Dazzled by Asia

11 Feb

Joshua Kurlantzick’s article written for The Boston Globe and highlighted on The Council on Foreign Relations’ website takes a look at China alone and critiques Asia as a whole. Kurlantzick lays out a fresh perspective on Asia’s uprising and America’s decline, and the steps needed for both.

One of my favorite excerpts from his article provides the reader with a macro look at some shortcomings of Asia as a whole in comparison to America and other western nations: “Asia is indeed increasing its economic footprint in the world, but it still lags far behind the United States in military might, political and diplomatic influence, and even most measures of economic stability. Asia’s growth, the source of its current strength, also has significant limits – rising inequality, disastrous demographics, and growing unrest that could scupper development. Nationalism in Asia will prevent the region from developing into a European Union-like unified area for the foreseeable future, allowing regional conflicts to continue, and preventing Asia from speaking, more powerfully, with a unified voice.”

In regards to the relationship between the United States and Asia (mostly China), here are a few things to consider: According to a study by the China Policy Institute of the University of Nottingham, next year, China will become the world’s second-largest economy. China alone holds some $800 billion in American treasury securities. China and India likely will grow by more than 7 percent this year, compared to minimal growth in the West, and other leading Asian nations, like Indonesia and Vietnam, are also predicted to post high growth rates in 2010. By 2040 China will have at least 400 million elderly, most of whom will have no retirement pensions. This aging poses a severe challenge, since China may not have enough working-age people to support its elderly. In other words, China will grow old before it grows rich, a disastrous combination. China alone already faces some 90,000 annual “mass incidents,” the name given by Chinese security forces to protests, and this number is likely to grow as income inequality soars and environmental problems add more stresses to society. To become a global superpower requires economic, political, and military might, and on the last two counts, the United States remains leagues ahead of any Asian rival. According to the most comprehensive global ranking of universities, American schools, powered by immigrants and flush with cash, dominate the top 100, with Harvard ranked first. Asia has no schools in the top 10.

Read the entire article here: http://www.cfr.org/publication/21384/dazzled_by_asia.html

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