Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 12:49 | SYDNEY
Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 12:49 | SYDNEY

The Asian century and us


Sam Roggeveen


24 May 2011 15:32

One constantly recurring theme here on The Interpreter is the tectonic shift from the Atlantic to the Pacific now occurring in world affairs. We use terms like 'great convergence', 'the rise of China', 'Asia's rising powers', 'the Asian century', 'American decline' and so on to describe what many of us believe to be a once-in-a-century shift in global politics and power.

But one thing we don't do very well is to connect this trend to how Australians actually live their daily lives. If the Asian century really is as important as many of us here on The Interpreter say it is, then surely it ought to carry over into the lives of Australians, rather than being solely the concern of policy elites?

So, what does the Asian century mean for the way Australians work, play, and raise their families? Will it change the jobs on offer, or the way our children are educated? Will it affect the kinds of cities we live in, our consumption habits and where we take our overseas holidays? Will it make Australians feel less secure, less 'relaxed and comfortable'? Will it demand sacrifices like higher taxes or conscription? How will our demography change? Will our cultural and sporting habits be affected? Will we watch different shows on TV? Will we worship differently?

I have no answers to offer. But, prompted by Ben Eltham's article on The Drum, I just wanted to note the questions. This post can serve as a kind of place-holder for a discussion The Interpreter community really ought to have.

BTW, my image selection — 'Collins St, 5pm', by John Brack, painted in 1955 — is just meant to illustrate the simple fact that Australian society has changed radically before, partly at the hands of outside forces. It will do so again.