How Asia's rise is shaping the future of communications
by Oliver Stelling
Wed 07 July 2021
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The Asian Century has been predicted for decades and is here now. Cities, regions and entire nations from West to East Asia are rapidly modernizing. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being invested in infrastructure, AI and other tech, renewable energy, healthcare, jobs and education. And it's not just replacing the old but upgrading to world standards. Many of these investments have become drivers of inclusive growth as well as regional and global integration.
The Asian development model of fast, export-driven industrialization has clearly worked. Pioneered by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, it was later adopted and rapidly expanded by China, now the world’s second largest economy. India has been one of just 18 outperforming emerging economies to achieve robust and consistent high growth over three decades. Meanwhile Singapore and Hong Kong established themselves as Asia’s principal financial centers. Malaysia has become known for its highly diversified economy and early adoption of cutting-edge technology for manufacturing. And the UAE’s focus on forecasting the future turned the country into a regional and global hub for innovation in everything from tourism and trade to smart cities, professional services and events.
Being home to 61% of the world's population the trajectory seemed clear: the future is Asian. But then came Covid19 and the rise in tensions between the U.S. and China. This appears to have convinced some observers that Asia’s rise may not last much longer. But the underlying economic and demographic factors that enabled Asia’s rise haven’t changed. The resurgence of this vast continent of 4.7 billion people is in fact accelerating, creating new spheres of influence and greater connectivity.
In late 2020, fifteen Asian-Pacific nations formed the world's largest trading bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), covering nearly one third of the global economy. RCEP is on track to become the world's largest export supplier and second-largest import destination.
That spells opportunity for an accelerated global economic recovery and deepened ties. For anyone doing business in or with Asia and for Asian entities with vested interests overseas, now is the time to revisit long held beliefs and assumptions.
"The task at hand is strategic but that's no excuse for delays. Progress won't wait until the last doubters are on board."
Communicators have a special role to play as audiences are better connected than ever. The way we interact with one another, the tools and channels we use and the content we share, all that has already changed dramatically. Take WeChat, TikTok, Waygo and Zoom. Invented by Asians, these apps have transformed our lives in the shortest span of time. And there is more. Purpose and shared values take center stage in any environment where rapid, disruptive change has become the new normal, especially in the Covid and coming post-Covid era. Together, this elevates the role of all communications functions and triggers a rise in demand for new content, audience segmentation and engagement strategies as well as greater transparency and a renewed focus on public diplomacy.
As the world is changing before our eyes, answers are needed right now. For those actively engaged with Asia, an understanding of the economies and politics is a given. The distinguishing feature however is having a solid grasp on history and the socio-cultural context. It clarifies motivations and rationales, which translates to better communications and competitive advantage. The task at hand is strategic but that's no excuse for delays. Progress won't wait until the last doubters are on board. The better choice is to quickly embrace Shenzhen Speed & Dubai Spirit.