. There will be no new global cold war, even if, as the guns of August in Georgia have demonstrated, we may have to be prepared for a number of small hot ones.
© Constructif
Imprimer Envoyer par mail Réagir à l'article