Minxin Pei correctly notes that China, despite its growing importance, will not be dominant anytime soon if ever, either in the world or in Asia, and that a number of negative factors could slow or even halt the rise of Asia's developing countries.
But surely, anyone can see that the United States' relative power and influence in Asia has declined and will continue to decline. The loss of relative U.S. power is partly due to East Asia's pragmatic economic model, which flexibly mixes government and private resources and incentives. With its false, debt-driven growth subtracted, U.S. performance over the last 20 or 30 years is revealed as inferior to that of all Asian countries including Japan, with its much-mourned "lost decade."
It also seems indisputable that all of the fast growth in Asia outside India has taken place under authoritarian or, in the case of Japan, bureaucrat-dominated political systems. Indeed, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan all began to falter as their political systems became less authoritarian. It must be stated that in many democratic developing countries there is democracy fatigue, and the soft authoritarian approach of Singapore or even the more muscular Chinese model has appeal. It's no surprise that in Latin America, where the so-called "Washington Consensus" has produced very little growth, the only thing anyone wants to know is how China and India are doing it.
It may be comforting to believe that the U.S. political system will self-correct, but there is just as much reason to think that the United States will not recover because of the increasing intractability of its politics, dominated as they are by powerful, well-financed interest groups.
So, yes, a little contrarianism might be in order regarding the inevitable rise and dominance of Asia, but please: not too much.
Economic Strategy Institute
Click Here to Read the Letter and Response at Foreign Policy.