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Story Publication logo July 1, 2009

Is Asia Really on the Rise? Human Obstacles to Political Power.

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Kelly Mallahan and Chris Riha, Pulitzer Center

At the New America Foundation in Washington DC this week, policy experts discussed the supposed global power shift from West to East and the coming of "The Asian Century." Their startling conclusion: Do not believe the hype.

Minxin Pei, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, China Program, and Andrés Martinez, Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program Director at the New America Foundation, focused on potential obstacles to Asian growth and stability, the inability of such a diverse region to act as a cohesive "superpower" and the economic interdependence between China and the US. Even though there is a great deal of rhetoric in the news about Asia's imminent worldwide domination, said Pei, it is much more likely that the world is moving toward a multipolar system where a few countries share influence. Despite statistics showing Asia's rapid growth, it is still unlikely for Asia to supersede the Western world's any time soon. Demographic pressures and weak educational systems, energy and climate issues, and potential political unrest will make it difficult for China or India to become the world's lone superpower.

1855 The Pulitzer Center is examining several critical issues that relate to Pei and Martinez's discussion. To learn more about the challenges facing Pakistan, one of Asia's largest and most populous countries, please visit our project page, "Pakistan: Hearts and Minds. There you can read articles and view photos that detail the many difficulties citizens face when trying to receive an education and show how regional tensions manifest themselves in Pakistan.

770 You can learn more about climate problems in northern China, as the region faces the worst desertification crisis in recent history. This is arguably China's most important environmental challenge and its most under-reported. This information is available on our "Desertification in China" project page.

South Asia is facing water crisis, causing massive health problems and entrenching the cycle of poverty. Learn more by visiting our project page "South Asia's Troubled Waters," and our Gateway educational portal, "Water Wars."

To read Pei's article as it appeared in Foreign Policy magazine, please click here.

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