Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Forgone Asia Century?

A lot of experts believe that the coming century will be the Asia century with the rise to global superpower status of China, the continued rise of India, while  developing countries escalate further down the road of development. It is believed that with the Asian rise will come a Western decline. While I believe that Asia will play a more important role in this century, we should not believe that Asia's rise is a title wave that has already been predetermined to consume the world. Read any number of books on Asia and several of them will paint these doom and gloom scenarios of coming Western ruin and Asia's technological and military rise.

The best book I’ve read on Asia to date is Rivals by Bill Emmott that argues quite rationally that a rivalry between China, India, and Japan will shape the coming decades. What I really liked about the book was the fact that it didn't come across as alarmist and presented a calm, rational statement of the facts and challenges facing Asia.Reading Emmotts' book and others on the area led me to question: Is it really a foregone conclusion that the next century will belong to Asia?

 Every country Emmott outlines has big problems: China is trying to have a capitalist economy with an authoritarian government, Japan has an aging population and their recovery both economic and psychologically from the earthquake and nuclear disaster is uncertain, and India has just started to have  robust economic growth, but because their a democracy, will a change in who's governing force a change in policy, economic slowdown...etc.?

 Furthermore, if the United States economy can grind to a halt like 2008, who's to say that, some incident does not occur in China to derail their course of economic growth? Hard to imagine such a scenario, but life teaches that all things are possible.

So, is it likely that Asia will grow in importance during this century? Yes. Will this rise be the cake walk that some analysts make it out to be? No way.

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