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A New World Order

Centers of growth and power in the world have changed and shifted throughout the centuries. Rich and powerful empires have come and gone. Where do you think the world’s power centers will be in 20 or 50 years time?

Bank of China, Hong Kong

Make sure you understand these words before you read the text. Use the dictionary in the link collection to look up new words:

  1. affected
  2. benefits
  3. constitutes
  4. cooperation
  5. distributed
  6. emerge
  7. establishing
  8. estimated
  9. financing
  10. infrastructure
  11. investments
  12. investor
  13. involves
  14. major
  15. shift
  16. process
  17. purchasing
  18. region
  19. research
  20. resources
  21. shifting

Changing Power Centers

A New World Order

Chinese flag with Pudong skyline, Shanghai in background

Chinese flag with Pudong skyline, Shanghai in background

There is a major shift in the balance of power in the world. While the industrialized countries such as the United States and Europe are suffering from the recent financial crisis, countries in other parts of the world which were not as affected are gaining economic power.

The United States faces a national debt of over $14 trillion and the problems it involves in financing it. China, has about $3 trillion in capital reserves which it is using to buy up what it needs in terms of infrastructure and natural resources. It is estimated that by 2030 China will be the #1 economic power in the world. They are in the process of establishing relations around the world through their purchasing power and their investments. An example is Brazil, where China has replaced the United States as the leading investor.

Many people are concerned about this as China often plays by different rules than those which govern western companies. China is not concerned about human rights and the question of corruption to the same degree. China has also shown an arrogance in international forums by blocking agreements which they oppose, such as environmental treaties which limit the use of coal, their main source of energy.

Another sign of change is the economic growth in both African and Latin American countries. All this means that we are rapidly emerging into a multi-polar world where both economic and political power is being shared. The United States is losing its role as the only major super power. The question is, what will emerge as the new order? Will the power be evenly spread or will one region, such as Asia, or more specifically China, take over?

Economic Changes

The world is going through the greatest economic changes since the Industrial Revolution ( The Industrial Revolution) A combination of technological developments such as the Internet and advancements in other forms of communication has brought countries closer together allowing cooperation across borders unheard of twenty years ago.

Outsourcing India

Outsourcing India

A good example is outsourcing. Products can be produced much quicker due to employees in many different countries cooperating 24/7 toward a final goal. While employees in one country are sleeping, employees in other countries, working on the same product, are at the office. The result is communicated to the main office thus reducing production time. In addition, costs are reduced by outsourcing production to low cost countries. This is good news for the owners, but bad news for the production employees in industrialized countries. (A Pew Research Center study showed that 25% of all jobs in the United States could be outsourced.) Many of the jobs which are outsourced are entry level office jobs or manufacturing jobs. This constitutes a problem for those who lose their jobs but do not have advanced degrees to qualify for the new jobs in the high-tech fields.

The Future

One thing is for certain, the balance of power is shifting from North America and Europe to the rest of the world. Thus, we are becoming a multi-polar world. The question is what will emerge as the new world order and how evenly will world power and economic benefits be distributed.

Tasks and Activities

Explain in English

  • a multi-polar world
  • the national debt
  • purchasing infrastructure and natural resources
  • a major shift in the balance of power
  • capital reserves
  • plays by different rules
Suggested solution
  • several different centers of, for example, power
  • money that the country owes to some other country/countries
  • buying into the services, facilities, mineral wealth, energy resources, etc. in a country
  • a big change in how the power in the world is shared
  • money which is available for use
  • does something in a different way to that which you are used to; a way which you consider negative

Vocabulary Task

Write a paragraph about economy which includes at least 5 of the words in the vocabulary list in the introduction.


This is a quotation from a Pew Research Center Survey Jan 9, 2007, A Portrait of “Generation Next” How Young People View Their Lives, Futures and Politics.

"They are more comfortable with globalization and new ways of doing work. They are the most likely of any age group to say that automation, the outsourcing of jobs, and the growing number of immigrants have helped and not hurt American workers."

Why do you think young people who have a whole working life ahead of them are more positive to outsourcing and other changes in working life?

Find Out

  1. Watch the movie trailer Outsourced - movie trailer
    • What is the plot of the movie?
    • Where does the main character come from?
    • What does he think of India at the start?
    • What are some of the problems he encounters?
    • What advice is he given? Is it good advice?
Sist faglig oppdatert 14.11.2018
Skrevet av Anne Scott Hagen og Drew Rodgers


Global Challenges


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