Book Review: Asian Century on a knife-edge, by John West
Prof John West’s book, “Asian Century on a knife-edge” takes a critical look at all major Asian economies and outlines a realistic scenario about the areas of improvement for them. We often read economic projections from different consulting firms and media houses which extrapolate current trends and come up with GDP estimates for 2030 and 2050. However, history shows that extrapolation rarely comes true as every economy goes through highs and lows. Prof West examines the political and social factors for Asian economies which are the constituents of an economy. For example, for an economy to keep growing, we need an open system which allows start-ups to expand and grow. This process has been termed as creative destruction, which is how new technologies are adopted by replacing older ones. Similarly, a snapshot of the population is a factor, which decides how many people productively add to the economy and how many need to be taken care of. The book describes the threats that are causes for concern for every individual economy.
An interesting point which many authors miss out on, is the effect on Asian politics. The US and EU have been peaceful without any military tensions since World War II. So, NATO can act as a significant pole in the world, led by the US. In Asia, the lessons haven’t been learned from WW II, and countries have a lot of military tensions. Some of them are run by dictatorial regimes. At least one behaves as an empire. Because of these factors, even if Asia grows much larger economically, none of the countries will be in a position to dominate. Also, if Asia grows much larger than the west, there is a risk of the world narrative moving away from liberal democracy.
*Amal Sinha is a columnist on World Economics and its impact on Politics. His areas of interest include China, SE Asia, and the Middle East.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of The Kootneeti Team.