Global Influence

Global influence in geography, economics, and social sciences are the beliefs, attitudes, and ideas promoted by a group, region, or country.

Global Influence Global Influence

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Table of contents

    We will focus on the global influence exerted by the world's superpowers. In this context, global influence refers to the different types of soft power. Global influence is vital in forging and changing alliances between different countries to bring about changes in power.

    • Soft power can occur as cultural, moral, political, and economic influence.

    The United States uses many methods to maintain its hegemonic power and is expected to take a leadership role. For example, if the West wants more protection against terrorism, then the world must be influenced by the need for American political influence on their governments. Tensions are rising between many emerging, influential countries. The world is moving from a unipolar world (the United States holds the hegemony) to a bipolar or even multipolar world. China's backing of Pakistan and the United States' of India as nuclear opponents is a good example.

    Businesses like transnational corporations (TNCs) act similarly. Global brands aim to earn more profits from consumers preferring their products over their competitors. Among the methods used by international companies include glocalisation.

    Glocalisation is the process of adapting a foreign product to local tastes so that locals are more likely to try and adopt the product.

    Japan as an example of global influence

    Consider that Japan ranks second in the world in the Soft Power Index (2021), yet has had a fragile economic system since the post-war bubble burst.¹ How has Japan maintained its influence on the international community?

    Japan – a significant aid donor and a global source of capital and credit

    • Japan's desire to atone for its actions in World War 2 influences its relations.²

    • The great success of the automobile and consumer electronics industries has swelled the government's piggy bank. Economic reforms pushed by the American capitalist agenda caused the country to make more direct investments abroad, i.e., become a creditor nation and acquire overseas real estate, including extensive manufacturing facilities. As a result, Japan became more directly involved in globalised world affairs.

    Japan transformed into a high-tech and industrialised urban society

    Well-paying jobs in industry pulled people into the cities. The cosmopolitan appeal fostered by globalisation encouraged international travel for leisure. Consequently, foreigners felt more at home because of the strong presence of American cultural symbols. There are also increasingly similar cultural traits. Women make up a large part of the labour force and are expected to work hard until they assume the position of homemaker, such as American housewives.³ Increasing numbers of international students and workers choose to reside in megacities.

    Meanwhile, internationalism in Japan has strengthened Japanese nationalism, so the government attaches great importance to protecting national identity. Consequently, it creates culturally recognisable branding that benefits its public perception and the Soft Power Index ranking.

    Japan blends influences from the West and the East

    • Japan's geographic location in the East has favoured its recent efforts to expand trade and cultural contacts. China was Japan's second-largest trading partner in the early 1990s when the country was well on its way to becoming the world's labour house. As a result, mutual growth occurred.

    • Japan's defeat in World War 2 prompted the United States to lead the country into communist regimes before its social and economic collapse, much like other countries during the Cold War. The long-lasting relations has evened out over time.

    • The country is willing to try new diplomatic approaches, such as holding the first-ever joint sporting event in Asia with South Korea (2002 Association Football World Cup Finals), stemming from a problematic relationship over historical battles.

    global influence, Japan global influence, StudySmarterJapan has a strong global influence

    How does the United States lead on actions for global issues?

    Global collaboration is needed to combat the pressing problems of climate change, conflict, and crisis management. As the hegemon, the United States will need to lead the platform for international decision-making.

    Climate change moderator

    • Superpowers are significant emitters of greenhouse gases and can contribute if they commit to change.
    • Former U.S. President Donald Trump came under fire when he decided not to take action under the pressure of global climate change and withdrew from the 2015 Paris Agreement to cut emissions.
    • Russia and China, also major carbon emitters, supported the 2015 Paris Agreement.

    Alleviating humanitarian crises

    • Developing countries lack the resources to respond and rebuild after natural disasters.
    • Superpowers and emerging powers offer a variety of aid to these countries, either through the action of intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) or superpower funded nongovernmental organisations (NGOs).
    • Between 2010 and 2011, $3.6 billion of committed global funding was provided to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, including $1.2 billion from the United States, $33 million from the United Kingdom, $36 million from France and $130,000 from Vietnam. (4)
    • There are differing opinions on how valuable the aid has been. USAID built houses for $33,000, five times more than the houses built by Mission of Hope, a local NGO.
    • However, direct funding from the United States government to the Haitian Department of Health has led to the construction of 164 new clinics, where they immunised 72,000 children against various diseases in 2017.

    Global police to regulate conflict

    • Tensions in the Afghanistan region have led to a 40-year war resulting from the United States and the United Kingdom's decision to intervene.
    • The 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks led to a global 'war on terror' as former U.S. President George W. Bush declared. As a result, all airports upregulated their security measures.
    • Some people believe the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) failed to protect Bosniak Muslims during the Bosnian War, which led to the death of 6,800 people in the Srebrenica massacre.
    • Some people were equally shocked by the alleged denial of human rights to the Rohingya Muslims in China and the lack of action from the United Nations.

    What are the recent tensions between the United States and other powers?

    Recent tensions between the United States and other powers arise from expanding spheres of global influence and the struggle over contested future resources.

    Tensions have arisen from acquiring physical resources, such as the possession of Arctic oil and gas. The Arctic Council and the designation of exclusive economic zones aim to reduce tensions, but military exercises still take place in the region to demonstrate power status. This links closely to the divergent views on global action to combat climate change. Newer, large carbon emitters like China and Russia have taken the lead by accepting the 2015 Paris Agreement. Their goal was to ensure the protection of their borders and reduce the exploitation of future potential fuel sources. China has used carbon offset tokens as part of a partnership with lower-emitting African countries, suggesting that they are not reducing their emissions in absolute terms at all. The many possibilities for conflict locations suggest a rising economic cost to maintain military control.

    The cost of military power includes physical armies and weapons for land, naval, nuclear, air forces, and intelligence services. As technology develops, nations will have to consider a space fleet.

    There are also growing tensions over physical territories such as the South and East China Seas, which have led to open conflict, such as Western Russia versus Eastern Europe. A dispute over control of cyberspace and intellectual property is brewing due to the increased level of cross-country governmental cyber hacking activities, such as the recent confrontation for counterfeiting between Huawei (China) and Apple (USA).

    Future growth in middle-class consumption puts immense pressure on critical resources such as oil, which were already contested for the existing superpowers and led to 40 years of tensions in the Middle East.

    What are the problems that may shift the future pattern of global influence and power?

    Like many developed nations, superpowers face considerable internal challenges that will affect their ability to exercise power in the future. Among the most significant problems is population decline, resulting in a smaller workforce and a greater burden of caring for the elderly. Due to rapid de-industrialisation, the lack of jobs fails to satisfy the upskilling of a nation.

    The decline of a functioning workforce poses a growing debt problem that a slower growth rate cannot sustain. Moreover, addressing the recently created tensions between powers requires new technologies that further deplete limited economic resources. Consequently, there is a need for rigorous ongoing economic restructuring, which could challenge their authority.

    Meanwhile, China's rapid growth is becoming a likely threat to growing competition. China exerts increasing soft power influences on Africa to secure natural resources and interest income from African debt. Some suggest that we could see a shift from a hegemon to a bipolar world dominated by the United States and China. But we are still a long way from that. China's territorial growth has created tensions with neighbouring countries. China's demographic development has been worse than that of the United States.

    • In summary, the future global balance of power between 2030 and 2050 is uncertain with a range of outcomes:
      • Continued U.S. dominance.

      • U.S. and China lead a bipolar world.

      • Regional powers maintain multipolar structures.

    Global Influence Unipolar world StudySmarter

    Unipolar world, Geralt, pixabay

    Global Influence - Key takeaways

    • The United States is currently the world's only hegemon (the most dominant superpower) and has the greatest global influence.
    • As a global reader, the U.S. must lead international decision-making on climate change, humanitarian crises, and global policing.
    • Despite a declining economy, Japan still has strong global influence due to its geographical location, political alliances, and economic and tourism projects.
    • Recent tensions, including the struggle over physical resources, territory, climate change, natural resources, and cyberspace, point to numerous challenges for the United States to maintain its hegemony.
    • Internal problems of the United States, such as economic restructuring, present a weakness that could potentially shift the future balance of power.

    ¹Brand Finance, Global Soft Power, Brand Directory, 17th November 2021

    ²BBC, Japan Country Profile, BBC News, 1st December 2021

    ³Fred Notehelfer, Japan - Political Developments, Britannia, 20th December 2021

    (4) Guardian Data Blog, Haiti Earthquake Aid Pledged by Country: Full Data, Data Blog, 20th December 2021

    Frequently Asked Questions about Global Influence

    What is global influence?

    Global influence in geography, business and social sciences are the beliefs, attitudes and ideas promoted by a group, region, or country.

    How does Japan influence the world?

    • Japan is a significant aid donor and a global capital and credit source.
    • Japan transformed into a high-tech and industrialised urban society and has now a big expat and tourist community.
    • Japan merges influence from the West and the East.

    How do global brands influence local cultures?

    The most popular approach is glocalisation, i.e., adapting a foreign product to local tastes so that locals are more likely to try and adopt the product.

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