The Asia-Pacific century
THE Asia-Pacific region is considered as one of the most important regions on the global map. Asia Pacific region mainly consists of East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Western Pacific Ocean and Oceania.
As there is no exact definition or area defined but this political term changes by the states according to their own national interests and need.
The significance of this region is primarily economic but due to the serious interest of major powers such as the United States of America, Russia, China and other developing state’s, it gains more importance. This region also confronts many major issues but the region is also resource-rich.
It is also said that the twenty-first century would be the “Asia-Pacific Century.”
The region is characterized by a larger population and stronger economic growth than any other, a rich diversity of both socio-economic and natural environment, and an abundance of natural resources including tropical rain forests and marine products.
The Asia-Pacific region is becoming a larger player in the global economy. This region is home to about half of the world’s population.
China and India, alone have a combined population of around 2.8 billion, are evidently two economic hubs. Other countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam have also large numbers of consumers and investors.
On the other hand, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states have more than 622 million people.
The numbers are even more impressive in economic terms. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for almost 39 per cent to the global market.
With over 21 economies, having a GDP which comprises about 56 per cent of the world’s economic output, the Asia Pacific region has become the key engine for the global economy.
Moreover, it also comprises some of the most dynamic economies in the world. The Asia-Pacific region as a whole, remains diverse in terms of standards of living.
The region, which has immense potential, is contributing to global prosperity.The countries of the region are at various levels of economic growth.
While China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Singapore are categorized as highly industrialized countries, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan and Vietnam are regarded as low-income countries.
Whereas Indonesia and the Philippines could be categorized as middle-income countries, and Thailand and Malaysia be as high-income countries.
Some of the largest cities in the world can also be found in the Asia-Pacific region such as Tokyo, New Delhi, Shanghai, Dhaka, Mumbai, New York, Beijing, Bangkok, Los Angeles and Kolkata, etc.
These cities have grown considerably in size in recent years as a result of profound economic transformation and massive migrations from rural areas. Most of the busiest airports of the world are also operational in this region.Another major industry in the Asia-Pacific region is the Ship Industry.
This shipbuilding industry of 43 billion dollars enjoys a 66 per cent global market share. Ship repairing and maintenance is valued at US$15 billion which is 45 per cent at the international level.
Shanghai Port is considered as one of the biggest ports in this region which handles about 600 million tonnes of goods.
The Strait of Malacca in this region has been part of major shipping routes since the earliest days of trade between the Middle East and China.
While the Strait of Malacca remains crucial for shipping, it is not ideal. Bordered by three nations—Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia the strait can be subject to international disagreements.
The significance of this region can be seen as the world superpower USA shifted its policy from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific.
With this tectonic shift in the world economy and the rapid rise of China, the first Obama administration in the latter half of 2011, announced that the US would be stepping up its role in the Asia-Pacific region.
The former US President Obama was known as the first Pacific-President. Obama stated that the US is going to play a leadership role in Asia for decades to come.
As the US rebalancing strategy demands an enhancement of US diplomatic activism within the Asia-Pacific region.
The formation of new partnerships and alliances remains to be one of the major agendas of the rebalance, as they continue to be crucial in handling traditional security challenges and primary to tackling non-traditional security challenges in the region.
Asia Pacific region has its own significance not only in the field of politics and economics but also as a great historical, cultural and ethnic diverse region.
Due to the emergence of China which also raises the question, “Will China overthrow the existing order or become a part of it”?
—The writer is a journalist based in Islamabad.