Asia is land of extremes. The largest nations, the biggest populations, the highest mountains. It is within this vast geography, that covers the jungles of the South East and the steppes of Northern China and Mongolia, that much of the world’s complex history has taken place.
Within Asia some of the world’s largest and most powerful civilisations have emerged, including the Mongol and Mughal Empires, the Chinese kingdoms and the Japanese Shogunate. As we enter the 21st century it is clear that the balance of power has shifted, once again, to Asia. The rise of China, India and the Asian Tigers have come to characterise the economic situation of the 21st century. These are now amongst the leading nations dictating both international politics and regional alliances. With this growing economic power, rich heritage and thriving culture the nations of Asia have become the central focus on many of the world’s leading global powers.
However, Asia is a continent of great contrasts. Despite being the new leaders of the global economy they are also nations where wealth inequality is at its highest throughout the world. Nations like India have to work out now to ensure that economic growth actually benefits the poorest in society and lifts them out of poverty. It must also learn how to achieve this rapid economic growth without destroying the ecology and natural beauty that has drawn civilisations here for centuries.
Critically, there are also many questions about politics that need to be answered. How can we deal with the continued control imposed by China’s government in Beijing and how can we balance the threat of North Korea? In the emergence of the Asian Century Asia itself will answer many of those questions, find new solutions and continue to grow.
“He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it”.
Confucius, (551-479 BC) Chinese Philosopher