Parag Khanna’s book „Our Asian Future ”has just been discussed in the German TV magazine ttt. He is US-Indian and lives in Singapore. He is a supporter of meritocracy. Here is the FOCUS interview with Parag Khanna with his main theses.
The Asian century is not the first time a topic, but is now becoming more acute and obvious. In my view, he correctly describes some economic trends. The thesis that Asia is now an independent system that has developed further since the 2008 financial crisis, which was essentially a Western crisis, is only partly correct, but not wrong in the tendency. Also, that the USA will not prevent China from becoming a high-tech power through its trade wars. partly because most of China’s hi-tech imports now come from Asia. My fear is rather that the United States, perhaps already under Trump, will start a Sino-American war because they see no other way to stop or change this historical trend in any other way, but I hope my fears don’t become true and that I’m wrong.But
is his thesis that Asia is now an independent „system“ that has developed further since the 2008 financial crisis, which was essentially a Western crisis correct as India doesn´t want to become a member of the RCEP beyond BRICS and the SCO? Will there be an Asian Union or Eurasian Union or something comparable? Or will the trend be as in the 20s and 30s when Panasianism was emerging but ended in Japan´s Great Prosperity Sphere and WW2?
However, I think Khanna’s statement that the majority in Asia is democracy is extremely optimistic and wrong, even if he is right that most Asians are conservative. But he overlooks the fact that India is transforming itself into a Hindu-nationalist dictatorship and that China is well on the way to becoming a neo-totalitarian one-man dictatorship and as Asia for him is everything East of the Suez Canal, this includes authoritarian Russia, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East or Thailand under its military rule. He sees this only as a short-term anomaly, which will be followed by liberalization. The CP China wants to become a big Germany. The old democratization idealism of the liberal West, the change through trade mantra and I am not surprised that Khanna also worked for the Council for Foreign Relations and for Obama. Kai Strittmatter’s book „The Reinvention of the Dictatorship“ is more realistic.
A German ex-diplomat commented this as follows:
„Share your assessment in all points, but would like to add that a Korean interview partner at the weekend judged the current economic situation in China quite skeptically, especially growth prospects and debt.
The interlocutor is successful as a supplier to the shipbuilding industry. He reported that the international shipowners who have built in China in recent years are now returning to Korea.
Statement: „After the first ship that was launched for them in China, they don’t order any more there!“ The quality is too bad.
Every Chinese province with a coast had invested heavily in building shipyard capacity. There were subsidies from the central government, which no longer flow. At most there are orders from the Chinese Navy.
Let’s see if that’s true and how it goes. ”
To relate the South Korean conversation partner of the shipping industry and without wanting to get too close: With the Made 2025, China is relying on high technology from AI, cloud, Quantum computers, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, renewable energies, high-speed trains, etc. It is a matter of fact that old industries that were previously considered new industries are happy to be left abroad. China undoubtedly has traditional industries such as steel, coal, concrete, shipbuilding, etc. and overcapacities and the quality may not be so good. On the one hand, these overcapacities are attempted to be sold using the New Silk Road, but the focus is on high technology and digitalization for the future, and the entire low wage productions of the Deng and Jiang years the CP China wants to migrate to other cheap labour countries and China even invests reinvest abroad themselves as an expanded production chain within their targeted new world trading system.
For South Koreans and their chaebols, their electrical, automotive and shipping industries may have been the success story, but these will no longer be the main industries of the future. To what extent the South Korean partner in China’s shipping industry only wants to blacken with quality doubts or is right, I can not judge. After China got its first aircraft carrier from Ukraine, it has now allegedly launched its own self-built aircraft carrier. And since China wants to become more a naval power in the history of Zheng He, the excess capacities, perhaps not premium in terms of quality, will certainly be sufficient. South Korea’s future, like Germany or Europe, will decide whether it can develop AI, cloud computing, quantum computers, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, renewable energies, etc and not just the old, former new industries. Especially since one can also prove South Korea by means of its professor for genetic engineering, who rose to the status of national hero and then became a cheap counterfeiter. Therefore, a partial return from China to South Korean shipbuilding says nothing about the future viability of the country, especially since these too old industries that make up the world export champion South Korea like Germany could also soon be the victim of a US trade war.
And as long as there is no Made Germany / EU 2025 and transport and digitalization ministers are more concerned about e-scooters and flight taxis and appear at e-game conventions with laser swords and wonder woman dress instead of dealing with the really disruptive future technologies, I would worry less about China. After all, the EU has now decided on a digitalization strategy. Let’s see if it is as successful as China’s.