Magazine article Literary Review of Canada

Re: "The Myth of Chindia," by Jonathan Holslag

Magazine article Literary Review of Canada

Re: "The Myth of Chindia," by Jonathan Holslag

Article excerpt

This thoughtful review by a security analyst calls for responses to two points. First, Gravity Shift: How Asia's New Economic Powerhouses Will Shape the Twenty-First Century is too rosy? The sources-of-growth framework not only brings out the different drivers of long-term growth in the two very different economies (trivialized by the Chindia hype) but also identifies serious obstacles to long-term success, contrary to the reviewer's impression. Second, the review misses the profound change in governments' recognition, in Asia and beyond, that the route to power and influence lies through economic development and reform rather than territorial expansion and military destruction. Economic reforms, growth and integration are positive sum-everyone can gain by cooperating and exploiting the gains from specialization and trade. My analysis shows potential gains from a bilateral trade agreement, but that does not mean it will happen. It illustrates the basic point that, as economic ties deepen and entrepreneurs specialize to exploit the gains from trade, shooting at each other risks shooting oneself in the foot. Even so, throughout Asia nationalist factions argue with internationalists at home and governments jostle for position and influence abroad.

Possibilities for rivalry and conflict are undeniable and flashpoints exist that obsess defence elites, but Holslag overlooks the shift that has already constrained China's behaviour and plays an important role in my long-term analysis. Speculation that China and India will succumb to military adventurism or allow their economic relationship to be overwhelmed by political tensions and mistrust belittles this shift. …

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