Balance and respect

The balance of power in the world is changing. While Canada’s economy weathered the global recession well, the United States and Europe suffered dramatic economic difficulties and are still mired in near recession conditions.

Economic growth is now mainly seen in the east and in parts of the developed world. And in a remarkable shift, China is projected to become the world’s largest economy, perhaps as soon as 2016. While economic predictions are imperfect and subject to change, it is very likely that for the first time in most of our lifetimes the United States will not be the world’s largest economy.

While a changing balance of power in the world can be concerning, it is important for that concern to be expressed in constructive ways.

History is full of examples of people reacting to a changing balance of power in fearful and sometimes prejudicial ways. While it is understandable that seeing new countries rise to prominence is a jarring experience for some, it is not helpful for that concern to turn into fear, anger, and paranoia.

I mention this because, from people I have talked with on campus, it seems that there is concern among some Chinese Canadian students and international students from China that the concern some feel regarding China’s growing role in the world is getting out of hand.

I think we all have to take steps to ensure that everyone is treated with respect. So, what is the best way to get to a more balanced understanding, an understanding based on rational and reasoned analysis? To start with, it is important for students from many different backgrounds to take the time to talk with eachother. That will ensure that opinions are based on facts, not fear.

This is essential; one of our strengths as a country is that we don’t allow fear or uncertainty to turn into hate and division. This is why we have become the world’s most welcoming nation. It is important to hold onto that, and to remember that Chinese Canadians contribute tremendously to our country and help make Canada stronger. This is far more important than any changes in the global economy or international politics.

As the balance of power in the world shifts, we must stay true to our values as Canadians.

It is important to note that the changing balance of power can have positive effects. China’s dynamic and growing middle class presents enormous opportunities for Canada. More trade and growth can mean more jobs across a wide range of sectors. The growth of China’s middle class means there will be greater and greater demand for energy – something Canada is uniquely prepared to provide. China contributes immensely to the world economy, and these contributions will continue to grow over time. Collaboration and mutual prosperity are the goals we must strive for.

Indeed, there is no greater time than now to seize the opportunities of trade, collaboration, and investment.

Going forward—by strengthening the ties that help bring Canada and China closer together, and cultivating an attitude of respect towards eachother, we will create a future of shared peace and prosperity.

Spencer Fernando is the Comment Editor for the Manitoban.