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PacNet #5A – A Reality Check in Asia

The hearts of Asia-Pacific strategists are all a flutter. The desire of Japan’s new government to “rebalance” its foreign policy between East and West and the tensions between Tokyo and Washington that have followed in its wake are seen as portents of a shift in the regional balance of power. Propelled by a global recession that is widely seen as “made in the USA” and the striking contrast posed by China’s resilience and rising confidence, there is a growing sense that we are witnesses to the first stages in a fundamental transition in the way the world works. This is a compelling portrait – but it is simplistic and the implications that many draw from the changes underway are way overdrawn. This is crude zero-sum thinking, and it doesn’t capture the dynamics of contemporary Asia.