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Can Asians Resolve Global Problems?

DAVOS – Is there an “Asian way” to resolving global challenges? The conventional answer is no. But elements of an Asian way are gradually emerging. Given Asia’s growing influence, the world should pay attention – and may have much to gain.

The key to understanding Asian approaches is their pragmatism. Asians constantly adapt and change.

In the past, Asians put a premium on protecting their sovereignty and were wary of any multilateral approaches that could dilute it. Now, in response to global challenges – for example, pandemics, financial crises, and climate change – the vast majority of Asian countries understand that collective action does not erode but instead protects sovereignty. For example, despite losing faith in the International Monetary Fund after the region’s financial crisis in 1997, they agreed to contribute billions to the IMF after the recent global financial meltdown.

There has also been another significant shift in Asian attitudes. Instead of legitimacy , or simply getting more seats at the table to provide input, the discussion in Asia is increasingly about outputs: how to create institutions that are more effective . At the same time, reflecting their pragmatism, the Asians remain ready to accept continuing American leadership and domination of global institutions. Nor do they challenge the United States-led security umbrella for the Asia-Pacific region.