OUR GLOBAL VILL AGE:
Prospects for Globalization and National Borders
Q I N G G U O J I A , ASSOCIATE DEAN & PROFESSOR OF THE SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, PEKING UNIVERSIT Y
A S T H E W O R L D B E G I N S A N E W C E N T U R Y, some aspects of international politics are experiencing rapid changes amidst other more rigid aspects which refuse change. Two concepts may best capture the nature and scope of this simultaneous static yet fluid state: namely, globalization and national borders. Globalization is currently a fashionable topic—some laud it, claiming that it is the path to peace, prosperity and progress. Others abhor it, attributing to it many evils in world affairs including polarization, environmental destruction, cultural degradation, and so forth. The showdown surrounding the WTO gathering in Seattle last November highlights the intensity of the conflict. In contrast to globalization, the concept of national borders gets less and less attention. Technological progress, especially the Internet, has brought people closer together. International and domestic concerns are becoming increasingly intertwined. Under these circumstances, national borders have lost their previous significance and national sovereignty is becoming both anachronistic and a less valid excuse for idiosyncratic rule within national borders. Such a view is premised upon the assumption that we are indeed in an age of comprehensive globalization. Close examination of the assumption, however, reveals that it is a very misleading one. The truth is, the current incarnation is at most a partial and uneven globalization; national borders are as relevant as they have ever been since their formation. Unless we fully appreciate this, our understanding of international politics will remain inadequate.
A TREND OF THE TIMES Proponents of globalization argue that increasing technological innovations in communication and transportation have brought the world closer together