What will 2019 be like?

Monday, 2019-02-04 08:33:28
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Leaders of APEC member economies pose for a photo together at the 2018 APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea. (Photo: VNA)
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NDO – The year 2018 has passed with so many strange stories, from wonderful inventions as in fiction novels to the fatal economic and trade “blows” and the nail-biting competition between the powers. Behind them are hidden the objective rules of the historical movement.

In Vietnam today, the phrase “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (Industry 4.0) has become a catchphrase everywhere and at anytime. Its marvelous achievements reflect the superior development of human intelligence, while signaling that the era of depending on abundant labour forces and natural resources is gradually coming to an end. Industry 4.0 has brought about significant benefits, with the areas of production modes and structure, labour, consumption, lifestyle, national governance methods, international relations and means of war having transformed remarkably. But everything has two sides. It is the source of so many implications, such as the risk of unemployment, weakened cohesion between people, including in the family, cybersecurity risks, and high-tech crimes, threatening the peace of every nation and individual.

In order to fully tap into the benefits brought about by Industry 4.0 and prevent its consequences, the decisive factor is still humans. People talk a lot about “civilised cities”, but how can they operate without “civilised people” across all three classes: the creators of digital technology, the operators of digital technology, and the ordinary people who know how to use digital technology (occupying a small proportion in Vietnam)? How to cope with the flow of false information on the Internet if each person does not know how to differentiate the right from the wrong? Thus, the story can not stop in the matter of accelerating industrialisation and modernisation in the classic sense, but needs a completely new approach.

Furthermore, in recent decades, global development has followed the trend of globalisation, liberalisation and economic integration. Suddenly within the past few years, especially in 2018, there emerged fierce manifestations of protectionism. It is worth mentioning that, such a phenomenon originated from the United States – the world’s largest economy – which inherently takes the lead in promoting the idea of ​​trade liberalisation under the “Washington Consensus” model. The implication is that the economic growth rate in general, and global trade in particular, have slowed down; the financial and monetary system and the stock market have fluctuated; the multilateral institutions, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO), have been challenged; the “rules of the game” have changed; the flow of goods, services and investment have turned to other directions. In that context, two trends – Liberalisation or protection? Multilateral or unilateral? – have become a hot topic on the international arena, now tense and then gentle as what happened at the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea and the G20 Summit in Argentina.

As a country with deep and extensive international economic integration and an “open economy”, it is certain that Vietnam will have to find new ways to adapt to the aforementioned situation.

The shuffles in the world are not restricted to the economic scope and have spread to all areas, including politics, security-defence, and science-technology. The comprehensive competition has been clearly revealed in the US’s relations with China and Russia, which, Washington said, “want to shape a world against the values and interests of the US”. The conflicts between the powers do not stop there, but are also manifested through the trouble between the US and its allies, such as the European Union (EU), Canada, and Japan. In response, a number of US allies have tried to maintain relations with Washington and sought ways to improve their ties with China and Russia. Under the influence of this competition, there have emerged strategic initiatives, such as “One Belt, One Road” and “Indo-Pacific” which have “rubbed” against each other.

Actually, this is not the first time such a situation has arisen. Over the past 2,000 years, the transition of countries’ power and regions’ positions under the influence of the uneven development rule, in which the “old powers” have weakened due to the waste of potential for untouchable ambitions and the “new powers” are seeking to take their places. Thycydides, a Greek historian about 1,400 years ago, had drawn out the rule: such a situation would certainly lead to war. Indeed in the past millennium, that curse has come true more than once, robbing the lives of millions of people and devastating numerous nations. Hopefully, in the future, as the interdependence among countries is very close, modern weapons can devastate the planet, and no country can be safe, that sad tragedy will not be repeated. Even without excluding the possibility that there will be a partial compromise at a certain point in the future, a temporary cessation of the war will be maintained in the long run.

As a constituent part of the world, Vietnam can not avoid disasters globally, so it is necessary to alertly observe and respond appropriately. Fortunately, Vietnam is located in a favourable position in terms of politics and economy, with a heroic history, appropriate foreign affairs strategies and policies, and different position and power after more than 30 years of renovation and integration. More than ever, the situation requires the nation to smoothly apply Uncle Ho’s teachings: “Our principles must be solid, but our strategies should be flexible”, and in action, “all the affairs should coordinate with each other, a component must be associated with the overall...Each affair should match with each place, each time and each situation”. The teachings need to be applied for not only the domestic affairs but also the foreign relations, which will help the country to overcome all difficulties