The booth introducing the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Zone, among over 2800 enterprises from over 30 countries attending the ongoing 16th China-ASEAN Expo held in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, has attracted numerous visitors.
Rayong, a small city on the northern coast of the Gulf of Thailand, is probably the wealthiest town of the country. It’s annual per capita income is approximately 35,000 U.S. dollars and it hosts more than 1,000 international corporations as well as renowned industrial zones.
It is difficult to imagine how it had been repeatedly involved in major wars during the past century.
From being transformed into a military harbour during World War I, to having to accommodate Japanese and U.S. warships during World War II, to becoming a U.S. bomber base during the Vietnam War… the fishing port had suffered from the wounds inflicted by these devastating wars until local people said “no” to the Americans when they wanted to use the airport here as a strategic stronghold under former U.S. President Barack Obama’s “Asia pivot.”
Rayong is the epitome of the rise of Asia. The size of the Asian economy, the weight of its words and the quality of its values have become the most active factors in changing global geopolitics and economy.
Asia’s rise constitutes a significant part of the profound changes unseen in a century that the world faces.
In the 19th century, Europe treated Asia as the “opposite of civilisation,” which used Asia’s backwardness and economic stagnation to highlight its advancement and economic development.
But now is a totally different picture. “Of the world’s 30 largest cities, 21 are in Asia … Asian economies, as defined by the UN trade and development body UNCTAD, will be larger than the rest of the world combined in 2020,” said a report titled “The Asian century is set to begin” released by the London-headquartered daily newspaper Financial Times in March.
Asia has had an increasingly stronger voice as her economies grow larger.
The world could barely hear a whimper from Asia prior to World War I. It is in 1955 at the Asian-African Conference, also known as the Bandung Conference, in Indonesia that the Asian and African countries which made their voices heard for the first time.
Over the following half-century, Asian nations actively expressed their opinions at the United Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the BRICS summit, the Group of 20 (G20) summit and other platforms, with the Asian way of thinking and experience attracting more and more attention from the rest of the world.
Over the past years, China has proposed the Belt & Road Initiative, making its concepts of interconnectivity, openness and inclusiveness, and win-win cooperation spread across the globe
Asian values always feature “harmony and coexistence” openness, inclusiveness, beneficial to all, balance, and win-win cooperation.
In May, the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations was held in Beijing. The primary function was to tap new potential from the perspective of civilisation, to promote cooperation from the height of civilisation, and to reflect on the future from the dimension of civilisation.
“Rather than being backwards-looking, navel gazing and pessimistic, billions of Asians are forward looking, outward looking and optimistic,” international relations expert Parag Khanna said in his report titled “Welcome to the Asian century,” adding that “Asia’s rise is structural, not cyclical.”