Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Future is Asian

Everyone tends to think they live in the centre of the world.  Western intellectuals see a world that revolves around their view, but Parag Khanna points out that Asia has been re-asserting itself for several years and now represents the future.  Asia is defined more widely than most of us concede.  According to Parag Khanna it extends from Turkey (includes much of Russia) through the Middle East (termed the Far West by Asians) and goes all the way to Australia and New Zealand (those two bastions of Western democracy).

Napoleon is supposed to have said about China, "let her sleep for when she wakes she will shake the world."  It is our turn to wake up to figure out how best to fit in a new world order.

Many western countries are counting on breaking into the Asian market not only to grow, but in some cases to survive.  They will have to adjust.  For instance McDonald's has done well, but a look at their menus will demonstrate they have emphasized local preferences.  

Asians now hold more than 55% of U.S. treasuries.  They have felt it was a safe place to keep excess money, but are already finding alternatives. 

Asian consumers, especially the younger generation are not as enamored of Western brands as their parents once were.  They are finding good value with Asian products.  At the same time Americans are buying more Asian goods and in many cases Asian manufacturers are setting up plants in North America.   It is no longer just cheap labour that gives Asians an edge, but professionalism.

There are actually 53 nations in Asia and they are beginning to communicate with one another. Although there is great diversity in Asia they are learning when they work together they are stronger.

Mobile banking is new, but Asians have adopted it quicker than Americans and Europeans partly because they have not been as entrenched in established banking practices.

Asians were attracted to Europe and North America for education and many of them used to find jobs in the host country.  That also is changing.  Not only are Asians finding quality education alternatives in Asia, but also the rest of the world is starting to enroll in Asian education institutions.  Another key trend is that Asian graduates are more inclined to go back home where they can make a difference.

What is Donald Trump doing after rejecting the TPP agreement?  Trying to be tough with China, Korea and Japan.  He has also been tough with his allies and Iran.  The reaction of most is to look for alternatives.  Asia has been building up a middle class as well as connections between them.  Asia has been reaching out to Europe, Africa and Latin America and a two way response is developing.

One book suggests United States and China are at risk of war.  

Another view that points to a Chinese strategy:  Two possible sources of future tension are when the Dalai Lama dies and China tries to impose a replacement and when China decides they can take stronger action on Taiwan.

Singapore is considered a model, not only for Asia, but also for the rest of the world.  One theme parallels what I learned from Plato's "Republic."  He envisioned an ideal society based on merit.  Children would be universally cared for, but at different ages would be tested to determine which ones were most suitable to be rulers, which ones would run businesses and the remainder would be workers.  In Singapore education is critical.  In order to be president one must have served as an education minister.  Instead of democracy they are described a technocracy, but enjoy many of the benefits of what we consider democracy.  There is a real effort to find out what the people really want.  Talent is rewarded, but wealth is spread around for everyone's benefit. Civil bureaucrats are well educated and rewarded.  Trust is developed between the rulers and the ruled.  There is little crime or corruption.  One of the first decisions made after winning independence was to make English the main language as there were already established 3 languages (Chinese, Tamil and Malay that were striving for dominance.  My father once declared the best government would be a benevolent dictatorship might have found Singapore the closest example.

Asian cultural influences are everywhere.  We eat their food.  Many of us enjoy Bollywood, K pop, yoga, martial arts, etc. and buy huge amounts of Asian products and technology.   Asians have influenced philosophy and encouraged mindfulness.  They have contributed to Western enjoyment of life and are being rewarded for doing so.

Immigration of Asians has been going on for over a century and there are significant diasporas from different ethnic groups and in many different countries that are leaving their mark.  The fastest growing language in the United States is Telegu.  Inter-marriage both within Asia and with outsiders is bringing a real influence (and hopefully better understanding).

There is much more significant detail and acknowledgment of problems.  The world is changing and we will all feel the Asian influence intruding our lifestyle.  It could be pleasant.

No time to read the book?   Need a little bit more incentive?   Check out a one hour talk focusing on the book:

No comments:

Post a Comment