One of the best things about working at GMF is that you get to be a fly on the wall while some of the world’s smartest people tell each other the most interesting things they know. My favorite wall to be on is at Stockholm China Forum, the 17th of which is taking place next week on October 6–7. For the first time, the organizers have agreed to let me live-blog some of the most insightful tidbits on Medium. I literally can’t wait to get started, so here’s a preview of the discussions I’m most looking forward to:
(1) Who is going to set the rules of the global economy, and what will they be?
Together, the economies represented at SCF (China, the U.S. and the EU) make up about half of the global economy. They, and particularly China, have very different ideas about what the ground rules of the global economy should be. Over the last few years, the three sides have essentially been in a competition to create an architecture that can enforce their economic vision, with Asia as the battleground. While the U.S. has been negotiating the controversial Transpacific Partnership (TPP), the EU has been trying to get ahead of that agreement through a series of bilateral negotiations, and China has been attempting to move forward on a bunch of alternative regional arrangements. In the meantime, the U.S. and Europe have been alternately fighting and cooperating when it comes to their own relationship as arbiters in the global economy. Is this mayhem set to continue? Do any of the economies have their domestic politics sufficiently together to make progress on ambitious master plans? Or should we all go back to the drawing board?
(2) Is “cyber” necessarily a competitive space between the U.S., Europe and China? And are the U.S. and Europe so far apart that they can’t work together in shaping global policy?
After lengthy negotiations between the U.S. and China, economic espionage is down. But questions about Internet freedom, governance, cyber warfare, and encryption abound. Increasingly, politicians from Thailand to Brazil are taking a leaf out of China’s book when it comes to state control over the Internet. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Europe are in the midst of their own battles about privacy, data transfers, and tax, among other issues, limiting their capacity to exercise leadership on the global stage.
Unfortunately Mr. Trump’s ten year old son can’t make it, so SCF will have to rely on the people who have written the books and been at the table to explain how the rules and norms that will govern the internet are evolving.
(3) Can China be a partner in addressing some of the world’s worst crises?
The world is beset by unimaginably tragic crises, and there are others brewing on the horizon. Between them, China, the U.S., and Europe have the economic, political, and strategic capacity to help. Historically, however, they have disagreed about what effective solutions look like, whose responsibility it is to implement them, and what those solutions mean for the long term sustainability of the global order. As Syrians die by the thousands, refugees migrate by the millions, and North Korea threatens to either implode or explode, what scope is there for the world’s three biggest powers to work together to save lives and maintain stability?
(4) What’s going on in Chinese politics?
If the U.S. political scene in 2016 is a reality TV show then the Chinese political scene is an HBO drama. Next year, Beijing will play host to the 19th Party Congress, which will decide China’s leadership over the next five years. Sitting President and Party Secretary, Xi Jinping, will almost certainly continue to rule Westeros — sorry, China — but the majority of the Standing Committee is expected to retire. Who takes over those seats will tell us more about Xi’s long-term political agenda, as he looks to consolidate his position as China’s strongest leader since Deng Xiaoping, as well as giving some clues about where China is headed in terms of its domestic economics, its attitude to foreign companies, approaches to human rights and freedom of speech, and how it sees its future on the global stage
The sessions will be held under the Chatham House Rule, think-tank speak for “I can’t tell you who said this but [juicy intel here]”. Check back on October 6th and 7th for more. You can take part in the discussions on Twitter using #SCF17 or by commenting below.
If you think others might be interested in following the discussions, please take a second to click recommend.