Since young, we have been taught to study history as our parents and teachers always say that there are precious lessons encrypted in history. Just like how Irish Statesman Edmund Burke puts it, “those who don’t know history are destined to repeat.” While it is true that history is valuable and packed with lessons that each child should understand, it is certain that the world has changed. The biggest shift and change would definitely be how power is now measured differently.
In the 21st century, power means something drastically different from what it was before – even just decades ago. Before, territory, military power and physical borders meant complete control over the world but now, these factors are of lesser importance than connectivity and resourcefulness. A country’s trade partnerships, infrastructure and resources are now the measurables of power in today’s world.
Take China for example. While China has a smaller military power compared to the United States, the Asia country is the number one trade partner of twice as many countries. It is very likely that in the next 100 years, China could be the next or even the top global superpower who possesses the most power across the globe.
Today, it is not about who rules what territory or how big is the territory. It is about who rules the supply chain of the world. “The most powerful players in the system are not necessarily those with the largest militaries, most nuclear weapons, or largest population,” said Parag Khanna, a senior researcher in Globalization at the National University of Singapore and Center on Asia.
“It’s The Ones That Are The Most Connected” – Parag Khanna
In Khanna’s book, Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization, the researcher offers a diverse range of theories through connecting anecdotes, histories, politics and economic analysis. As if Khanna had used a multiple address map or a map maker when writing, his book is full of fascinating maps that discuss the new reality or also known as “postmodern geopolitics”. In short, it means that connectivity has replaced geographical location as the new definition of power.
In the maps displayed, transportation, energy and communication infrastructure had become the main factors that matter the most in terms of connectivity of a country. Furthermore, these factors also encourage the force of migration and trade which also strengthen the societies and its superpowers. Consider this. There are 1 million km of Internet cables, 64 million km of roads, 4 million km of railways and 2 million km of pipelines but there are only 500,000 km of international borders across the globe. Numbers don’t lie. It is clear that urbanization and connectivity is what turns the world today.
Today’s Developing Markets, Tomorrow’s Economic Superpower
Despite many global crises such as the COVID-19 outbreak or trade tiffs, the growth of the world economy does not seem to be stopping anytime soon. According to The World in 2050 report, it is predicted that six of the seven of the world’s largest economies will surpass the current global superpowers such as the US, Japan and Germany. All thanks to their growth in connectivity and resourcefulness, here are three countries that are emerging as the next economic superpower.
While China is already the largest economy of the world, economists predict that this is just the tip of the iceberg of what the Asian country is capable of. Rapid economic and infrastructure changes are not only giving a better quality of life to its residents but also attracting new entrepreneurs who are looking for good financial opportunities. China’s largest city, Shanghai, is a great example to look at. “Shanghai is an entrepreneurial and very commercially minded city,” says John Pabon, the American founder of Shanghai-based Fulcrum Strategic Advisors. He complimented how the city is always full of sound entrepreneurs who are not only hard working to make an impact in the country’ economy but are ‘always willing to listen and provide sound advice.’
Over the next three decades, massive growth of an average of 5% in GDP per year is predicted, making India one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. From the end of 20th century and beginning of the 21st century, the country had gone through a ‘major upgrade’ in its quality of technology such as televisions, mobile phones, car brands and many more over the past 15 years. Overtaking the United States, India is projected to be the world’s second-largest economy that accounts for 15% of the world’s total GDP.
Brazil – known as the South American powerhouse – is predicted to be the world’s fifth largest economy by the year 2050. Overtaking Russia, Germany and even Japan, its natural resources had helped the country to rapidly grow its economy in these past decades. Its high growth rate has also increased the growth rate of inflation – making Brazil a fintech pioneer. “PayPal and Venmo equivalents have been the daily routine in Brazil for 20-plus years, even before smartphones, via an ATM.” said Annalisa Nash Fernandez, intercultural strategist who had lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil.