With bombs in Bulgaria, war in Syria, murder in Colorado and meltdowns in Europe, it’s easy to forget that the most important world events are taking place in Asia, where the US, China and assorted other countries are hammering out the shape of a new Asian order. (Some days they hammer together, some days they mostly hammer on each other. But either way, a new Asia is taking shape.)Whether these efforts succeed, and whether the US, China, Japan, India and a dozen other interested parties can work out a combination of economic, political and security understandings that enable everyone to prosper and grow in the next fifty years almost certainly matters much more to the world than anything that happens in Europe or the Middle East.The dramatic events of the last 24 hours have driven the Asia story off the front pages of most western papers, but the consequences of the ASEAN meeting in Cambodia are still rippling through the region. China has been pushing back, hard, against the US “pivot”, and political tensions are high within and between countries from Vladivostok to Delhi. Chinese naval ships and fishing vessels are stepping up activities throughout the disputed region, and there are reports of intense pressure being exerted on countries to side with Beijing in the dispute.Via Meadia is going to continue to follow this Asian story; for today we suggest that our readers take a look at an important essay that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has published in the British New Statesman magazine. She begins:
I touched down in Beijing in May for the fourth round of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue with a jam-packed agenda, but the world’s attention was focused instead on the fate of a blind human rights dissident who had sought refuge in the American embassy. Suddenly, an already delicate trip had become an outsized test of the US-China relationship.Throughout history, the rise of new powers usually has played out in zero-sum terms. So it is not surprising that the emergence of countries such as China, India and Brazil has raised questions about the future of the global order that the United States, the United Kingdom and our allies have helped build and defend. Against this backdrop, those few days in May took on even greater significance: could the US and China write a new answer to the old question of what happens when an established power and rising power meet?
Read the whole thing. History is happening in Asia today, and the American people — policy elites and regular voters — need to launch a national discussion and debate over just what we should do. It would be a terrible shame if the Asia debate doesn’t figure into the presidential campaign. Governor Romney and President Obama need to get beyond “tough with China on trade” boilerplate and tell the country what they think is happening in Asia, what it means for our future, and what the United States needs to do to prepare for the main event of the next fifty years.