The Continent Of Asia: Part 2
In this two part series, we cover the massive and diverse continent of Asia. Part 1 reviewed the challenge areas that exist, Part 2 will discuss the areas of positive development and opportunity.
In our two-part general overview of the state of affairs in Asia, our first article overviewed Asia’s continuing challenges. These included corruption, pollution, poverty etc. Of course, despite its challenges, Asia has been recording astonishing growth and overall development, making it one of the fastest growing regions on the planet. In part two of this series, we will look at the main positive developments currently occurring in Asia.
Phenomenal economic growth
The growth of the continent has been more visible from an economic angle. Some of the world’s fastest economies are located in Asia. The continent has enjoyed a nice bout of growth from production to international commerce elevating its economies to a position of inspiration amongst nations, while being the envy for others.
Economic growth in Asia and the Pacific has been calculated to accelerate to 5.5% for this year. For last year, the growth was at 5.3%. This rich vein of the continental economy is expected to stretch sustainably into the future with figures nailing growth at a minimum of 5.5% in 2018. Compare this to the U.S. GDP in 2017 which looks to reach 2.5%, and its forecast for 2018, which is currently also at 2.5%. The EU’s GDP in 2017 has been 1.7%, with it’s 2018 forecast to be at 1.8%
Leading the pack is China’s massive economy, the second largest in the globe. China’s economic explosion is almost unprecedented, a strong push combining the right politics with policies. China’s economic growth is expected to continue with the economy still formidably supported by demand sustained by policy stimulus. The Asian powerhouse has been shifting the nerve of its economy from manufacturing, diversifying it to consumption and services. This is aimed at a long term durability for the potency of the Chinese economy so as to reduce excess capacity from the manufacturing sector with consumer expenditure now championing the flourish of the Chinese economy.
India, the world’s 2nd most populous country, and the world’s biggest democracy, is making great moves as well. By the fiscal year of 2017-2018, India’s economic growth should have sprung to 7.2% and the Indian GDP expected to leap by 7.5% in 2017-2018.
Japan, too, has been enjoying economic consolidations after suffering a stretch of dilapidation in its economy. For this year, Japan’s economic growth got close to 1.2%. Responsible for this has been a strategic expansionary fiscal policy. Also complementing this Japanese growth was the fact that the consumption tax hike was postponed.
China’s clean energy revolution
Climate change however controversial it is the few non-believers that still exist, has been leaving its tangible marks around the globe. Centuries of sustained industrial pollution has pushed the planet to the wall, and now the repercussions are long since catching up to us. Despite Trump’s infamous decision to pull out from the Paris climate agreement, China is pushing to fill the American void in leadership of climate control.
China has been inspiring in its clean energy revolution. Without argument, China is the global leader of renewable energy most particularly solar in a world endeared to coal and fossil fuels for its energy needs. Coal has, and continues to contributed massively to pollution in China, but the nation has a very clear plan to eventually phase dirty energy out, and continue to phase the most cutting edge clean, renewable energy in. China has set an ambitious target of substantiating 20% of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030 starting with the large step of spending $360 billion by 2020. (yes, you read correctly, that’s $320 billion). Some ten years ago, China could only boast of a miserly 100 megawatts from solar energy. Fast forward to 2016, China had over 76 gigawatts being produced by solar energy. The International Energy Agency reports that China sourced two-third of its energy needs last year from renewable energy.
China’s renewable energy push is not just about powering its economy or dramatically reducing its CO2 imprint. China views its massive investments in renewables as a critical aspect of establishing a dominant geopolitical advantage over nations and regions that have been slow to adopt clean energy technologies. This strategy would effectively ensure that China owns the 21st century as the most powerful economy to have ever graced the planet earth.
Reduction in poverty
Poverty, while still a major problem in Asia, has slowly started to improve. With economies and standards of living improving in many parts of Asia, poverty will gradually start to become less and less of an issue. Speaking of the standard of living, this is well on the increase too. In 1990, 50% of all of Asia languished in deep poverty. By 2012, the figure had dropped to 15%. In Pakistan for example, the count of people who lived below $1.25 a day was 35.9%, but by 2011, this percentage had dropped to 12.7% in 2011.
Global disgust with US politics turns countries to Asia for stability
Regardless of one’s politics, the fact is that most of the world’s most prominent nations and economies find themselves put off by the current state of American politics. Pew Research Center recently put out a study of how the rest of the world views President Donald Trump compared to his predecessors. The results indicate nothing less than a total free fall in confidence of not only Donald Trump as a leader, but in the ability of the US as a whole to lead effectively in the 21st century. In fact, this is precisely why many advanced nations around the world are beginning to turn their back on the US and instead looking to Asia to provide stable, prosperous partnerships. With this swing away from the US, Asia looks to further strengthen its geopolitical hand to the detriment of the United States.
In the end, nations, peoples and cultures rise and fall throughout all of human history. The 21st century looks to be all Asia’s. True, this region continues to have lingering problems that need to be fixed in order to truly reach the next evolution of humankind. But Asia’s unrelenting focus on developing their economies and standards of living will be the growth story for the coming century.