This Brave New World | Anja Manuel

Summary of: This Brave New World: India, China, and the United States
By: Anja Manuel


Dive into the dynamics of ‘This Brave New World: India, China, and the United States’ which examines the shifting global power from the United States and Europe to China and India. Learn how America’s influence gives way to these emerging powers, impacting international relations, climate change, human rights, global trade, and nuclear policy. The book presents two alternative paths for US policymakers: a belligerent choice leading to a new Cold War with China and an alliance with India, or a cooperative path prioritizing collaboration to solve global problems and ensure increased peace and prosperity.

The Shift of Global Power

By 2030, China and India’s economy, population, and military budget will surpass that of North America and Europe combined, shifting the balance of global power. The US will remain influential, but China and India will wield more sway in issues such as climate change, global trade, and nuclear policy. Despite their differences, China and the US maintain a frenemy relationship, while India and the US enjoy a more easygoing one. China and India’s rivalry stems from their competition for fossil fuels and a dispute over the Himalayan border. Both nations have also founded the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to compete with the World Bank.

A Choice of Paths

In today’s world, US policymakers face a critical decision between two paths. One leads to a new Cold War-like scenario with China, while the other promotes greater cooperation with India. The former scenario would see China wielding its economic might to maintain control over resource-rich nations and assertive dominance over the South China Sea. In the latter outcome, trade flows between the nations would be equitable, the South China Sea conflicts would wind down, and military spending would be reduced. In order to achieve success, US policymakers must thoroughly understand the histories, political and economic systems of China and India to manage conflicts and build trust. The ultimate goal is increased peace and prosperity for all, but the path chosen will determine if the world moves toward greater collaboration or conflict.

Challenges of Poverty in India and China

Poverty and informal work are ubiquitous in India and China, but their manifestations differ. In India, caste divides exacerbate poverty, while in China, it is the rural-urban divide. In India’s informal economy, 93% of people work in rickshaw driving, toilet cleaning, or garbage picking, making it challenging to provide a social safety net. Subsidies are provided to the poor, but corruption hinders proper distribution. In contrast, China’s urban poor live in factory dorms with a wage but limited access to social services. The country’s persistent corruption also hampers economic growth. President Xi Jinping aims to address the rural-urban divide, which has led to creating millions of migrants with inadequate access to social services.

Rampant Bribery in China and India

Bribery is a common practice in China and India that functions as a hidden tax and undermines public services. In China, bribes are a part of guanxi, and the frustratingly slow approval process generally speeds up only when the applicant hires consultants. In India, government officials routinely demand kickbacks. Xi has made it a priority to stamp out corruption in China, but suspicions remain that the entire effort is a political exercise. In India, a strong grassroots movement is calling for an end to corruption, but the ruling class has yet to embrace such efforts fully. The government’s losses due to corruption are immense, as demonstrated by the loss of $39 billion in broadband licenses and $34 billion in revenue due to a no-bid deal for coal-mining rights.

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