China on the Rise? Think Again

Dr. Michael Auslin, resident scholar and director of Japanese Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), visited the University of Pennsylvania on February 4 to talk about his new book entitled, The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region.

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AEI’s Dr. Michael Auslin.

Auslin, also AEI’s specialist in Asian regional security and political issues, centered his talk around the argument he makes in his book, that China seems to be plateauing in its global influence and market-based strategy. Instead, Auslin believes we will see tremendous amounts of decline in China and other Asian countries in the coming years.

“Even if it’s not formally the end of the Asian Century, meaning that Asia is going to collapse in some way, it is certainly the end of the Asian Century in our own mindsets, and maybe that is the more important thing… What we really see when we talk about Asia is a region increasingly at risk and with different kinds of risk.”

Auslin went on to outline the risks he sees in the Indo-Pacific region such as failed economic reform, demographic risk, unfinished political revolutions, lack of political community, and threat of war. These risks are also the chapter topics in Auslin’s new book where he explains each one in greater detail.

However, Auslin noted that he is “not trying to predict anything” in the book. Rather, he seeks to diagnose the situation in Asia.

“You don’t have to predict war on the Korean Peninsula or in the South China Sea to note that the data points are leading us to the conclusion that things are getting worse. You do not have to predict economic collapse of China to say that our understanding of the Chinese miracle is probably coming to an end.”

The talk concluded with Auslin noting that, “The story and the narrative we’ve had about Asia in the last quarter century is about to change.”

Listen to some of Dr. Auslin’s commentary on China and East Asian strategy here:

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