** This article was written for a talk I was to give to a forum. I could not deliver it as I was sick. Maybe it would be of interest to some people.**
1. I do not know whether the 21st Century would be an Asian Century or not. But what is certain is that Asia would play a greater role in the political, economic and socio-cultural affairs of the world during the century.
2. The world has been Eurocentric almost as soon as the Europeans reached Asia via the Cape of Good Hope. This happened because of the aggressiveness of their culture, which ensured the supply of trade goods through force and conquest.
3. The conquered territories were ruled largely through the European system of Government. It became clear that their system was superior, so that the countries that remained free such as Japan, China, and Thailand adopted the system gradually.
4. The acceptance of the European system extended to the ideologies and culture so that Europeanisation became almost total.
5. Of the Asian countries that Westernised, Japan was the most extensive. It was able to industrialise and to build up its military forces.
6. However, it was only after World War II that the European-style industrialisation took hold and spread to Taiwan, Korea, China and the countries of Southeast Asia.
7. Japan demonstrated an ability to outshine the European and shortly after came Korea and Taiwan. Now India has followed suit.
8. It became clear that the Asian countries of the East are capable of outstripping Europe. Such is their ability to compete in the manufacture of goods that Western products were swept off the world market.
9. Basically the Western countries gave up on manufacturing, except for certain niches, and switched to the financial market. Inventing numerous intangible products, the West seems to continue to grow. But in reality there was no growth as the financial products did not give rise to real business.
10. While the GDP and Per Capita Income figure seems to indicate continued growth and wealth creation, actually the West was in decline. Much of the skills in management and in productions have disappeared.
11. What is clear is that not only is Asia, East Asia in particular growing but the West is actually declining. Eventually the bubble bursts and despite all the efforts put in, the West cannot regain its old capacity to compete with the East, with Asia.
12. It would be wrong however to assume that the world will become Asia centric. Despite the decline of the West, the Europeans are not about to lose all their influence. They would still have a role to play in the affairs of the world.
13. The Asian countries will not be exclusively Asian. It would be shared with the Europeans. But the European will not be as aggressive as they used to be. Recognising the economic power of Asia with its mastery of technology and production capacity, the West will gradually reject any form of military confrontation because this strategy will no longer work. Indeed it can pose great danger to the West.
14. For its part, Asia would do well to realise the futility of open confrontations and war. Asia will not try to emulate the US during its heyday when the threat of force figures much in its policies.
15. The result may be greater respect of the multilateral organisation like the United Nations. China as one of the permanent five will be less likely, to disregard the moral pressure of the United Nations. It is even likely that the United Nations would not be forced through the manipulations of the permanent five. Certainly the United States would not be able to continue dominating or ignoring the United Nations.
16. When the power of Asia balances the power of the west, there would be less tension affecting the world. There could be a period of calm and prosperity for the world.
17. The diplomats of the East and West will have to try to maintain this period of peace and prosperity for as long as possible.
18. This is what the 21st Century will be about. It will be neither an Asian century nor a European century. It is more likely to be the century of the world.