Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bill Emmott's "Rivals"

Bill Emmott is a writer, speaker and consultant on global affairs, with an expertise in Asia. Until 2006 he was editor in chief of The Economist, where his thirteen-year tenure was marked by many awards. He has published eight books and writes regularly for several international publications.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade, and reported the following:
One page cannot of course be representative of a book’s substance and argument, but page 99 of Rivals does give a good sense of the approach and style that I have tried to use. My belief is that you cannot understand a society and its politics without also understanding its history and its economics; and that to understand Asia’s super-achievers in China and India it is essential also to look at Japan and other East Asian success stories, for Japan pioneered the paths that China and India are now following.

Thus, page 99 identifies some common aspects in the way Japan and China have been, and are, governed, even though one is a democracy and the other an authoritarian, nominally communist, regime. Elsewhere, I ask a former Japanese foreign minister what I should make of the recurrent tensions between China and Japan and he responds with a laugh: “China and Japan have hated each other for a thousand years. Why should it be any different now?” And yet there is also a lot that they have in common: their bureaucratic systems, their economic models, their environmental experiences.

The overall argument of Rivals is that Asia now needs to be understood both as a hotbed of political and economic competition—this is the first time in history when it has had three great powers all at the same time—and as an increasingly integrated continent. Japan’s growth was the big story of the first 80 years of the 20th century; China’s emergence has been the big story of the past 25 years; but now India’s emergence, as a trading and manufacturing giant, looks likely to be the most important development of this decade and beyond. Not because it is going to overtake China, you understand. But rather because it sets up Asia’s new three-way power game, in which the United States will be a concerned but also active outside player.
Read an excerpt from Rivals, and learn more about the author and his work at Bill Emmott's website.

--Marshal Zeringue