FORMER British Prime Minister Tony Blair (pictured) says the western world’s ability to change will be tested with a new economic paradigm and the emergence of China as a superpower.
Addressing an audience of Brisbane’s business and political elite last night, Blair says power is quickly shifting to the East and there is ‘a crisis of confidence in the West’.
He highlights the 20th century world is dramatically changing and an ‘open-minded’ political approach is integral for a nation’s welfare.
“Right at this moment, when we need to have the confidence to change and to be prepared to take on these new challenges, there’s a crisis of confidence in the West,” says Blair.
“There is a crisis because our confidence in markets has been dented due to the financial crisis; there is insecurity because of the long and difficult campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and a lack of confidence in our power.
“We have to face the fact that there are new powers, particularly in China, that are emerging. We have to change and adapt whether we’re countries, corporations or even individuals.”
Blair, who spent a decade as British PM until 2007, says the Global Financial Crisis ‘accelerated the need for change’, but didn’t create change.
“This is a paradigm shift in the way we look at the state and government that is going on the world over and it’s not going to stop, it’s going to continue,” he says.
“I think the countries that will succeed with change and the continuance of globalisation are those with the confidence to be open-minded. Open minded in their economy, their society and with the way the view the world.
“The reason our countries have succeeded is that we’ve been founded on a concept of freedom and an open mind, but the world around us is changing rapidly.”
In the face of uncertainty, Blair says people want a state that is strategic and empowering.
“In my experience, there is a certain rhythm to changing an organisation. When you first propose a change, everyone tells you it’s a disaster, when you’re doing it, it’s absolute hell and after you’ve done it, you wish you’d done more of it,” he says.
“The key to this process is educating our citizens to the highest standards possible and if we don’t do this, I think we will find it difficult to compete in the world that’s developing around us.
“We’ve succeeded so far by being creative and innovative, by using our ingenuity, our human capital and it’s the way we’ll succeed also in the 21st century.”
Blair also expects China’s success as an emerging superpower depends its ability to ‘open up’.
“Yes China is an emerging power, but if it succeeds, it will succeed as much by emulating us as it will be distinguishing itself from us,” he says.
“And if you look at why it succeeded over the past 30 years, it succeeded because it started to open up and for China to succeed in future, they will have to open up even more.”
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