By Biranchi Poudyal
International dominance has historically sustained so long as great rising powers have agreed to them. When single or multiple great powers have challenged the prevailing system, the outcome has always been hegemonic war. Antique past cannot ignore the fact that hegemonic war, rather than diplomatic settlement, has framed almost every international fluctuations. The last decade has witnessed a paradigm shift in industrial and economic supremacy slipping away from former mega powers of the US, France, UK. This change is palpable in the potential of rising Asian countries, particularly the demographically loaded countries like India and China.
Rise of Asia
Since the beginning of the mid-19th century, West has endured its supremacy over the global political economy. But history repeats this phenomenon–during 1700, Asia’s global GDP was 57.6% with china’s sole contribution of 22.3% and India’s 24.5% contrary to Europe’s 25.3%. By 1870, Europe’s cut had raised to 37.7% while China’s bottomed to 17.2% and the whole of Asia accounted for 36%. Europe reaps maximum benefit from the colonial expansion and industrial uprising, while India, China, and South East Asia undergo cold wars, foreign intrusion, and domestic instability. Now, the historical revival of South East Asia over the past two decades reflects stable administration, competitive economic policies, and rapid development. What’s ongoing in current Asia seems to be the repetition of what has happened in the Europe during the Industrial Revolution. This transformation calls for global concern to the changing world power equation.
In contrary to the 20th century when the term “Asia” was often connoted with poverty and undeveloped, today the pendulum has swung to the opposite direction as Asia’s image is equated with impressive growth and development. The projection shows that by 2030, Asia will surpass the United States and Europe in GDP, Demographic force, technological investment and military spending. By then China alone is accounted to reach 19.8% of world GDP, whereas Europe expected to descend to 14.6% and the United States to 14.5%.
The rise of Asia, reinforced by China’s multi-sectored progress, is unparalleled in both pace and balance. At present, Asia not only has become the mega manufacturer around the globe, but it’s on the verge to occupy international market hub as well. Furthermore, in term of foreign reserve, seven of the top ten nations counts from Asia. With Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Mumbai mounting to the standard of international financial centers. Evidently, today’s ongoing power shifts are predominantly connected with the world’s fastest-growing economies, resource mobilization, rising military expenditures and most serious hot spots. Asia obviously stands on queue to the future global influence.
Implication of power shift
This shift of global order has upthrust some serious concerns over its implications. Among public there exist three expected explanation of the rise of Asia. Firstly the rise invites serious threat to per-established world order. Particularly, as a rising power, China will encounter a clash with the hegemonic US, framing war theater, especially in Asia‐Pacific. Second assert that the rise of East vis‐à‐vis the fall of Europe seems inevitable, resulting in an end of the Western supremacy. Third one questions over the rise of Asia: amid fundamental disparities among Asian nations in terms of political system, economic development, religious conflict and geopolitical alignments in world affairs, most Asian countries are doomed by their own internal problems.
Although these possibilities appear very practical they tend to overlook some contextual realities of Asia’s rise and its consequences. Unlike previous emerging powers did, China and India, instead of challenging dominant world order, they amalgamate themselves into the same system. This results in China and to some extent, India also becomes a stakeholder of existing world order long before they hold the capacity to challenge it. Similarly the view of “rise of Asia resulting fall of West” fail to recognize the fact that Asia achieved rapid development by embracing Western values of capitalism and market economy. Of course, the rise of the east will lead to the redistribution of power and dominance yet the course of achieving self-interest, will further integrate Global communities rather than dividing apart. As evident, during global economic crises in 2008 both established and emerging nations step together at G20 for a communal solution, which in turn yield collective benefit.
International societies need to identify the presence of divergent global orders and those differences had many time added incidents of international conflicts in history books. With the rise of Asia, the world demands inclusive global institution to represent both east and west. Only that can provide the foundation of a new global consensus.
Biranchi Poudyal is a freelance writer and researcher. He’s pursuing MA in International Relations ad Diplomacy at Tribhuvan University.