Challenges in the East

Throughout Asia, significant changes are taking place that affect global economic development and security. On one hand many Asian countries have experienced substantial economic growth in recent years, while on the other hand political unrest and human rights violations remain widespread. Even in the more successful developing economies, the distribution of wealth is frequently unequal, the rights of citizens and corporations are not well protected, rule of law is inconsistent, illicit trade is often rampant, environmental regulations are lacking or poorly enforced, and food prices are increasing while jobs are becoming more scarce. Moreover, Asia’s export-based economies now face severe challenges as product demand from the West continues to drop amid the global financial crisis, forcing these countries to re-evaluate their economic and social strategies.

Of particular importance in Asia today is China. Currently, over one quarter of Earth’s population speaks Chinese, and China’s economy has become one of the largest in the world. The economic reforms over the last two decades have also significantly increased China’s technological and military power bringing the country into a new realm of competition with other world players. If China becomes a responsible trading partner and positive player in global affairs, the opportunities are boundless. However, the challenges facing Asia are often compounded in China because of its size, political structure, and global influence.

In many Asian countries, a lack of rule of law and accepted standards of practice has led to unsafe economic development, institutionalized corruption, and has left people and businesses unprotected. In addition, a lack of media freedom and access to internet obstructs the flow of information into, out of, and within certain countries, and creates a state of collective ignorance on both sides of the Pacific, further exacerbating the problems.

Challenges in the West »