Day By Day

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is This the Asian Century -- Probably Not!

Minxin Pei has a nice piece in Foreign Policy challenging the common assumption that Asia will dominate the coming century. Points of note:

Despite recent rapid growth, Asian economies still lag far behind that of the United States. Even China will not catch up to the US for half a century, and that is assuming that everything goes right for them, and an awful lot can go wrong.

Asia is not a unitary entity. Asian nations are competitors and often that competition has broken out into war.

Asian nations face huge demographic problems, much worse than in the West.

Asia lacks a lot of natural resources, the most important being potable water. Its agriculture is also vulnerable to climate change and it lacks adequate energy resources.

Asia's export-driven economies are vulnerable to shifts in the world market.

The potential for political instability in Korea, China, and Pakistan is very high.

To a large extent the impressive growth of Asian economies is due to the fact that they are starting at a much lower level.

Western universities are still much superior to the best in Asia, and that is not likely to change anytime soon.

Western, and especially US, science and technology still outpace Asia's by a large amount.

China will be the strongest nation in Asia, but is unlikely to dominate the region -- there are too many formidable rivals.

America is not losing influence in Asia. It still is the guarantor of regional peace and enjoys wide support as such among the continent's elites.

Competition from rising Asian economies will spawn necessary reforms in the West.


Read the whole thing here.