Rise of China and the dawn of Asian Century

Rise of China and the dawn of Asian Century
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NEW DELHI, July 10, (APP): Britain's vote to

leave the European Union and simmering discontent in other

Western countries is seen as hastening the arrival of an

"Asian Century", analysts say, led by the rise of China and

India.

By 2050, Asia will account for over half the world's

GDP, almost double that of 2011, according to the Asian

Development Bank, with three billion newly affluent citizens.

The EU and other powerful collectives such as the

United Nations, NATO, IMF and World Bank hark back to the post-World

War II era, with a vision of cooperation leading to peace,

prosperity and security.

But the churning currents of globalisation

and institutions' reluctance to reform have left Asian nations

feeling that they are not well-represented and looking to

form new alliances.

"The old system which kept the West rich and safe is

under threat," said Neelam Deo, a former ambassador and director

at Gateway House think-tank in Mumbai.

"The British voting to leave the EU in the way they did

will impact the old institutions which were set up after World War

II and intended to entrench Western power," she said.

Brexit has summoned the spectre of a domino-like departure

of other members of the EU, pounded by the migrant and euro crises,

as well as a fragmenting United Kingdom, should Scotland

vote for independence.

A resurgent Russia, which is angered by EU- and

US-imposed sanctions and has friendly ties with China and India,

has hailed the Brexit vote as it looks for cracks to exploit.

- 'Decline of Europe' -

=======================

As the "American Century" got underway after WWII,

following imperial Britain before it, China was writhing in the

chaos of civil war and colonial India was just

gaining independence.

Now China is the world's second-largest economy, set to

overtake the US in around a decade, while India will be the

world's most populous nation by 2022.

The IMF named the Chinese renminbi a reserve currency -- a

main world currency -- last November, joining the pound, dollar,

euro and yen.

Rising economic stars Indonesia and the Philippines are

growing at around five percent a year, while Europe remains sluggish.

Yet emerging markets argue that IMF voting reforms still

don't give them a big enough voice, while India laments its lack

of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Three centuries ago, before the industrial revolution, Asia

was the dominant power, far away from the twin Atlantic centres.

With a name that harks back to those days, Beijing's

flagship "One Belt, One Road" policy seeks to revive the ancient

Silk Road trade route with huge investment from central Asia

to Europe.

In January China opened the Asian Infrastructure

Investment Bank, seen as rivalling the World Bank or the

Japan-led Asian Development Bank, seeking to expand its

financial clout.

Describing itself as "a bank conceived for the 21st

century", AIIB has attracted 57 members including Britain and

Australia -- with the notable exclusions of the United States

and Japan.

- 'Romantic vision' -

=====================

Asia's growing clout rests on various assumptions,

including that nations continue on the same economic trajectory

and aren't derailed by unforeseen financial crises.

Other threats include rising inequality, the middle-income

trap -- where an economy gets stuck at a certain stage of

development -- and competition for natural resources.

Tensions between rivals China and India were highlighted in

June when Beijing blocked New Delhi's entry to the Nuclear

Suppliers Group, a trade group of 48 nations.

"India and China have a fair amount of discontent. Until

this is resolved, the Asian Century is going to be very elusive,"

C. Uday Bhaskar, a leading Indian security analyst told AFP.

And the West will vigorously defend itself after Brexit,

with US President Obama insisting at a NATO summit Friday

that the earthquake will not harm transatlantic unity.

World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim used a visit to New Delhi

in the aftermath to warn against nations "looking inward".

But the US is feeling similar pulls, with

presidential candidate Donald Trump playing to a desire to

retrench from globalisation and immigration by pledging to

bring back manufacturing and build a wall with Mexico.

Some see a drift back towards sovereign nation states

hostile to outside forces -- seen in the mantra of "take back

control from Brussels" that won the Brexit vote.

"We had this romantic vision to be one world -- it is

clearly over, nation member states have come back with a

vengeance," said Samir Saran, a senior fellow at the

Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

"It is something we are witnessing around the world.

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