What Will Asia’s Ascendance Bring?

In 1889, two years after an eccentric American millionaire established the European edition of The New York Herald, precursor of International Herald Tribune, Rudyard Kipling dined with some British businessmen in Hong Kong. The imperial rulers of China, most recently humiliated by France, had reluctantly started to modernize their vast domain; British entrepreneurs, who had long chafed at the Middle Kingdom’s stubborn isolationism, were drawn to the new possibility of investments and profits. Kipling, however, worried that these men who were doing their best to ‘‘force upon the great Empire all the stimulants of the West, railways, tramlines, and so forth’’ were deeply misguided. ‘‘What will happen,’’ he wondered, ‘‘when China really wakes up, runs a line from Shanghai to Lhasa, and controls her own gun-factories and arsenals?’’ The future feared by Kipling, in which Asians adopt the stimulants of Western countries and the East comes dangerously close to meeting the West as equals, is now our present: abrupt emergence of China, after intense period of economic globalization, and the redrawing of Asia’s political and economic relationships will define the next 125 years just as the previous century and a quarter was defined by a worldwide diffusion of Western models of politics, economy and culture. But in the late 1880s, rise of the East and relative decline of the West would have seemed very remote. Having broken out of their small continent, Europeans were still in the middle of an unprecedented global expansion, fueled by industrial capitalism. Most of Asia’s predominantly agrarian societies had been subordinated; the scramble for Africa, which even Germany, a latecomer to imperial expansion, would join, had only just begun. In less than a decade, United States, having completed its internal expansion, would also start an international quest for markets and territories; and Kipling would be on hand to exhort the country to share white man’s burden and civilize the natives of Asia and Africa. This white man’s presumption was not baseless. The political and philosophical breakthroughs of French Revolution and the Enlightenment combined with industrial revolution had brought about a radical new vision of human possibility, one previously unknown to or untested by the agrarian, religious-minded, communitarian peoples of Europe as well as Asia and Africa. This new conception of good life, defined for centuries by association with religious virtue, had as its center sovereign individual: liberated from older obligations to guild and church, his pursuit of self-interest would be henceforth assisted by the continuous technical innovation, commercial expansion and the political institutions of nation-state. Competing European empires brought this new vision to Asia and Africa through the 19th century; and easy successes over poorly equipped natives seemed to vindicate it. Thus, Woodrow Wilson in 1901, high noon of imperialism, confidently proclaiming ‘‘the universal world of commerce,’’ could say ‘‘the East is to be opened and transformed’’ and ‘‘the standards of the West are to be imposed upon it’’ (…..)

Link: http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/what-will-asias-ascendance-bring/ 


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

5 Responses to What Will Asia’s Ascendance Bring?

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: From Brazil’s perspective, the rise of China is the BEST chance ever to develop the economy and create a better and prosperous society for ALL Brazilians. China is a win-win proposition to Brazil for two reasons. First, China demands ever increasing amounts of Brazil’s commodity exports and could become the MAIN source of foreign direct investment in key Brazilian sectors. Second, Brazil has reached a stage of economic and social development that allows a more level playing field exchange with China in areas such as hard sciences, aeronautic and space, information technology and advanced industrial military R&D. The two economies are highly complementary in many areas. The relation Brazil-China has the proper geopolitical context to AVOID mistakes of the past when economic relations were one sided in favor of Western colonial powers. In this new century, the quality of relations between Brazil-China depends entirely of the Brazilian elite leadership. If they chooses wisely, the country will strength its leadership position in UNASUR, the South American economic integration bloc. Besides, the country will be better positioned to play a significant role in world affairs at the UN. In sum, Brazil greets enthusiastically the rise of Asia and China in the 21st century. As the old saying goes: high tide lifts all boats.


  2. On Monday, I boarded a plane from Rome to Beijing packed with Chinese tour groups returning from their Golden Week vacations in Europe. After sun-drenched, insouciant Italy, the rowdy cabin was a shock. Turning to a Chinese tour guide on my right, I asked whether his charges had enjoyed Rome’s grand churches. “Churches?” he repeated, surprised. He pointed to overflowing duty-free bags around us. “Trust me, they don’t like churches. They only want to shop!” On a brief visit to Paris earlier on the trip, the group had spent over four hours at Galeries Lafayette, the famous department store. In 2011, 70 million Chinese traveled abroad, and the World Tourism Organization estimates that the figure will surge to 100 million by 2020. Nine of the 10 hottest destinations were within Asia (the United States was the exception), topped by Hong Kong, according to the China Tourism Academy. Chinese spent $47 billion on their bank cards abroad in 2011 — two-thirds more than the previous year. In Europe, hotels, luxury shops and department stores are hiring staff who speak Mandarin to lure in Chinese customers. One place those visitors won’t be staying, however, is the new boutique hotel by Thierry Gillier, the founder of the fashion house Zadig & Voltaire. Last week Gillier made an international faux pas when he said in an interview to Women’s Wear Daily that his hotel, due to launch in 2014, “won’t be open to Chinese tourists.” He wants to privilege guests looking for “quiet with a certain privacy.” He has since apologized, and the Web site of Women’s Wear Daily apparently changed his reference to “Chinese tourists” to read “busloads of tourists.” But Gillier’s comment had already hit a nerve. Chinese tourists were voted the second-worst behaved in the world, after Americans, in a recent LivingSocial survey of five countries, including the United States. Stereotypes of vulgarity — like spitting in the street and a preference for shopping over sightseeing — make Chinese tourists appear to many old-school Europeans like the worst kind of nouveau riche, the new face of mass tourism. Back home, the Chinese are both worried about how they are being perceived abroad and angry at the old world’s snobbism. One article for China Newsweek, which states that the Chinese leave an impression of “rowdy tourist hordes who just shop like crazy,” has been widely forwarded online (…..)


  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Last century, the ‘ugly American’ was the poster card for the noisy and insensitivity tourist towards local customs and culture. Now, is turn of millions of Chinese tourists to be labeled as the Americans did in the past. Does it matter? Businessmen and governments all over the world know quite well the Golden Rule: He who has the GOLD makes the RULES. This old saying is particularly true for the European economies.

    In fact, tourism is the ONLY remaining competitive area for many European economies, particularly the ones in financial trouble such as Portugal, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Italy and even sophisticated France. How long does the snobbish Thierry Gillier — founder of the fashion house Zadig & Voltaire — can afford NOT to have Chinese tourists in his fancy hotel because “he wants to privilege guests looking for quiet with a certain privacy?”

    I bet my retirement money that Mr Gillier and his staff will soon greeting Chinese tourists in flawless Mandarin. Money still talks in the 21st century, people.


  4. The sprawling Chinese economy is hard to read at the best of times. This week, as I wrote here, a flood of data painted a complex picture: shades of gloom (the slowest expansion in years) mixed with nuggets of optimistic — or at least less bad — news (a stabilization in September). Analysts, left scrambling for metaphors, spiced up their commentary with a mix of old favorites and new creations. Almost all of them spoke of “bottoming out,” “stabilization,” or both. The teams at Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch resorted to the phrase “green shoots.” Standard Chartered titled its research note “China — A glimmer of dawn.” UBS dampened any hopes for a V-shaped or U-shaped rebound, and went, instead, for the letter L, saying any rebound would be “modest at best and nothing to write home about.” And IHS Global Insight in Beijing commented that at least “those fearing a hard landing will be able to sleep a little better tonight.” Top metaphor marks, though, go to Arthur Kroeber of the analytics firm GK Dragonomics, whose analysis this week of the challenges facing China concluded that the country needed to go on a diet: “For the last decade China enjoyed a delicious and fattening diet of cheesecake. This was all right for a while, but now the risk of arterial sclerosis looms, and a strict corrective regimen of broccoli is called for. It is not as tasty, but much healthier in the long run.”


  5. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: China faces an economic dilemma that causes envy to the highly indebted G-7 countries. That is, whether to grow at a fast clip of 10% annually or slow down a little bit to a single digit. Regarding the piece above, Western economic forecasters have no credibility whatsoever to advise China for two reasons. First, in the last three decades, economic research firms are saying that China’s double digit economic growth is unsustainable. China’s doomsday economic scenarios are trumpet out in “confidential ” reports and mass media such as the NYT. Well, China’s economy just keeps growing. Second, the Coup de Grace. The most devastating financial and economic crisis in US modern history was NOT predicted or forecast by any research firm or, by the hundreds of Nobel Prize winners teaching economics at Ivy League universities and doing consultant work for Wall Street firms.

    The crux of the matter is: If western economists do not even understand the workings of the major western economy, how can they do a better job about China? an economy that they know even less that the US? At this juncture, I haven’t read any (worth) in depth study about China’s economy done by a western economist.



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