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A new bloc

The failure of the West and America’s led global world order to prevent war and conflict underscores the need for a new political bloc that may counter Western hegemony and rein in American exceptionalism. This new bloc should politically, economically and militarily be powerful enough to shape a new world order that may bring peace and prosperity to the world.

The new bloc may comprise Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Pakistan, Iran, the Central Asian States, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey, Cuba, Venezuela, Indonesia, Malaysia and Iraq. A number of other states may also join it. The question is: will such a bloc work? The answer is in the affirmative. The bloc has the two largest markets of the world – India and China. Militarily, it will have four nuclear states – Pakistan, India, China and Russia. And the Chinese army is the largest in the world while India, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey and Iran are also militarily powerful states. Some of the largest countries by territory are also part of this proposed new bloc. The states of this new bloc are also rich in natural resources.

One could argue that from an economic point of view, this bloc cannot work because the GPD of the West – the US and the EU – is far greater than this new bloc. The GDP of the US is $18562 billion, EU $16.31 trillion, Canada $1552.80 billion (in 2015), Australia $1339.54 billion (2015), Japan $4383.10 billion (in 2015) and Mexico 1143.79 billion (in 2015). This is far greater than the GDP of the new bloc.

The US does not only have the largest GDP in the world but it also has the largest number of gold reserves (8,133.5        tonnes). India has 557.7 tonnes, Russia 1,460.4 tonnes and China         1,797.5 tonnes. The savings-to-GDP ratio of the US and its allies is also greater than those of China and some other members of this proposed bloc. The combined savings-to-GDP ratio of China, Malaysia, Brazil, South Africa and India is 146.5 percent while that of the US, its Western allies and countries outside the proposed bloc is 272.3 percent.

But, on the other hand, the foreign reserves of China are $3.051 trillion (Nov 2016) while that of the US stood at       $115,675 million (Nov 2015). In addition to that, China’s economic growth has been quite impressive in the last few decades. It was only $59.716 billion in 1969, and rose to 11.008 trillion in 2015. GDP annual growth rate in China averaged 9.79 percent from 1989 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 15.40 percent in the first quarter of 1993 and a record low of 3.80 percent in the fourth quarter of 1990 while GDP annual growth rate in the US averaged 3.20 percent from 1948 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 13.40 percent in the fourth quarter of 1950 and a record low of 4.10 percent in the second quarter of 2009. GDP annual growth rate in the European Union averaged 1.70 percent from 1996 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 4.60 percent in the second quarter of 2000 and a record low of -5.40 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

Russia, Iran, China, Brazil, Venezuela and Iraq are among the top ten states with the largest number of natural resources. The total cost of such resources is $178 trillion while the total cost of the natural resources of the US, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Australia is $132.5 trillion. China leads the world in the production of rare earth metals that are crucial for laptops, mobile phones and a number of other devices. The total rare earth metals production of China, Russia and Malaysia is 107,000 tons while that of US and its allies, Australia and Thailand, is just 21,210 tons.

A number of strategic points are located in the proposed bloc. For instance, Central Asia connects Asia to Europe and the area is under the influence of Beijing and Moscow. The Strait of Hormuz with around 40 percent of the world’s oil shipping is at Iran’s disposal and Tehran is an ally of the bear and the dragon. The Strait of Malacca is the second important oil shipping point. It        is the shortest waterway connecting the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Although tension has been simmering between China and some states of the South China Sea, Beijing can use its economic strength as a leverage to tilt the situation in its favour.         The     Bosporus is another strategically important place. Located in Turkey, it connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and falls under the influence of Ankara which is hobnobbing with Moscow these days.

No bloc can work if it is not militarily strong. In the list of the ten top countries with the largest armies, the combined military personnel of China, India, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran come up to 6,310,609 while that of the US and South Korea and Egypt is just 2556719. The US and its allies have 7615 nuclear arms while some members of this bloc have 7810. The combined space technology of Russia, China and India could also pose a great challenge to the US and its Western allies.

It could be argued that this new proposed bloc comprises estranged allies. For instance, India and China have border disputes and can never be friends. But one could retort that if Western states can be friendly towards one another after fighting each other for centuries, then why can states in other parts of the world not do that too? Despite all the impression of hostility between New Delhi and Beijing, the trade volume between the two is on the rise. Both want economic growth. India cannot achieve that without access to the energy hub of Central Asia and cooperating with China. So, New Delhi will not only have to mend fences with Beijing, it will also have to normalise ties with Pakistan if it wishes to achieve economic growth.

Russia and China could not only help reduce tension between the two nuclear South Asian countries, they could also be instrumental in stabilising Afghanistan, which is a key route to the Central Asian States.

The writer is a Karachi-based freelance journalist. Email: egalitarianism444@gmail.com

Abdul Sattar, "A new bloc," The News. 2017-10-03.
Keywords: Economics , Economical issues , Economic growth , Economic point , Foreign reserves , Trade , Economy , China , India , Russia , GDP

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