The clash between China and the USA over the crashed spy plane has thrown into sharp relief the tensions between the great powers in Asia. The incident in itself was an accident. But dialectics explains that necessity can be expressed through accident. Underlying the immediate incident lie fundamental contradictions between China and the USA.
Before 1939, US, Japanese and European imperialism vied with each other for the control and plunder of China. In the end, the struggle reduced itself to a titanic struggle between the USA and Japan for control of the Pacific and above all China. US imperialism succeeded in its bid to dominate Asia and turn the Pacific into an American lake, much as the Romans succeeded in turning the Mediterranean into a Roman lake. However, the aims of US imperialism were frustrated by the Chinese Revolution of 1949. Its puppet Chiang Kai Shek was forces to flee to the island of Taiwan (Formosa), which for decades was recognised by Washington as "the real China".
From then onwards, American policy in the Pacific was dictated by the need to contain China and stop the advance of "Communism". This led to a series of wars. The Korean war led to a stalemate and the division of Korea into North and South, leaving behind an unresolved problem and a future source of conflict in Asia. The biggest blow to US imperialism took place in Vietnam, where, for the first time in its history, the USA was defeated by a barefoot peasant army. regimes of proletarian Bonapartism were established in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. US imperialism was forced onto the defensive. Avoiding all direct military action on the mainland of Asia, it concentrated in building military alliances to contain the advance of Russian and Chinese influence in Asia. Nevertheless, important countries like India, in effect, supported the Russian Bureaucracy and became a Soviet sphere of influence.
Fall of the USSR
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the USA, with its colossal economic and military potential, has exercised complete domination. None of its rivals can stand up to it. On a world scale, Washington would like peace - a Pax Americana - that is to say: peace on America's terms. Yet, as Trotsky predicted, US imperialism has dynamite built into its foundations. The crisis of world capitalism finds its reflections in growing economic, social, diplomatic and military instability on a world scale. These contradictions are destined to intensify in the next period, producing a series of wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions.
For the last 300 years, there has never been a situation where one great power dominated the whole world. There were always at least two or three great powers, competing for dominance. Since 1945, the USA was balanced by Russia and China, with the European powers and Japan playing a subordinate role in world affairs. The fall of USSR substantially modified the balance of forces on a world scale, and particularly in Asia. It has created an entirely new situation on a global scale: a correlation of forces never before seen in history. Never before has a single power enjoyed such apparently unlimited power in the world. Not even the Roman empire had such a crushing dominance.
With limitless power comes overbearing arrogance. No sooner had George W. Bush entered the White House than he ordered the bombardment of Iraq. This act was senseless from a military point of view. Although Washington alleged that Iraq represented a threat to "peace" and to the USA, even a blind person could see that Iraq, pulverised by American bombs, humiliated by the "no-fly" zones and ruined by a decade of economic blockade, represents no threat to the USA. The bombing was not a military but a political act. Here was a very clear statement to the peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world: "Do as we say, or we will bomb you!" Better than anything else, this naked act of aggression encapsulates the nature of US imperialism.
The new occupant of the White House, apart from his extreme ignorance and obtuseness, differs in no essential respect from his predecessors. Already before Bush, American imperialism had embarked on a policy of intervening everywhere, ignoring all rules of sovereignty, and treating the whole world as America's backyard. George W. Bush merely took over the existing policy, investing it with the crudeness and narrowness which are the hallmarks of his world outlook. During the election campaign, Bush swore that under his Presidency America would withdraw from the world stage to attend to its own affairs. This was what one might expect, since the Republicans historically favoured non-interventionism ("isolationism"). But once elected, Bush has immediately done the opposite, stepping up America's involvement in the Middle East, Latin America and the Pacific.
Such contradictions do not bother President Bush, who, as a typical know-nothing provincial politician, is not unduly concerned with formal logic - or, come to that, with thinking in general. Being motivated purely by short-term empirical considerations, Bush has decided that by banging the drum on foreign policy, he stands a good chance of distracting the electorate from the dark clouds that are gathering round the US economy. Perhaps he is also anxious to appear as a statesman of world stature. If so, he could not have picked a worse country to provoke than China.
The insolent tone adopted by Washington at the beginning of the crisis soon had to be modified. Having been caught in the act of spying off China' shores, and having caused the destruction of one Chinese plane and the death of its pilot, the Americans had the temerity to demand that the Chinese should not board their grounded aircraft - now sitting in Chinese national territory - but treat it with the respect due to an embassy! The Chinese naturally treated this unprecedented demand with the contempt it richly deserved. They returned the crew - whom they treated with respect - but have so far kept the US spy plane, which they will obviously not relinquish until it has given up all its secrets.
Even western commentators could see the sheer hypocrisy in the posturing of Washington. If a Chinese plane had flown close to America's shores and had caused the death of an American pilot, one can just imagine the howl of indignation that would have ensued. The blustering threats of the Americans yielded no results, except to further offend the Chinese and inflame anti-American sentiments. Not since the bombing of the US embassy in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo conflict has there been such a wave of anti-US anger and demonstrations in China. Belatedly aware of the potential damage to trade with China, the Bush administration changed its tune. The President sent a letter of "regret" to the mother of the dead pilot. This was as near to a formal apology as one could expect from this source.
China and the limits of US power
Long ago Napoleon likened China to a sleeping dragon, and warned that when this dragon awoke, it would make the world tremble. The Chinese Revolution brought the multi-million Chinese people to its feet and broke the vicious circle of backwardness and lethargy that had paralysed the might of China for millennia. The nationalised planned economy - despite the criminal policies, corruption, waste and bungling of the ruling Stalinist-Maoist Bureaucracy - dragged China out of backwardness and laid the foundations for the economic transformation of the country. The massive gains in production, industry, science and technology made possible by a nationalised planned economy also transformed China from a weak semi-colonial country, robbed and humiliated by foreign imperialists, into a formidable military power. There could be no question of the USA or any other country reducing China to colonial slavery as in the past. China thus represents the limits of US power in the Pacific.
In the course of the last 20 years, the integration of China in world trade has increased with seven-league boots. Both China and America are interested in developing trade. For the big US monopolies, the prospect of developing the China market presents an alluring perspective of profits. They represent the China lobby in Washington, which is anxious to prevent a deterioration of US-China relations which would endanger their interests. For its part, China wants to develop its economy and technology as quickly as possible. This is a matter of life or death for a country that needs to achieve a rate of growth of at least eight percent each year to prevent the growth of unemployment. Therefore, neither Washington nor Beijing wishes to bring matters to an open break.
At every step, China's vital interests in Asia clash with those of the United States. The contradictions have been manifested in a series of incidents that have hampered the establishment of normal relations between the two countries. There was a serious clash over the Tien an Men Square massacre in 1989. In 1996 there was the crisis over the lobbing of Chinese missiles close to Taiwan. In 1999, there was the crisis over the American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia. Given the existence of conflicting interests in a whole series of areas, incidents like these will continue to occur at regular intervals. But given the balance of forces, they will not lead to open war between China and the USA. In such an eventuality, the USA could not defeat China, and China could not defeat the USA. Therefore, each crisis will end in a compromise.
Above all, the problem of Taiwan, which Beijing still regards as a rebel province which must rejoin the Motherland, remains as an ulcer that poisons relations. Washington is pledged to come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of hostilities, and there is a vocal pro-Taiwan lobby in Congress, especially in the ranks of Mr. Bush's party. There is a lot of bluff on both sides. It is not at all clear that the US could defend Taiwan successfully against an all-out attack from China. But the threat of US military intervention is always present, and it is doubtful that Beijing would want to take the risk. But the situation remains explosive. Both China and Taiwan are arming to the teeth. Washington continues to arm Taiwan - which recently held full-scale military manoeuvres, obviously directed against China - with the most modern weaponry. The Taiwanese are pressing the Americans to equip their armed forces with the latest missile defence systems - a prospect that enrages the Chinese.
At the end of the day, both sides have so much to lose that the Chinese will probably have to reach some kind of a deal with the Taiwanese capitalists, who are already investing in China. There will be a lot of noise on the diplomatic front as both sides seek to gain an advantage over the other. But, at least in the short term, it will probably not lead to war. Nevertheless, in the realm of international politics, relations do not remain fixed for long. With every passing day, China is expanding her economic and military power. This has important long-term implications for Asia and the world. Although it suits the ruling Bureaucracy in Beijing to seek a modus vivendi with Washington as a means of obtaining the technological know-how and capital it needs to build up its economy, it is under no illusions that, sooner or later, a clash with America is inevitable. For the present, the incident of the spy plane is closed, and China has won on points. But in the future there will be new flash points in the struggle of China and America to dominate this decisive part of the globe.
China and Russia
Together with trade and investment in Asia has come a new intensification of the struggle for markets, raw materials and spheres of influence in the Pacific. In this struggle, the key players are China, the USA and Japan, although the Australian and European capitalists and their governments are also pushing for a share in the spoils. In the past the USA (under both Democratic and Republican administrations) dreamed of developing the China market. This mirage is still before their eyes, But whereas before the War, they thought that they could dominate China, this is no longer the case. China is too strong to be trifled with. That is the message of the recent events.
The development of explosive contradictions in the Pacific is shown by the arms race that affects most countries in the region. China itself is busy increasing its military strength. It has recently announced an increase of 18 percent on military expenditure. This is a big increase on the 10 percent increases of the past period, which themselves caused alarm among China's neighbours. Ominously, China's military modernisation programme, which hitherto laid stress on the air warfare capabilities of the People's Liberation Army, now focuses on expanding its naval potential.
Although the Chinese navy is still only a shadow of that of the US, it is growing all the time and developing into a serious force equipped with fast-attack patrol boats, new destroyers, new attack submarines, anti-ship missiles and aircraft carriers capabilities which represent a direct challenge to US naval domination in the Pacific. Its submarines and anti-ship missiles could endanger US aircraft carriers and prevent access by US forces to key areas such as the Taiwan Straits. Such developments must cause great concern in the Pentagon. In response, the US navy is constructing a new land-attack destroyer, the USS Zumwalt class. The activities of American spy planes near China's coast is part of the same strategy, to keep an eye on the Chinese military: the movement of its submarines, the launching of its missiles. This kind of activity is not that of friendly states, but more like two boxers, cautiously eyeing each other, probing to find a weak spot before a fight.
This does not mean that war between China and the USA is an immediate prospect. A war with China, apart from militarily problematical, would be politically very risky. It would provoke anti-American demonstrations all over Asia, and would be unpopular inside the USA. From an economic point of view, it would be disastrous. At a time when the US economy - and with it the whole world - is facing recession, the importance of the Chinese market is self-evident. Not only does it provide potentially a huge outlet for US goods and investment, but the inflow of cheap Chinese goods (not just textiles, but also microchips) has helped dampen inflation in the USA. In fact, one observer reckoned that many of the electronic components inside the US spy-plane were probably manufactured in China!
Faced with such a powerful antagonist, China must look around for allies. After decades of conflict between Russia and China, the rulers in Moscow and Beijing are beginning to draw closer. Putin's visit to Beijing will be followed by closer collaboration on the military and diplomatic front. The domination of US imperialism is bitterly resented in both countries. The outline of a future anti-American bloc, composed by Russia, China, India and Iran, is already visible. It will take place gradually, over a period of years, and will not be a smooth process. China does not want to be dominated by America or Russia, and will attempt to play one off against the other for its own benefit - now tilting towards one, now swinging back to the other. But ultimately the logic of events will drive China into the arms of Russia.
The link with Russia will provide China with access to a huge arsenal of weapons and equipment. In the last analysis, China may gain access to Russia's nuclear arsenal. This is a prospect that fills Washington with the deepest foreboding. That is another reason why it will try to avoid a direct confrontation with Beijing - for example over the spy plane issue. Although China's failure to release the plane has provoked fury in the Pentagon, the Americans know that, if they push China too hard, the Russians would be the ones to gain. They are therefore compelled to manoeuvre. They try to press Beijing, but dare not press too hard.
Uncertain prospects for capitalism
Unable to challenge China directly, the American ruling class attempts to gain its objectives by other means. A section of the US capitalists - particularly those with economic interests inside China - argue that by investing in China and binding her ever more securely to the world market, they can strengthen the hand of that wing of the Bureaucracy (the "reformers") which wants to hasten the transition to capitalism. In this way they hope to get a more pliable (and weaker) regime in Beijing, over which they could exert pressure.
Although China has moved a long way towards capitalism over the past twenty, and particularly the last ten years, the transition is by no means complete. A large part of the economy still remains in the hands of the state, especially the key sector of heavy industry. True, there are thriving pockets of capitalism, mainly on the coastal areas and in Hong Kong, and these are growing in importance. But, unlike Russia, where the Bureaucracy foolishly accepted the advice from the West to move rapidly to dismantle the state owned sector, the Chinese Bureaucracy has moved cautiously, privatising in piecemeal fashion, while maintaining a firm grip on the levers of power.
In recent years China has enjoyed a high rate of growth. Even now it has a rate of growth of seven percent. But this has another side. The movement in the direction of capitalism has engendered colossal social dislocation. Unemployment is around 150 million. There is huge and growing inequality, both in the cities and villages. Tens of millions of poor people have poured into the cities in search of work. In capitalist enterprises - frequently owned by foreigners - they are subjected to the most brutal exploitation for very low wages. Unbearable pressure is put on housing and the infrastructure. Such conditions, which recall those of the Russian working class a hundred years ago, are a breeding-ground for revolution.
This is not 1949. After decades of economic growth, the Chinese working class now numbers at least 200 million. The revolutionary potential of this gigantic proletariat is self-evident. There have been big strikes and demonstrations in the cities of China in recent years, and also disturbances in the villages and a ferment in the minority nationalities (The Tibetans, Mongols, Uighurs, etc. ) This explains why Beijing has concentrated all its energies on developing the economy. The Bureaucracy does not want conflicts outside China that can have negative repercussions inside the country. It would prefer to avoid a clash with America, which, apart from being an important source of modern technology, is a major market for Chinese exports. China has a big trade surplus with the USA.
The future of capitalism in China is by no means certain. The Bureaucracy itself is split between a pro-capitalist wing and a "conservative" wing that fears the consequences of social instability that flow from capitalism. While some sections of the Bureaucracy have enriched themselves, the majority have gained little or nothing from the market reforms. This is particularly true of the inland provinces that have not received the kind of investment which has flowed into the coastal areas.
The fact that the Americans still speak of "Communist China" is an eloquent proof of their attitude to it. Under Clinton, Washington followed the line of engaging China - that is, attempting to enmesh it in the world capitalist system, thereby ensuring that capitalism in China would become irreversible. But the Bush administration is divided. On the one hand, it is under the pressure of Big Business whose motto has always been: "Money does not smell" and which would trade with the devil and his uncle if it were necessary to make a nice profit. On the other hand, there is the traditional reactionary wing of the Republican Party, with its die-hard "anti-Communism", which sees "Red China" as a threat to American civilisation, motherhood and apple-pie. To this must be added the voice of the military and those strategists of Capital who understand the long-term conflict of interest between China and Russia. Having very few opinions of his own, President Bush is tossed like a rag doll between these rival factions, with the most contradictory and sometimes amusing consequences.
China is more integrated in the world economy than at any time in history. But this fact, which is generally a progressive development that has helped boost the Chinese economy, also means that China is no longer immune to the shocks that come from the world market. The trade surplus which China currently enjoys with the USA can be ignored, or treated as a minor irritant so along as the boom lasts. But with the beginning of a downturn, protectionist tendencies in the USA will grow. Such tendencies are particularly strong among the Republicans. The attempt to include China in the World Trade Organisation - which is still not finalised - will meet ferocious resistance from these sections. If the present downturn turns into a slump, the contradictions between China and America will intensify. Already the chorus in the US about China's human rights record, the absence of free trade unions, the low wages etc. are a hypocritical disguise behind which the protectionist lobby pushes its case against trade with China.
Changed balance of forces
Everything now points to a movement in the direction of recession on a world scale. That the American ruling class is seriously worried at this prospect is shown by the string of cuts in interest rates. However, it is far from clear that these measures will be sufficient to stave off a crisis. If, as is quite possible, the present recessionary trends in the USA end up in a deep slump on a world scale, everything will be thrown into the melting-pot. Not that this would lead immediately to war, either. On the contrary. The immediate effect of a slump will be to redouble the natural tendency of the Republicans to turn inwards, to devote most of their energies to "solving America's problems first". America's appetite and capacity for foreign adventures will therefore be severely restricted.
However, it is impossible for the USA to extricate itself from the maelstrom of events on a world scale. Its interests are everywhere, as are its foreign bases. Serious events abroad must impact in a major way on America itself. Thus, in the last analysis, the slogan "America first" is not the slogan of isolationism, but a particularly virulent expression of imperialism. In the next period, America will have to defend its perceived interests on a world scale: interfering in the affairs of other states, especially in Central and South America, getting involved in wars, assassinations, military coups and counter-revolutionary conspiracies on a global scale. In the same way that, during the period of economic upswing, the USA was the capitalist world's "banker of last resort", so in the period of crisis and downswing, it will be the policeman of world capitalism.
Such a position will prove costly. Already, the attempt to place a cordon sanitaire around China, by means of forming military alliances with certain Asian states, has begun to break down. Washington continues to back Taiwan as a dagger pointed at China. But after the collapse of 1997, many Asian governments are re-thinking their traditional alliances with the USA. Indonesia, in the throes of revolution, has criticised Washington over the spy-plane issue. Malaysia, another giant, is generally unfriendly to the USA. Only Thailand remains staunchly and unambiguously pro-American. In all Asia, there are now approximately 100,000 US troops. Their presence is not an accident. Thailand has recently staged joint military exercises with the Americans (Operation Cobra). This is the largest military exercise in Asia this year.
Lacking firm allies in the region, Washington is now cultivating the Philippines. But the recent political upheavals that led to the downfall of Estrada shows that the Philippines is also entering into a new period of instability and revolution. On the other hand, Australia - a weak imperialist power - is increasingly intervening in the affairs of its neighbours with a view to carving out spheres of influence, and grabbing markets and sources of raw materials for itself. It talks of establishing an "arc of stability" around itself, allegedly to shelter its shores from the instability that already afflicts its neighbours: Fiji, Papua, the Solomon Islands and East Timor. In answer to those who argued that Australia's intervention in East Timor was a "humanitarian enterprise", we explained that Australian imperialism was only interested in strengthening its stranglehold on the wealth of the area. This is now proven by the course of events, as Australian companies set up shop in East Timor.
After China the key country in Asia is Japan. Although severely weakened by a decade of recession and stagnation, Japanese capitalism remains an economic giant. Like Germany, Japan is a state whose economic strength is not reflected in a corresponding political and military presence on a world scale. Since 1945 it has been able to shelter behind the American nuclear umbrella. In the years after the War it spent little on arms, which was a major factor permitting the Japanese capitalists to plough back most of the surplus value in productive investment. This was how they built such a formidable industrial base. However, as with Germany, the contradiction between industrial power and the absence of political power on an international scale must be resolved.
For some time now, voices have been raised in Japan calling for a new direction in military and foreign policy. If anything, these voices have become louder as the Japanese economy has sunk into recession. The new nationalist trend demands that the Japanese constitution be revised to permit its army, which is already quite powerful, to fight abroad. Paradoxically, the tendency towards aggressive militarism in Japan is being encouraged by America. Short-sighted as ever, the American imperialists imagine that an armed and assertive Japan would be their obedient stooge in Asia, as Britain is their tame poodle in Europe. Such thinking shows a striking disregard for history!
Japan has huge interests in Asia, which places its interests in direct contradiction to those of America which wants to seize the Asian markets for itself. Japan's dependence on trade is far more important to it than to America. Therefore, Tokyo wishes to pursue an independent policy in Asia, and does not like to be dictated to by Washington. This was again shown by the Japanese attitude to the spy plane crisis. They had no wish to be pushed into a confrontation with China on America's behalf.
The prolonged economic crisis in Japan is being expressed as a chronic tendency towards political instability. The fall of prime minister Yoshiro Mori after only eleven months in office has left the ruling LDP hopelessly split. There are clear symptoms of the emergence of the powerful Japanese working class, and the Communist Party has registered an increase in its vote in recent years. Everything points to a growing social and political crisis in Japan which is bound to intensify in the next period. In such a climate, it would not be surprising if Japan attempted to increase its markets and spheres of influence in Asia by more direct means.
Japan's traditional route for military expansion was Korea and the Manchurian Peninsular, leading to the vast untapped wealth of Siberia. However, this is not 1904 or 1937. In the past, Japan was confronted by weak Russian tsarism and a disintegrating semi-feudal China. Now its road is blocked by a Russia which, despite its catastrophic decline, still represents a formidable military power, and a mighty and confident China. Thus, the prospects for Japanese imperialism are severely limited. All the contradictions which in the past would have led to war will now be reflected internally, as a growing tendency in the direction of revolution - and counter-revolution. We face a period of tremendous economic, social and military instability all over Asia.
For the present, then, a war between China and America, or between China and Japan, is not on the agenda. But that can change. The conflict between China and the USA that flows from the whole situation will develop over decades. Even now one can see a significant shift in Washington's attitude to China. In a short time, it has been transformed from "most favoured nation" to "public enemy number one", or, to use the elegant language of diplomacy, from "a strategic partner" to "a strategic rival".
Asia and socialism
From an historical perspective the old powers of Europe are partially played out. They are too small to play an independent role on a world scale. Only a proletarian revolution that would tear down the outmoded and artificial barriers that divide the peoples, and the establishment of the Socialist United States of Europe could bring about the necessary regeneration of Europe. In the meantime, a new and vigorous part of the world is experiencing the birth-pangs of a transition of world-historical importance. The Romans considered the Mediterranean as the centre of the world, which is precisely what the word signifies in the Latin language. Before the Second World War, Trotsky observed that the centre of gravity of world history had passed from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. He pointed out that the Mediterranean had become a "Lilliputian lake". And, in a brilliant prediction, he added that in the future, the Pacific would be at the centre of events.
The history of the last fifty years has demonstrated the correctness of this prediction. It is not an accident that the Pacific, with its immense resources and productive potential, has attracted the attention of all the main powers. Asia, with its teeming millions, has acted as a gigantic magnet attracting investment from the Western capitalists, greedy for new markets and profits. The USA has long since turned its gaze away from Europe, which, while still important no longer plays the same role as in the past. Instead, the American bourgeoisie is turning its attention to Asia and the Pacific. This is no accident. The Pacific holds the key to the future of the world.
Along the Pacific rim - which, it must not be forgotten - includes the USA - the tremendous potential of hundreds of millions of people has begun to emerge as a determining factor in world history. Formally downtrodden masses are beginning to flex their muscles and show what they are capable of. We had a glimpse of the tremendous potential of Asia in the period of upswing of the 1980s which lasted until the collapse of 1997. Marxists welcomed the development of the productive forces under capitalism because it strengthened the proletariat and laid the material basis for a higher form of human society under socialism.
However, there is another side to this. The contradictions of capitalism are gathering like a threatening cloud over the Pacific Ocean. Explosive developments are being prepared. The future of Asia will not be the smooth and automatic road to prosperity promised by the bourgeois economists ten years ago. The economic collapse in Asia in 1997 was a warning of things to come. It provoked general instability, an enormous intensification of the class struggle in countries like South Korea, and the beginning of a revolution in Indonesia, which is still simmering. The next slump will have even more explosive consequences in the whole of Asia. These dramatic events are the background in which the titanic struggle for the domination of Asia is unfolding.
There is no shortage of combustible material in Asia which can set the whole region alight in a series of destructive wars and conflicts. If capitalism is allowed to continue the pillage of Asia, the inevitable rivalries between nations will engender one conflict after another, signifying death, destruction and poverty for millions. Countries like Indonesia are threatened with the nightmare of national disintegration, with the dreadful spectre of ethnic slaughter as a consequence. Only the working class can prevent this by taking power into its hands. Events on a world scale can decisively shape the future of Asia. A successful revolution in any key capitalist country - in Europe or Japan - would send shock waves around the world, affecting the mighty Chinese proletariat. The movement in the direction of genuine socialism will assume an irresistible momentum. The principal problem that has prevented this from taking place until now has been the weakness of the subjective factor: the revolutionary party and its leadership. Upon the resolution of this problem the future of Asia depends.
Under capitalism, the potential of Asia will never be realised, or only realised in a partial and distorted manner. Only on the basis of socialism can the immense potential of Asia and the Pacific be realised to the full. By combining the economies of the region in a common plan of production, the road would be open for an unheard-of development of industry, agriculture, science and technology, and an unprecedented blossoming of culture. But the prior condition for this is the breaking of the stranglehold of capitalism and imperialism. This is the only hope for Asia and for the world.