Who roams in the flat world?

Cheming Yang

In 2005, Thomas L. Friedman, a New York Times columnist, released his best seller “The World Is Flat”. This book displays very keen observation with respect to globalization. What Friedman means by “flat” is “connected”: the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution have made it possible to do business instantaneously with billions of other people across the world.

In 2007, Friedman published a similar book entitled “The World Is Flat 3.0.” Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world. He pointed out especially in India and China individuals can compete and win not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the high end research and design work as well.

For those who can stride the world either physically or digitally, we can call them globalizers for argument’s sake regardless of whether they are corporates or individuals. Globalizers are not new to this world. Christopher Columbus, who discovered America, is a globalizer of some sort. If we push further back, Genghis Khan of the Mongol Empire is also a globalizer, admirable but also fearsome.

The only difference between today and say a couple of hundred years ago is the ease of transcontinental travel and the establishment of a digital presence. As a result, we got more globalizers then ever before. In the past, globalizers were viewed negatively to a certain degree. They tend to represent imperialism and colonialism. Due to the history of colonization, globalizers were in the eyes of many oppressors and poachers. Time certainly has changed and the era of imperialism is long gone. However, it does not necessarily mean that the negative implications of globalization and the fear for globalization have disappeared completely. That is exactly why the concept of Responsible Corporate Global Citizens is especially important at this time and age.

Although individuals can easily be globalizers nowadays, the most powerful globalizers are certainly multi-national corporates. Armed with money, they can wreak havoc not less than the harm armies can inflict by their guns. When Chinese corporates have grown to the size of being able to branch out and reach out all over the world, we need to pay special attention to behave like a good global citizen who has the interests of all concerned in mind. One for all and all for one. Only in this way, the globalization of Chinese is always welcome and sustainable.

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