Skip to main content

4.1 Will the 21st Century be Asian?

1. Does Asia's economic rise pose a challenge to the West?

  • Many argue that Asia's economic rise is unstoppable. Specifically, such voices highlight the fact that, over the past twenty years, the economy of China has seen great advances compared to a stagnating European and U.S. economy in the west. In the future, they argue, Western countries will no longer be able to run major international institutions without Asian involvement.
  • On the other hand, some have argued that Asia's rising economy is by and large dependent on its adoption of the Western economic model. Claiming that there is no such Asian model, these voices maintain that the West remains the dominant leader in the global market economy. This is underlined through Western dominance in world foreign direct investment (75%) and Western dominance in global GDP (50%).

2. What unites Asia and what divides Asia?

  • The perceived failures in foreign policy conducted by the West, particularly in the Middle East, over the past decades has come to be seen as a uniting force among Asian nations. This crippling of the West is also seen in the economic crisis of 2008, which has emerged as an opportunity for Asian countries to push for more power in the global economy.
  • On the other hand, many claim that Asian countries remain so culturally discrepant that divisions of such do not allow for a strong united Asian power structure that could counter that of the Western states.

3. Is the United States an Asian power?

  • Some have argued that the significant role of the U.S in the rise of the Asian (particularly the Chinese) economy makes the United States more partner than enemy to the Asian powerhouse.
  • However, it is important to remember that many of the political and economic advances of Asia over the past decades remain largely indebted to the regions' own powers. Thus, such institutions as ASEAN – today including Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar and Laos – remain important drivers in the establishing of a collective Asian identity, (security) politics, and thus economy.