Time for an Asian Century
Mains : G.S. II & III Polity & Governance, International Relations and Economy related issues Context
- India’s challenge is in securing an Atmanirbhar Bharat in the emerging world order, navigating the U.S. – China technology and supply chain clash.
- In more equal world, the RCEP has immediate geopolitical and economic implications, with the West adapting to Asian rules and marking the end of colonial phase of of global history.
- Will we see the world returning to the centrality of Asian civilisations sharing prosperity, with the U.S. adjusting to a group of three?
- Or will the Asian giants be irreconcilable rivals with the U.S. rules based order maintaining peace and prosperity?
- The mega trade deal was led by ASEAN, not by China, and includes Japan and Australia, military allies of the U.S., all opting for the Asian Century as they do not see China as a threat the way the U.S. does.
- ASEAN centrality’ rejects the current frame of the West setting the agenda.
- RCEP’s principles and objectives allow individual countries to choose the scope and product categories for bilateral tariff schedules, and exclude divisive issues like labour and environment.
- The new frame goes beyond transfer of goods and services, focuses on integration and facilitating supply chains for sharing prosperity, requires a very different calculus for assessment.
- RCEP’s new rules on electronic commerce could offset losses in declining trade in goods. ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ will leverage endogenous technological strength, data and population.
- Both China and India are breaking the monopoly of the West in wireless telecommunications, AI and other emerging technologies.
- India has also, in the UN, questioned Western domination calling for a “reformed multilateralism”.
- The dilemma for the West is that sharing power will mark the end of its primacy in global affairs.
- The dilemma for the U.S. is more acute. With China having developed the capacity to bridge the technological gap, the U.S. weaponised interdependence by banning export of semiconductor chips and forcing sale of innovative Chinese technology.
- China’s response is a ‘dual circulation’ strategy for self-reliance and military technological prowess to surpass the U.S
- The global governance role of the U.S. is already reduced.
- The U.S. Congressional Research Service report dated October 30 identifies four key elements of this role: global leadership; defence and promotion of the liberal international order; defence and promotion of freedom, democracy, and human rights; and prevention of the emergence of regional hegemons in Eurasia.
- The U.S. now exercises power with others, not over them.
- Despite its military ‘pivot’ to Asia, the U.S. needs India in the Quad, to counterbalance the spread of China’s influence through land based trade links.
- No country has become a global power relying on others. India needs a new strategic doctrine and mindset.