Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, The University of Tokyo
The startling story unfolding since early May of the intermittent brawls between Chinese and Indian armies involving fistfights and stone-throwing at the highland border points in the Himalayas has given some relief for many observers of the international politics.
The 21st century has often been called the Asian Century since 1980s. The remarkable development in China attested to it. China’s rise has quickly eclipsed the West which has been dominating the modern world system as if it has the natural-born excellence. China’s rise has tipped the scales and shattered the myth of the superiority of the West.
The center of gravity of the world political economy has since long time ago started to shift to the East irreversibly. As someone from Asia, I sincerely congratulate this achievement.
However, if the Asian Century is going to be a Chinese Century, the future might not be so blight or desirable. More and more countries are gradually becoming anxious with the reverberations of the over-confident China and its behaviour. It might be called “China fatigue” in which many countries which have been cooperating and benefiting from China’s economic rise are now feeling uneasiness in continuing its relationship with China the same as before. Those hesitant countries are not limited to the former western masters of dominance, but many neighbors of China in Asia.
Even for the so-called “Panda huggers,” who have been usually supportive or China’s positions and its inclusion into the world system, the recent rise of assertiveness and overconfidence on the side of China are difficult to handle with. The fully grown-up giant panda is not so attractive when it starts to show the fierce face of nature creature.
For many China neighbors, it might be natural to search for an alternative power to hedge and counterbalance the over-dominance of China. The US might not be that alternative since no one is willing to be dragged in the US-China trade war.
We are certain that we need China for the rest of the 21st century but we also need Asia Other Than China.
Nowadays, more and more people are looking at India for the possible alternative, even when India’s means to confront China’s pressure and encroachment is the most primitive but civilizational one, the bare fist.