Asian Century: Wikis


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China and India have the two largest populations in the world, and are expected to grow rapidly economically. (see note)

The Asian Century is a term used to describe the belief that, if certain demographic and economic trends persist, the twenty-first century will be dominated by Asian politics and culture, as the twentieth century is often called the American Century, and the nineteenth century the British Century.



The phrase Asian Century arose in the mid to late 1980s, and is attributed to a 1988 meeting with People's Republic of China (PRC) leader Deng Xiaoping and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Prior to this, it made an appearance in a 1985 US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing.[1] It has been subsequently reaffirmed by Asian political leaders, and is now a popularly used term in the media.


Most of the speculation as to a future Asian century is based on population growth and economic growth forecasts, as well as the growth that has already occurred in much of Asia. While much emphasis is focused on the growing power of China, India, Korea, Japan and Indonesia, the term Asian Century generally refers to all growth in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Russia may also be considered a rising economy in Asia, but it is usually not being referred to in the use of this term.[2][3]



Population growth in Asia is expected to continue through at least the first half of the twenty-first century, though is has slowed significantly since the late twentieth century. At four billion people in the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Asian population is predicted to grow to more than five billion by 2050.[4] While its percent of the world population is not expected to greatly change, North American and European shares of the global population are expected to decline.[5]


One of the busiest shopping streets in the world, Nanjing Road in Shanghai is an example of economic growth in mainland China, and its large consumer base.
India's 300 million strong middle-class population is growing at an annual rate of 5%.[6] Shown here is a residential area in the Mumbai metropolitan area.

One major reason for the belief in a coming Asian Century is the remarkable economic growth in Asia, and the continuing growth rates. Since China's economic reforms in the late 1970s (in farm privatization) and early 1990s (in most cities), the Chinese economy has enjoyed three decades of economic growth rates between 8 and 10%.[7] The Indian economy began a similar albeit slower ascent at the end of 1980s and early 1990s, and has averaged around 4% during this period, though growing slightly over 8% in 2005, and hitting 9.2% in 2006 before slowing to 6% in 2009.[8]

Shujie Yao of Nottingham University explains that, "China will overtake the United States to become the world's largest economy by 2038 if current growth rates continue," and that China's nominal GDP will likely overtake that of Japan by 2009 or 2010.[9] Also Goldman Sachs report predicts that "from 2007 to 2020, India’s GDP per capita will quadruple," and that the Indian economy will surpass the United States by 2043, but India "will remain a low-income country for several decades, with per capita incomes well below its other BRIC peers. If India fulfills its growth potential, it can become a motor for the world economy, and a key contributor to generating spending growth".[10]

Both of these developments involved policy of a degree of managed liberalisation of the economy as well as a turning outwards of the economy towards globalization (both exports and attracting inward investment). The magnitude of this liberalisation and globalisation is still subject to debate. They were part of conscious decisions by key political leaders, especially in India and the PRC. Also, the populations of the two countries offer a potential market of over two and a quarter billion.[11] The development of the internal consumer market in these two countries has been a major basis for economic development. This has enabled much higher national growth rates for mainland China and India in comparison to Japan, the EU and even the US.[12] The international cost advantage on goods and services, based on cheaper labor costs, has enabled these two countries to exert a global competitive pressure.[13]

The trend for greater Asian economic dominance has also been based on the extrapolations of recent historic economic trends. Goldman Sachs, in its BRIC economic forecast, highlighted the trend towards mainland China becoming the largest and India the second largest economies by the year 2050 in terms of GDP. The report also predicted the type of industry that each nation would dominate, leading some to deem mainland China 'the industrial workshop of the world' and India 'one of the great service societies'.[14] As of 2009, majority of the countries that are considered newly industrialized are in Asia

By 2050, the East Asian and South Asian economies will have increased by over 20 times.[15] With that comes a rise in Human Development Index, the index used to measure the standards of living. India's HDI will approach .8. East Asia's would approach .94 or fairly close to the living standards of the western nations such as the EU and the US This would mean that it would be rather difficult to determine the difference in wealth of the two. Because of East Asian and Indian populations, their economy would be very large. In East Asia's case, would perhaps surpass the western nation's total economy.

Construction projects

It is projected that the most groundbreaking construction projects will take place in Asia within the approaching years. As a symbol of economic power, supertall skyscrapers have been erected in Asia, and more projects are currently being conceived and begun in Asia than in any other region of the world. Completed projects include: the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur, the Shanghai World Financial Center, International Finance Centre in Hong Kong, Taipei 101 in Taiwan. Future buildings promise to be taller, like the Shanghai Tower and the Pagcor Tower in the Philippines.


Culturally, the Asian century is symbolized by Hong Kong genre films, Japanese Animation and the Korean Wave. The awareness of the different Asian cultures may be a part of a much more culturally aware world, as proposed in the Clash of Civilizations thesis. Equally, the affirmation of Asian cultures has an impact on the identity politics of Asians in Asia and outside in the Asian diasporas.[16]

Though the use of English continues to spread, Asian languages are also becoming more popular to teach and study outside of the continent. The study of Chinese has recently gained greater attention in the United States, owing to a growing belief in the economic advantages of knowing it.[17] It is also being encouraged through PRC's support of Confucius Institutes, which have opened in numerous nations to teach the Chinese language and culture[18].


The cargo of a container ship from East Asia being unloaded at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Navi Mumbai, India. Increasing economic integration of Asian countries has also brought them closer politically.

The global political position of China and to a lesser extent India has risen in international bodies and amongst the world powers, leading the United States and European Union to become more active in the process of engagement with these two countries. China is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Although India is not a permanent member, it is possible that it will become one or at the least gain a more influential position.[19] Japan is also attempting to become a permanent member[20], though the attempts of both are opposed by other Asian countries (i.e. India's bid is opposed by Pakistan; Japan's bid is opposed by China, South Korea, North Korea).[21]

An Asian regional bloc may be further developed in the twenty-first century around ASEAN and other bodies on the basis of free trade agreements.[22] However, there is some political concern amongst the national leaderships of different Asian countries about PRC's hegemonic ambitions in the region. Another new organization, the East Asian Summit, could also possibly create an EU like trade zone.[23]

The Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov encouraged the idea of a triple alliance between Russia, the PRC and India first formulated by Indian strategist Madhav Das Nalapat in 1983[24], and supported the idea of a multipolar world.[25] With the November 2006 visit of Hu Jintao to India, the idea seems to be gaining some momentum.[citation needed]


Despite forecasts that predict the rising economic and political strength of Asia, the idea of an Asian Century has faced criticism. This has included the possibility that the continuing high rate of growth could lead to revolution, economic slumps, and environmental problems, especially in mainland China[26]. Some believe that the twenty-first century will be multipolar, and no one country or continent will have such a concentration of influence. Even in the "American" twentieth century there was still a balance of power with the British and other European colonial empires from 1900 until 1945, and with the Soviet Union from 1945 until 1991.


See also


  1. ^ Security and Development Assistance
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Keillor 2007, p. 83
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "India’s Rising Growth Potential". Goldman Sachs. 2007. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ David, Jacques-Henri. "In 2020, America Will Still Dominate Global Economy", Le Figaro, August 25, 2005. Retrieved September 21, 2006.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Paulson, Amanda. "Next hot language to study: Chinese", The Christian Science Monitor, November 8, 2005. Retrieved September 21, 2006.
  18. ^
  19. ^ [3]
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^


External links

Speeches and Political Statements

growth 2005 Speech by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh




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