Rethinking the Rise of Asia

Minxin Pei writes Foreign Policy’s latest Think Again feature — Asia’s Rise. It is insightful, provocative, and deftly challenges the most popular assumptions about Asia’s role in the 21st century such as:

  • Power is shifting from west to east. (Not really.)
  • Asia’s rise is unstoppable (Don’t bet on it.)
  • Asian capitalism is more dynamic (Hardly.)
  • Asia will lead the world in innovation (Not in our lifetime.)
  • Dictatorship has given Asia an edge (No.)
  • China will dominate Asia (Not likely.)
  • America is losing influence in Asia (Definitely not.)

Read the full article here.

As an educator, the following made me really think:

Asia is pouring money into higher education. But Asian universities will not become the world’s leading centers of learning and research anytime soon. None of the world’s top 10 universities is located in Asia, and only the University of Tokyo ranks among the world’s top 20. In the last 30 years, only eight Asians, seven of them Japanese, have won a Nobel Prize in the sciences. The region’s hierarchical culture, centralized bureaucracy, weak private universities, and emphasis on rote learning and test-taking will continue to hobble its efforts to clone the United States’ finest research institutions.

Even Asia’s much-touted numerical advantage is less than it seems. China supposedly graduates 600,000 engineering majors each year, India another 350,000. The United States trails with only 70,000 engineering graduates annually. Although these numbers suggest an Asian edge in generating brainpower, they are thoroughly misleading. Half of China’s engineering graduates and two thirds of India’s have associate degrees. Once quality is factored in, Asia’s lead disappears altogether. A much-cited 2005 McKinsey Global Institute study reports that human resource managers in multinational companies consider only 10 percent of Chinese engineers and 25 percent of Indian engineers as even “employable,” compared with 81 percent of American engineers.

Where does this leave us then?

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4 thoughts on “Rethinking the Rise of Asia

  1. You are right, there will be a time where Asia will be the most powerful continent. We also discussed in our history class that all religions came from Asia including Atheist (based on Zoroastrianism). ahehehehehe

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