China, Asia will rise, but not dominate the future

One of the more popular lines of thinking about the future is that Asia will dominate the world, this being a variant and accompaniment of the idea that China will dominate the world. Yet it’s become annoying for me to see this often repeated in the media, in books and by big business, since I’m a huge skeptic and strongly feel there’s a lot of hot air and wishful thinking behind those claims. It was good to see an article like this that says why Asia will not dominate this century. While it’s specifically about a debate at an Oxford alumni event in HK, the arguments made are sound and point to a very strong conclusion – Asia will rise, but it won’t dominate. Most arguments for why Asia or China will dominate center around numbers, as in quantity (size of national GDP, markets for products, growth etc), while not focusing on quality. Asia will rise, no doubt, as China and to a lesser extent India, Indonesia and others, will grow economically, become more wealthy and more influential in more fields. But at the same time, they’ll need to cope with and handle a whole host of problems such as large populations, socioeconomic inequality, deteriorating natural environments, and internal tensions. At the same time, in soft power and military alliances, technology, pop culture, China, and the rest of Asia, still lag the US considerably. Even Japan, as prosperous, innovative and dominant (in various sectors)  as it has become, has not come close to “dominating” the world. A far more telling argument is that in international ideas, innovations, inventions or campaigns to tackle issues such as the environment or nuclear proliferation, China has not contributed or taken on a leading role. Of course, noone knows what the future will bring but I think that it’s safe to believe that in the next few decades, Asia will still not dominate.


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