Challenges in the West

The growing influence of Asia, and China in particular, demands an in-depth and immediate understanding of the region. Confronting the challenges posed by Asia’s meteoric rise requires Western business and political leaders, as well as society at large, to develop a clearer and more nuanced understanding of Asia’s social, political, legal, and even military systems and culture. Given that growth in China and Asia depends in substantial part on the US consumer, and that the US financial system looks in part to Chinese savings to finance its growth and finance stimulus measures in the wake of the financial crisis, the economies and fortunes of both nations are clearly interrelated.

As the world economy becomes ever more integrated, a plan to tap into the Asian market has made its way into the long-term strategies of many major corporations. However, gaining a strategic understanding from outside the region often proves difficult. In addition to language barriers, geographical distance, and cultural differences, some of the biggest obstacles facing the West in its engagement with Asia are exactly the same as the region’s internal challenges. These problems have slowed Asia’s integration into the global community and economy, and created a disconnect between the true reality of the region and its perceived reality from the outside. This has prevented foreign firms from being able to properly safeguard their current investments in the region and strategize their future prospects there in a way that will achieve mutual benefits for the businesses and people on both sides of the relationship.

The financial crisis has shown that greed and corruption pose enormous threats to the health of our global economy. As western governments and financial institutions address the root causes of the current crisis, they must also help the developing economies of the world to make the difficult changes necessary to ensure their continued growth, avoid the economic crisis becoming a humanitarian crisis, and contribute to a global financial rebound, lest the problems Wall Street is fixing today later be repeated or exceeded by others.

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