Power, money and politics is going East

As Malaysia has a new government since independence, our decade-old Look East Policy is been revived under the tutelage of Dr. Mahathir. Why is this shift in policy important for average malaysian now?

2018 marks the year when USA and China starts trade war, in which both countries apply tariffs to each other country’s manufactured goods. As the war entails, trade volume between the two countries are expected to decrease significantly. Therefore, the world expects 2019 to be a year of slower trade and weaker market sentiments.

One wonders if USA knows something that other countries of the world do not.

Power

When we mean power going East, it meant China. Asia has traditionally been dominated by Japan, followed by Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore etc. In recent times, China has lapsed all of them to become the world second-largest economy. Many companies have since shifted to the needs of chinese and asians in general. This paradigm shift in consumer preference fulfillment is an indication that companies is starting to take heed of the consumer needs in Asia as their purchasing power increases.

Recently, Dolce and Gabbana had a fallout with China when one of its promotional video insulted the tradition of chopsticks in China. Adding fuel to the fire is the instagram post by D&G founder, Steffano Gabbana Instagram post in which he called China a country of Shit.

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When these news came out, D&G had to release a series of press to apologise and defuse the situation. However, the damage has been done. Almost all D&G products have been pulled off the shelves in China and their reputation will never recover from this. Wearing a D&G shirt in china will risk being thrown poo.

Big companies have to bow to the pressure of consumer power in Asia. For example, Apple has bowed to pressure to introduce big screen phones as Asians want big phones. Movies are been produced to fit the taste of movie goers in Asia and more inputs are seeked from asian producers than ever before. All these were absent 10 years ago from Hollywood studios.

Power of the rising Asia is imminent. It is only inevitable that Western powers will have to compromise if they want to have anything to do with any Asian economic participation. Trade war between USA and China is already having spill-over effects into countries like New Zealand, Australia and UK as they are starting to implement ban on Huawei and ZTE for 5G technology roll-out. This is a clear sign that USA is trying to influence its allies to block the expansion of Asian companies into western countries on the excuse of national security fears.

As these kind of policies start to roll out from US-allied countries, we will definitely see more efforts in building up trade within the Asian continent. As for all asian countries, we need to come together during this period of retribution. What once used to be the advocate of a free market economy has now become a protectionist economy because it benefits them. Our eyes have to be opened to the reality of the world order. We should not be myopic and seek short term solutions, rather we have to look at the big picture and know that the world has always been manipulated by certain quarters of people.

Money

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This list used to only have a single Asian nation in it. Even so, it is a post war nation: Japan. Now in 2018, we have 3 Asian nations in the top 10 biggest economies in the world. As China and India’s middle income population starts to grow exponentially in the next decade, the world’s financial system will shift towards Asia.

Even the population is on our side.

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60% of the world is not small. Our world views and opinions should not be disregarded. Yes, most of our population are living in poverty and are uneducated but that does not mean that we are stupid. Asians should come together under East Asia Caucus or any form of grouping to increase our chances of surviving the tit-for-tat trade war. The trade war is the start of policy shift that will change the whole world.

In summary, USA is asking that “Money In” has to be the same as “Money Out”. If that does not happen, they will use tariffs and other measures to make sure the imports will decrease to the point where they achieve their purpose. This squeezes the profits out of Chinese companies and therefore limits their growth directly. They also will take measure to influence other countries to do the same.

USA has forgotten that Asia has been importing their goods for many centuries. Trades have always been imbalance when they started their preach about free market economy. Asia has never been able to do anything against US companies because we are dependent on their unique market position. All these while, Money has been flowing into USA and western countries. When cheap exports from China are starting to affect them, they complain it is unfair.

Like it or not, we are dependent on chinese goods now. More so than ever. Their quality and price has become so good that even western companies appoint them to be the manufacturer for their OEM products. That would not change in the near future. You can vilify them but you will still use them as your suppliers.

The big test will be the policies Asia is making to keep bowing to USA pressures or to grow up. With a bit of money, the East should at least grow up.

Politics

The western nations are starting to warn against espionage by Eastern nations, specifically China and Russia. As Japan and South Korea are considered allies to the USA, the representative of Asia is really only China and upcoming India.

Asian nations are no where near the development status of western nations. To claim that certain new technologies like 5G can be used to control certain countries is saying that a third world can lead a developed country in introducing new technology.

These are politics at play. The dominant does not want to lose its precarious position as number 1. While we cannot control what other nations think and do, we are definitely able to defend our rights and our own sovereignty.

Asia as a whole historically has been bullied. Look at World War 2, even though China is one of its winning nation, She is treated as not. South East Asia has been colonials for many Western powers eg. Portugal, Spain, Britain and USA. Proxy wars have been fought in Vietnam and Korea, dividing countries and produce suffering until modern times. Asia has been through a lot of suffering and misfortune. Why do we let such a beautiful place be subjected to treatments such as these?

Politics is inevitable but it is about time Asia grow up and starts to protect ourselves. Be it a collective effort or under a single larger nation, we need to be able to stand up for ourselves, be self sufficient and survive without the needs of depending on others.

Asia needs to be one.

Written by

Sarawak Blogger

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