In the West, during the last 7-8 years, interest in Asia has surged. Many are referring to China as a potential challenger of Western hegemony, and since the term was coined in 2004 politicians, analysts and enthusiastic headlines alike have been referring to the “Beijing Consensus” as an alternative to the Washington Consensus. Meanwhile India, although lagging behind its neighbour China, is still the only country which can be compared in terms of population, economic prospect or future potential. Now an economic success story, India is also beginning to make its voice heard on the international, as opposed to just the regional stage.
So why has Asia, and in particular China and India, become so important? I’ve been asking myself that question for a while, and looking at it I think that part of the answer is really just that simple.
Asia is the largest continent in the world, bigger even than North and South America put together. It is also the most densely populated. Very soon, the world is set to hit a landmark 7 billion inhabitants. Out of the 10 most populous countries 7 of them are in Asia, which with an excess of 4 billion people is the world’s most populous continent. That is roughly 60 % of the entire population of the world. To give a further sense of proportion, Africa is the second most populous continent just shy of one billion. China and India, with populations of well over a billion each, together constitute about 37 % of the entire population of the world.
I will keep scratching my head, but I think I’ve at least figured out the core reason why China and India are gaining importance. It seems inevitable, really.