The the Asian Century” his second book also

The era of Westernization is now coming to a close. The shift in economic and political power from west to east is reshaping the world order. Rise of alternative power centres in Asia, particularly China questions the continuity of west-dominated global politics.Easternisation: War and peace in the Asian Century by Gideon Rachman revolves around the new defining trend ie., shift of power from west to east, which he terms it as “Easternisation”. The tilting influence towards the East can be felt all over the globe with the relative decline of Western power as a whole, accompanied by fears of tensed, bloody and unpredictable Asian Century as contested by Rachman himself.Some of the earlier works on the same development includes “A Contest for Supremacy: China, America and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia” by Aaron L. Friedberg and “When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order” by Martin Jacques. Their central theme outlining the relative rise of new powers in Asia, the rivalry between ‘sole superpower’ ie., US and ‘rising Asian power’ ie., China, and its impact on the 21st century’s geopolitics. Likewise, Samuel P. Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order” also pointed out the potential ‘inter-civilizational war of core states’ between US and China, and the volatile future world politics.Gideon Rachman, the chief foreign affairs commentator of the Financial Times specializes on international issues, particularly on American foreign policy, the European Union and geopolitics in Asia. His first book “Zero-Sum World: Politics, Power, and Prosperity after the Crash” predicts a zero-sum world with increased economic and political struggle between world’s major powers by “win-win” logic of globalization. “Easternisation: War and peace in the Asian Century” his second book also continues with the same argument. He not only mentions some key leaders and thinkers but also provides his own analysis to their narrations.The first part of the book ‘Easternisation in Asia’ talks about the relative decline of West domination in the world affairs with the increasing economic development in Asia. The new world order witnesses an all-time ‘risk of conflict’ where the established great power is being challenged by a rising power, referring to Graham Allison’s coined-phrase ‘Thucydides Trap’.The growing concentration of wealth and economic development in Asia, particularly China has been credited for the rise of Asia as an emerging superpower. Deng Xiaoping’s famous dictum ‘hide and bide’ on how rising China should deal with the outside world, helped in the transformation of its economy while also sharing the wealth with the West. Rachman noticed that the leadership of the Chinese Republic mattered to share a good diplomatic relation. Unlike Xi Jinping’s predecessors like Hu Jintao who favored the phrase ‘harmonious world’ and policy of China’s ‘peaceful rise’, Xi with his notion of ‘China Dream’ was rather an assertive nationalist willing to take action in the “win-win” globalised world.The divided rivalries between the states in Asia and the growing hostility among China and its neighbors, accompanied by the internal political problems are some drawbacks that are currently slowing the pace of the emerging Asian powers. Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe’s controversial visit to Yasukuni shrine, Abe’s 731 jet photos, and Revision of Japanese history textbooks on whitewashing the actions of Imperial Japan in WWII outraged the Chinese and the Korean. On the other hand, China showed its aggressive side by the annexation of Scarborough Shoal, declaration of nine-dashed line, South China Sea dispute and Chinese sovereignty over Senkaku Island upsetting the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan respectively. However, Rachman does underlines the Chinese economic aids received by Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand as well, in contrast to growing anti-communism in Indonesia and anti-Chinese discrimination in Malaysia. North Korea is another common threat to South Korea, Japan and China in the short run with its never-ending nuclear tests. India on a different scale, as an emerging superpower shares enmity with China over territorial dispute of Arunachal Pradesh, border issue of Aksai Chin region of J&K, China’s economic aid to India’s old enemy Pakistan and China’s ‘string of pearls’ infrastructural investment in India’s neighbors as an effort to contain India. But truth be said, India still needs to catch up a lot.To challenge the rising power of China, the US has slowly adopted a ‘strategic shift’ towards the East, what is known as American ‘pivot to Asia’. In hopes of cooperating with the changing economic and geopolitical dynamics, the Obama administration decided to rebalance its foreign policy towards Asia, strengthening its network of alliances with Asian nations such as Japan, South Korea and India.The second part of the book ‘Easternisation Beyond Asia’ describes how the process of Easternisation is transforming the politics outside Asia. With the growing inability of the West to function as a pillar of stability and power, the world is actively turning to China. Rachman noted that the Obama administration was unable to maintain the strategy of ‘pivot to Asia’ due to the turmoil in the Middle East, which has always been the ground for projection of US-led power strength. Americans were unable to share their burden with its fellow European nations, as they themselves were struggling to recover from the financial crisis of 2008. Easternisation also meant direct and indirect threats to European stability, prosperity and peace. The consequences of the financial crisis included economic instability, high inflation, growing unemployment, increasing jihadist movements/terrorism and most adverse- migrant/refugee crisis. Here, China’s Xi appeared as a lifeboat to Europe’s sinking economies, as a political inspiration for Hungary, and a striking balance between East and West for Turkey. As Rachman puts it “European powers are in precipitous decline as global political players.”No wonder China’s growing influence in Africa came as a big surprise to the West, which signified China as an emerging global power. Chris Alden remarked “China is replacing the West as the new face of globalization in Africa.” China’s two-way trade with Africa grew upon Chinese need for raw materials and Africa for new infrastructure. Similarly, Chinese influence in Latin America also grew with the considerable rise of ‘pink tide’ ie., rise of no. of left and far left governments. Economically, China was now Brazil’s largest trading partner and trade with commodity-producing countries (Argentina, Chile and Peru) boomed.On the other hand, Ukraine crisis of 2014 symbolized Russia’s determination to claim its status of a world power. Its shift towards the East also made sense when the West was indeed in terminal decline. Rachman also touched upon Russia’s identity discussion whether a European or an Asian. Israel is another country who welcomed China open-heartedly as Chinese were the only ones who never raised the issue of Palestine, unlike the West conditionality.Not only the nation states, but the international institutions reacted to this new world order as well. As noted, Rachman’s ‘world-wiring’ ie., global institutions such as United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, International Banking system, Internet, global use of currency ‘$’, British/American legal systems are all strategic properties originated from and dominated by the West. Many Asians believe that the West is inevitably biased in its own favor, which is somewhat true. He also pointed out the importance of ‘soft power’ ie., culture for global dominance.However, Rachman’s book does consist of some minor flaws and contradictory views. Although the title of the book is Easternisation, but Rachman has focused too much on the rise of China neglecting other Asian nations, particularly South Korea and South-East Asian countries(besides Singapore). Not much connection can be found with the over-description of the disasters in the Middle East with the process of Easternisation. Rachman’s contradictory views in the Conclusion section over resisting China’s rise to be pointless and recommending US to contain China until democratization, is unlikely to happen in real. Rachman states “pushing back against Chinese hegemony in the Pacific is both morally defensible and strategically feasible.” In China where the Communist Party’s control remains even above the judicial, such predictions loses its creditability.The arguments and prophecy pointed out by Rachman needs to be necessarily studied by scholars and policymakers considering the emerging new world order. Also, the wide global coverage with narrations from officials and leaders deserves a must read by all. Overall, Rachman clearly stands strong with the growing phenomenon of Easternisation, complimented by the increasing tension between US-China, European nations losing its power, and the rise of international tensions in Asia fearing the eventual occurrence of ‘Thucydides trap’. Most of all, to manage the course of Easternisation will be the biggest challenge of the 21st century.

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