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The Asian Century
Predicting the Unpredictable
Xie Tao
Beijing Foreign Studies University
Rethinking the Asian Century:
The one, the two, or the many?
•The One: dominated by China?
•The Two: divided between China and India?
•The Many: characterized by many uncertainties
and contingent scenarios?
The rise of Asia in sequence
•The rise of East Asia in the 20th century
•First the four Asian Tigers, then China
•The rise of the rest of Asia in the 21st century
•First India, followed by Indonesia, Philippines,
Vietnam
The Asian century in numbers
The Asian Century as the Chinese century
A most likely scenario?
•Population
•Projected growth rate (6% annual)
•Governance capabilities (effective leadership)
•Inclusive development (BRI and AIIB)
What would the Chinese
century look like?
•Shanghai replaces New York as the world’s
financial center
•Beijing as center of higher education and
innovation
•High-speed railway between Kunming, Hanoi,
Yangon, and Bangkok
•Plush offices of Chinese companies in Seoul,
Tokyo, Hanoi, Manila, Bangkok, Yangon, New
Delhi
•Chinese language as the mandatory second
language in publish schools across Asia
ChIndia:An alternative scenario
•Due to political, cultural, and geographical reasons,
China and India may well divide up Asia into two
"spheres of influence"
•East and central Asia: dominated by China (Japan,
Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia)
•Southeast and west Asia: dominated by India
(Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, and west Asia)
Present America as future China
What could go wrong?
•With rising costs (shortage of labor and environmental
regulation), many Chinese manufacturing companies
outsource to Southeast and Central Asia, Africa, and
Latin America.
•China runs astronomical trade deficit; protectionism
on the rise as foreign imports flood the mainland.
•Middle and low-income class frustrated by wage
stagnation, incited by nationalist sentiments.
Geopolitical Divisions Destroy the Asian Century
The worst case scenario
•US and its allies (ROK, Japan, Thailand, Philippines) and partners (India,
Singapore, Vietnam)
•China’s problematic relations with Japan, both Koreas, Vietnam, Philippines,
and India
•Japan-Korea relations, India-Pakistan, divided ASEAN, Taiwan
•If the current geopolitical matrix in Asia gets even more complicated—say crises
in Northeast Asia, Taiwan, or South China Sea—then the Asian century may
end up being an illusion.
•Intensifying U.S.-China rivalry coupled with long-standing political issues
involving many countries could make Asia a keg of gunpowder on a short fuse.
Professor Xie Tao
Why does statesmanship matter
and what can be done?
•To harness the economic potential—and all the
benefits of such potential for human development—of
the vast Asian land, we need creative statesmanship to
address regional and global challenges.
•Statesmanship depends not on a few exceptional
individuals, but on institutions that bring together and
educate future leaders. Universities are uniquely
positioned to play this crucial role.

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Professor Xie Tao

  • 1. The Asian Century Predicting the Unpredictable Xie Tao Beijing Foreign Studies University
  • 2. Rethinking the Asian Century: The one, the two, or the many? •The One: dominated by China? •The Two: divided between China and India? •The Many: characterized by many uncertainties and contingent scenarios?
  • 3. The rise of Asia in sequence •The rise of East Asia in the 20th century •First the four Asian Tigers, then China •The rise of the rest of Asia in the 21st century •First India, followed by Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam
  • 4. The Asian century in numbers
  • 5. The Asian Century as the Chinese century A most likely scenario? •Population •Projected growth rate (6% annual) •Governance capabilities (effective leadership) •Inclusive development (BRI and AIIB)
  • 6. What would the Chinese century look like? •Shanghai replaces New York as the world’s financial center •Beijing as center of higher education and innovation •High-speed railway between Kunming, Hanoi, Yangon, and Bangkok •Plush offices of Chinese companies in Seoul, Tokyo, Hanoi, Manila, Bangkok, Yangon, New Delhi •Chinese language as the mandatory second language in publish schools across Asia
  • 7. ChIndia:An alternative scenario •Due to political, cultural, and geographical reasons, China and India may well divide up Asia into two "spheres of influence" •East and central Asia: dominated by China (Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia) •Southeast and west Asia: dominated by India (Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, and west Asia)
  • 8. Present America as future China What could go wrong? •With rising costs (shortage of labor and environmental regulation), many Chinese manufacturing companies outsource to Southeast and Central Asia, Africa, and Latin America. •China runs astronomical trade deficit; protectionism on the rise as foreign imports flood the mainland. •Middle and low-income class frustrated by wage stagnation, incited by nationalist sentiments.
  • 9. Geopolitical Divisions Destroy the Asian Century The worst case scenario •US and its allies (ROK, Japan, Thailand, Philippines) and partners (India, Singapore, Vietnam) •China’s problematic relations with Japan, both Koreas, Vietnam, Philippines, and India •Japan-Korea relations, India-Pakistan, divided ASEAN, Taiwan •If the current geopolitical matrix in Asia gets even more complicated—say crises in Northeast Asia, Taiwan, or South China Sea—then the Asian century may end up being an illusion. •Intensifying U.S.-China rivalry coupled with long-standing political issues involving many countries could make Asia a keg of gunpowder on a short fuse.
  • 11. Why does statesmanship matter and what can be done? •To harness the economic potential—and all the benefits of such potential for human development—of the vast Asian land, we need creative statesmanship to address regional and global challenges. •Statesmanship depends not on a few exceptional individuals, but on institutions that bring together and educate future leaders. Universities are uniquely positioned to play this crucial role.