Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Policy analyst Dr. Michael Auslin gave a talk on February 4 at the Lang Center. Two seniors, Gloria Kim and Paige Willey, worked with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a think tank, to bring Auslin to campus to talk about his upcoming book, The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region. The book details the developing economic, environmental, and urban issues that Asia faces.
Auslin is a resident scholar at AEI, with a focus on U.S. strategic planning and Asian policy. Auslin also contributes to the Wall Street Journal. Prior to his current position, Auslin was an associate professor at Yale University, where he taught Japanese history for seven years.
Auslin’s talk focused on the central idea that the United States can no longer afford to ignore Asia, because Asia makes up half of our world. Showing a powerpoint slide with a map of the Asian continent with a circle over the Indo-pacific region, Auslin said, “There are more people living inside this circle than outside of it. With 40% of the global output coming from Asia, Asia is half of our world today.”
Some politicians and economists have termed this time period, where there seems to be relentless growth in the Asian economy as the “the Asian century.” Auslin argued that this was about to end.
“We’ve become so accustomed to thinking about the growth of Asia as the once in a millennium event, that we can’t begin to accept that this might not be the story going forward,” he said.
In a broad overview of the sections of his new book, Auslin detailed five categories of weaknesses that he said plagued Asia silently while the Western media continued to only focus on Asia’s unprecedented economic growth. The five categories were: failed economics reform, lack of political community, unfinished political revolutions, threat of war, and demographic risk. Auslin believes that these five factors resulted in many political, social, and economic risks in Asia.
Auslin illustrated the blinding effects of Asia’s skyrocketing economic rate with a fishing analogy.
“China is like a sea where the fish are jumping out of the sea and into our boats. And we’re catching all of these fish, thinking that we’re such good fishermen, but we’re not looking at the whole picture,” he said.
Now that China was beginning to report slower rates of GDP growth, Auslin said, “we are headed into a new normal. We’ve gotten used to annual 10% growth. We’ve hit the peak of China, and we have to accept it.”
Auslin ended the talk and Q&A session with a call on the students present in the room.
“You guys have to enter a period as you graduate, where you will be dealing with a world, where Asia has become far more important than ever before, where we can no longer afford to ignore asia,” he said.
The End of the Asian Century is to be released Fall 2016.
Featured image courtesy of aei.org