Following World War II, the global economy moved rapidly toward further integration. Now, this process has stopped, and is in fact reversing itself. With countries increasingly engaging in economic nationalism, massive changes are coming, for economies big and small.
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.
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.
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.
As demand for documented migrant labor has risen across Asia, smugglers have been replaced with migration brokers, who utilize and manage webs of relationships to send workers abroad. With knowledge of both the intricacies of bureaucracy and the informal world of local communities, they are an essential part of the international migration infrastructure.
The age of AI and automation is upon us. This may be music to the ears of technologists, businesses, and investors, but Asia’s factory workers will be severely affected when computers and robots take over labor-intensive jobs. To help workers navigate the new economy, governments and businesses should invest in social safety net programs and education.
Their environment leaves them little space for personal expression, but Hong Kong’s domestic workers have found ways to engage in politics and pursue their own paths of leadership.
Among the many unacknowledged examples of “Asia the global” is the inspiration Western second-wave feminism derived from revolutionary China. Though not wholly influenced by Chinese ideas, second-wave feminism found in aspects of revolutionary China an ideological and practical model.
Global economies seem to be doing reasonably well in the face of an array of potentially destabilizing political issues. But this may not last if we do not tackle a non-inclusive pattern of growth and do more to address the needs of people and societies.
Professor Peter Mathieson, president and vice-chancellor of The University of Hong Kong, shares his thoughts on the nature of leadership, with lessons both universal and particular to different contexts.