Neither scientific progress nor its ability to move society forward is guaranteed. That Earth revolves around the sun seems obvious to us now, but this conclusion came about over 1000 years, taking varying paths in China and Europe. The history of astronomy in these two regions shows us how important political systems are to scientific development.
It is well known that air pollution is harmful to human health. What is much less known is how it specifically affects people over the long term. China’s Huai River policy, which dispensed free coal to northern China for winter heating, has inadvertently revealed to us that air pollution literally shaves years off our lives. But China has made considerable progress in confronting this pollution.
The Dongjiang River, which supplies fresh water to almost 40 million people, is being threatened by pollution. But as new technology parks increasingly replace pig farms and other decaying industries, there could be an opportunity to invent more sustainable solutions—for Guangdong province, Hong Kong, and the world.
The Pan-Asia Railway, meant to stretch from Kunming to Singapore, is seen by China as one of the crown jewels of its Belt and Road Initiative. While the project has seen early success in Laos, stronger Southeast Asian countries are pushing back against Beijing’s plans.
Many of the earliest of the great civilizations on Earth were centered on life-giving rivers, such as the Yangtze and the Euphrates, the Nile and the Indus. Rivers remain crucial to modern societies, but pollution is choking the life out of them. For humanity’s sake, governments must act to counter this. The good news is that they already have the tools.
Having pursued growth at all costs for decades, the world now faces widespread environmental degradation. In Japan, this is compounded by a demographic crisis driven by a shrinking population. Contrary to conventional understanding, this may actually present an opportunity for the country to work toward a more sustainable future.
Governments come and go. A country's vision or strategy tries to tie these governments' policies together to tell a story about how a country will progress economically, culturally, and socially. Auditors play a key, if little understood role, in these strategies' success. More of these plans, and the centers of government that oversee them, should be audited. Public audit reports can also attract research and practical interest in these plans' successes and failures.
Corruption has long been a prominent problem in the Asia-Pacific, but many countries have seemingly lacked the will to combat it. Until measures are enacted to increase transparency and accountability in governance, corruption will continue to gnaw away at economic gains.
China’s growing appetite for seafood has led to fundamental changes in the global fishing industry, with ramifications for regional security. With every step it takes in fishing policy, the Chinese government must balance its need for food security with environmental and diplomatic concerns.
Southeast Asians have dwindling confidence in traditional journalism. As a result, social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp have become the main source of information for voters. A combination of wider access to the internet and declining trust in longstanding news sources is changing the dynamics of democracy across the region.
The fashion industry's supply chain no longer meets the expectations of society and business stakeholders. More digitalization promises to bring more efficiency and transparency. But fashion factories must also foster an open culture that encourages learning and that engages workers in the process.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been a popular topic, and many countries have provided incentives for corporations to contribute more to the public good. China has joined such efforts as part of its campaign to achieve sustainable growth. But more coherent incentives are needed to encourage Chinese businesses to join the party.
Wealth in Asia is growing rapidly, but philanthropy has not kept pace. Governments should improve regulation and change tax and fiscal policies to make it easier for Asians and corporations to give in a systematic way. They should also ensure donations can efficiently reach organizations working to meet society’s needs.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative seems to focus on connections with Africa, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. But the country’s economic future is really in “netware” technology, similar to America’s. Contrary to how BRI is viewed and talked about now, China’s more profitable path actually points, as illuminated by the likes of Alibaba and Tencent, eastward to California.
Spearheaded by India and Japan, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor aims to improve intercontinental connectivity. But, as of now, this competing plan to China’s Belt and Road Initiative is only a proposition. To make it a reality, India and Japan must enlist the EU.
Mired in demographic crises, East Asia is looking to new reproductive technologies as a solution. But its restrictive, reluctant embrace of these technologies runs counter to evolving social attitudes.
Businesses also incur massive human and economic costs during natural disasters. They can reduce these costs by diversifying geographically and technologically.