In his recent book, "Asian Century … on a Knife-edge," John West questions the conventional wisdom that the 21st century will belong to Asia. He argues that in recent years many observers have succumbed to a case of “Asian-Century hype.” In reality, Asia is suffering from stunted economic and social development. John identifies seven economic, social, political and geopolitical challenges for realising an Asian Century, but doubts that Asia’s leading economies have the political will to tackle these challenges. Further, he identifies numerous possible sources of economic, social, and political crisis.


Nevertheless, the Indo-Pacific of the 21st century is becoming increasingly dominated by Asia’s emerging giants - China, India and Indonesia - which have some of the world's largest economies. John argues that these countries are fragile superpowers whose power derives mainly from their enormous populations. Even by mid-century, they will still be well behind advanced countries like the US, Japan and Germany in terms of economic, business, and technological sophistication. But this has not stopped the rise of strategic competition between an increasingly distracted US and a growingly assertive China, despite the latter's domestic fragilities. Countries like Australia face great challenges in adapting to this new strategic environment.


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