Think Tank (1/2023)
(L-R) Professor Nick Bisley, Dr Li Mingjiang
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Reglobalisation and the Dynamics of Asia’s Security Order
21 Feb 2023
Kiera Chua

“Reglobalisation and the Dynamics of Asia’s Security Order” was the subject of an RSIS Seminar held at The KeyPoint, RSIS, on 21 February 2023. Professor Nick Bisley spoke at the seminar. He is the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University, Australia, Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, and President of the Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. Associate Professor Li Mingjiang, Provost’s Chair in International Relations, and Coordinator of the PhD Programme at RSIS, chaired the seminar.

The long Asian Peace, which lasted for forty years from the early 1980s until the late 2010s, saw an open and liberal approach to the global economy.  The consensus on this approach has collapsed due to the return of economic nationalism and Sino-American rivalry, resulting in a period of reconfiguration. Prof Bisley discussed three potential models of how globalisation may be reconstituted and their security concerns: deglobalisation, slowbalisation, and reglobalisation.

Firstly, deglobalisation would see an extreme breakdown of international economic integration. This would see the reappearance of Cold War–era trading blocs and the augmentation of tensions along existing fault lines. Prof Bisley opined that the prospects of large-scale conflict would be unlikely, but this scenario would completely rewrite the old philosophy of a stable security order.

Secondly, slowbalisation, a term that Prof Bisley attributed to The Economist, would see a return to the principles of economic globalisation but with an increased need to factor in political considerations, leading to inertia. This model would be characterised by a renationalisation of certain industries. Prof Bisley envisioned that slowbalisation would result in increased tension around existing flashpoints and the creation of new ones.

Finally, reglobalisation would see a significant reconfiguration of existing trade patterns and models based on political, rather than economic, logic. Prof Bisley expected to see a cycle of competition where politics would continuously shape economic decisions and vice versa, resulting in slower growth. US partners will be under pressure to be more active in regional security, locking them more tightly into the American system.

In his conclusion, Prof Bisley warned that the way we proceed with economic reconfiguration will determine the future security landscape. He said that it was crucial to rethink how international economic liberalism could be embedded into domestic social contracts, including changes to incentive structures in the economic system.

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