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Foreword: Asia Maior in 2015

As has been pointed out in the foreword of the previous Asia Maior volume, Asia – even the portion of it that the Asia Maior think-tank defines as «Asia Maior», namely Asia south of the Caucasus and Siberia and east of Turkey and the Arab countries – is a profoundly diverse area, basically devoid of any unity geographically, politically, culturally, economically or socially.[1]Given this situation, identifying one or more developments which can be considered as characterizing the evolution of even the majority of Asia Maior is always a difficult task.

However, in 2015 – the year under analysis in the present volume – at least three core developments appear to have been important enough to immediately catch the attention of attentive observers. Moreover, apart from these more conspicuous developments, some others, perhaps less immediately noticeable but equally important, are worth singling out. Accordingly, we shall organize this concise foreword in two parts: in the first, the most conspicuous and immediately evident developments which have characterized Asia Maior in 2015 will be briefly discussed; then, in the second part, we shall go on to briefly present some additional developments which, although less immediately visible, are important to understand in order to have an accurate overview of the evolution of Asia Maior.

***

As said above, there were three main and immediately visible developments which characterized Asia Maior in the year 2015. The first was the Chinese fulfilment of the first phase of a gargantuan political-economic project: the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, known also as the «One Belt, One Road» (OBOR) initiative.

The second element was the successful conclusion the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) negotiation by its main sponsor, the United States, as well as 11 Pacific Rim countries, including five Asian countries: Japan, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Malaysia.

The third element was the July 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (the UN Security Council’s five permanent members, namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus Germany). This agreement established the possibility of a more dynamic role for Tehran on the international stage and (more specifically) in West Asia.

The TPP treaty and the OBOR initiative are the two competing strategies adopted by the two major powers active in Asia Maior – namely the US and China – while pursuing their respective hegemonic strategies in that geopolitical area. These two competing strategies are intertwined with and to a large extent condition the strategies adopted by countries such as India and Japan, aimed at strengthening their own position on the international stage by projecting themselves as leaders at the regional level. Seen from this perspective, the political change determined by the progressive reintegration of Iran into the international system widened the area in which the hegemonic dynamics of the two major powers (US and China), plus the expansive economic strategies of some intermediate ones, in particular India and the EU countries, played themselves out.

It is in this context that China’s foreign policy must be seen. Since 1978, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has legitimized its own power with reference to the economic growth made possible by its policies. As a consequence, the legitimization of the party has gradually moved from an ideological motivation, namely the reference to the revolutionary model, to an economic and financial motivation, namely the long-term and truly impressive economic growth experienced by China since 1978. This shift, however, implies a risk: the PCC political legitimization cannot help but be in danger whenever the growth of the economy slows down – as has happened in recent years – and, by slowing down, highlights and deepens the growing socio-economic inequalities which are the necessary by-product of the Chinese growth model.[2] Therefore, supporting economic growth has become the priority of the Chinese state. In the past few years, an integral part of this strategy has been the ‘Go Global’ policy, aimed at making possible massive Chinese investments abroad. As shown by Francesca Congiu in the present volume, China has pursued this objective by launching, in 2013, what has more recently been termed the OBOR.

The OBOR project does not simply aim to encourage Chinese public investments abroad in order to support the national economy, it also pursues two additional targets, both crucially important. One is to guarantee the uninterrupted and easy flow of raw materials – particularly energy resources – into China’s economy, accompanied by the reverse flow of China’s products directed to the international market; the other target is the attempt to mitigate fears related to what is often seen as Beijing’s over-aggressive assertiveness on the international stage.

This dynamic Chinese foreign policy has been countered by an equally dynamic US foreign policy. US hegemony in Asia was built, after the Second World War, on three pillars: military supremacy, economic supremacy and cultural hegemony, i.e., the acceptance by a large part of the international community of this supremacy as something beneficial for all.[3] However, the grip of US power on Asia has started to slowly loosen since the 1970s. With the beginning of the world economic crisis in 2008, the decline of US power in Asia became suddenly more pronounced and increasingly visible.[4]

Once the long term decline of US hegemony has been pointed out, it must be put into perspective; the three pillars on which US hegemony in Asia and across the world has been based may be weakening, but the US economy remains the biggest on the planet, its military the most powerful and its cultural hegemony still basically unchallenged. In fact, the US remains the pole of attraction and the preferred residence and workplace of the most brilliant brains worldwide. As a consequence, US superiority in advanced technologies, both military and non-military, rather than declining appears to be surging. Last but not least, US hegemony, although weakened, appears to be propped up by a complex network of overlapping military and economic alliances.[5] Given this situation, it was only to be expected that Washington would find the will and the resources to launch a set of ad hoc strategies aimed at containing and hopefully reversing the process of decline. Perhaps the most important of these strategies, at least in the foreign policy field, has been the Obama administration’s launching, in 2009, of the so called «Pivot to Asia».

If observed from the standpoint of long-term US policies in Asia – at least in East and South-east Asia – the Pivot to Asia can be considered the fourth stage of a process which began at the end of the 19th century. The first, soon after the 1898 Spanish-American war and the consequent sudden surge of US power in Eastern Asia, was the «Open Door» policy, aimed at maintaining a formally independent China open to economic exploitation by the Western powers. The second stage, which started after the 1949 communist conquest of mainland China, was the anti-communist containment. The third stage was heralded by Richard Nixon’s speech in Guam, in 1969, setting out the doctrine which was to be known by his name.

The Nixon Doctrine de-emphasized the direct usage of force by the US and privileged diplomatic engagement with both the Soviet Union and Communist China. Although the application of the Nixon Doctrine in the following decades was not linear, with its dramatic interruption due to George W. Bush’s post-9/11 proactive military policy in Central and East Asia, it still remained the reference paradigm of US foreign policy in East, South-east and South Asia, even after 2001. It introduced what Douglas Stuart and William T. Tow allude to as «hegemony light» on the part of the US.[6] In Colin S. Gray’s words, this boiled down to «a primacy expressed more in leadership than in actual application of the mailed fist», as the latter was bound to be unsuccessful if employed, with little discrimination, «as the principal weapon in the U.S. strategy arsenal». Indeed, American military power was still considered as absolutely essential, but only as «the option of last resort», namely «a strategy more potent as threat than it is in action».[7] Finally, the fourth stage was the «Pivot to Asia», which, as stated by Douglas Stuart and William T. Tow: «is best understood as an effort to preserve ‘hegemony light’ in the face of an unprecedented shift in global power from West to East».[8]

The «Pivot to Asia» is clearly articulated in two contextual action plans: the first is the US policy to guarantee its continued financial assistance and military protection to its historical allies in Asia: Japan, Singapore, The Philippines, Malaysia and (ironically enough) its former archenemy of the 1970s, Vietnam. The second action plan is represented by the attempt – through the TPP treaty – at creating a gigantic US-dominated free trade area, encompassing both the Americas and East and South-east Asia.

On 4 February 2015, with the signing of the TPP treaty by 12 nations and the finalisation of the text of the treaty by the respective Trade Ministers on 5 October 2015,[9] the US reached a first crucial turning point in its strategy, aimed at maintaining and strengthening its hegemony in Asia (and as a consequence, worldwide). In fact, the building of a free trade area including 12 Pacific Rim countries, which has usually been described as an attempt to exclude and encircle China, has a different, more ambitious and politically more sophisticated objective. As argued by Francesca Congiu in this volume, the US aims less at implementing a policy of containment vis-à-vis China than at inserting China into an economic space where the rules are written by the US. In so doing, the US aims to reach an objective which it has pursued since the time of the «Open Policy», namely getting rid of those tariff and non-tariff barriers which, since the 19th century, have prevented the US from freely entering and dominating the Chinese market.

As we have seen, both China and the US aim to strengthen their international position by making use of their economic leverage. But, from this point of view, there is a radical difference in the way in which the two powers have been moulding their respective strategies since the beginning of the present century. The US, after the military difficulties it experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan, has shifted from a dominance model which privileged military might and its ruthless usage to a new hegemonic model based almost exclusively on economic supremacy. China, on the other hand, after having built its hegemony on its extraordinary economic growth, presently seems bent on reinforcing it by building up its military might. As Giulio Pugliese shows in the present volume, in 2015 China has become more accommodating in the East China Sea in the face of Japan’s economic and military-diplomatic containment strategies; however, this has simply made Beijing refocus its energies on strengthening its position in the South China Sea, by implementing a massive building programme on the disputed coral reefs and rocks of the Spratly Islands.

China’s activism in the China Seas only serves to increase the feeling of threat experienced by some Asian countries, including Japan. For its part, the Abe government has reacted by bargaining over the US’ new security guidelines, in exchange for Japan’s signature on the TPP treaty.

The TPP treaty, as shown by Michela Cerimele in the present volume, has an explicit exclusionary function towards those economies which are not part of the TPP. As, at this stage, the TPP treaty does not include China and the Japanese and Chinese economies are characterized by a high level of interdependence, China is forced to compete with the US and the other TPP signatories at a disadvantage in the crucially important Japanese market. Significantly, this is the same kind of strategy that, in the 1980s and 1990s, was employed by the US and its allies to draw China inside the World Trade Organization (WTO).[10]

Most Asian countries – with the notable exception of North Korea, which is completely isolated – have expressed their interest in participating in either the Chinese OBOR or the US-sponsored TPP treaty. The launching in 2015 of the «Cotton Route» project by New Delhi does not change this general picture, as India does not seem to have the resources to convincingly and effectively implement this project. Indeed, the «Cotton Route», if it ever takes shape – which is, by itself, a doubtful proposition – does not seem up to entering into direct competition with the OBOR or TPP projects. In this context, the goal of the lesser Asian countries – or, rather, the goal of their ruling elites – appears to be to take advantage of the trickle-down effects of one or both of the OBOR or TPP-related development policies. This is done without much concern for the possible adverse socio-economic fallouts of such projects.

In this context, it is worth stressing that the TPP treaty, although presented as a trade agreement, is not mainly about trade, as shown by the fact that, out of its 30 chapters, only six deal with traditional trade issues. The remaining 24 chapters aim to attenuate the local regulations in key sectors such as environment, health and labour, through an unspecified process of normative «harmonization». Also, the negotiation of the TPP treaty has been surrounded by secrecy, its contents going without debate in the parliaments of the countries involved. All this should have raised doubts about the real advantages of the treaty, particularly for the working classes and the weakest among the countries involved. However, curiously enough, the TPP-related negotiations have not aroused either a particular interest or triggered any sustained protests in the signatory countries.

***

Whereas the three developments discussed above are the ones which immediately appear to characterize the evolution of Asia Maior in the year under review, two more need to be singled out and briefly appraised: the vicissitudes of democracy and the evolution of the economy.

In the foreword to the previous Asia Maior volume, «the lack of unity as far as the political systems of the several Asian countries are concerned» was stressed and the point was made that: «Indeed, one could claim that practically all kinds of political regimes are nowadays present in Asia Maior, ranging from the biggest democracy in the world, India, to the most bizarre dictatorship on the planet, North Korea.»[11] Once this has been pointed out, the fact remains that, out of 20 Asia Maior countries examined in the present volume, 17 have political systems which are fully democratic, partially democratic, or somewhat democratic. Accordingly, the situation ranges from the largest democracy in the world, India, which remains a full-fledged democracy, although crisscrossed by authoritarian tendencies, to regimes which, borrowing from Stephan Ortmann’s article in the present volume, can be accurately defined as «electoral authoritarian regimes», to the peculiar Iranian case, where a democratic system is enclosed in the «womb» of an authoritarian one.

Looking at things from this perspective, it is worth noting that out of the 17 Asia Maior countries analysed in the present volume and characterized by either democratic, partially democratic, or somewhat democratic systems, four (Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan) went through either national parliamentary or presidential elections or both in the year under review, four more (Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan) did the same in 2014 and an additional three (Cambodia, Pakistan, Iran) went to the polls in 2013. In other words, more than half of the 20 Asia Maior countries analysed in this volume went to the polls in the last three years, which, at least at first sight, appears to be an encouraging indicator towards the widening reach of democracy. Only one Asia Maior country, namely Thailand, went in reverse, because of the military coup in 2014.

Proceeding westward in our analysis of the elections (and without any pretension of establishing a hierarchy to their importance), some of their distinguishing features are worth highlighting. In the small but strategically and economically important city-state of Singapore, the 2015 parliamentary elections saw the apparent reverse of the political trend set in motion by the 2011 elections. The 2011 elections had witnessed an impressive surge of the opposition, while the 2015 elections saw a major defeat for opposition and the strengthening of the ruling party, namely the People’s Action Party (PAP). However, the PAP, in spite of its victory – favoured, as shown by Stephan Ortmann in this volume, by exceptional circumstances – saw the scope of its power severely reduced by the necessity to be much more receptive than before to the popular will.

In Myanmar, a parliamentary election – and at long last, a free one – witnessed the landslide victory of the Aung San Suu Kyi-led party, the National League for Democracy, meaning that the Union and Solidarity Development Party, the parliamentary front of the army, was unseated. While this victory – rightly assessed by Pietro Masina in the present volume as a historical one – was an undoubted triumph of democracy, its results were bound to be restricted by both the limitations of the elected government’s powers and the conspicuous residual political powers allowed to the army by the existing constitution.

In Sri Lanka, in January 2015, the victory at the presidential elections of Maithripala Sirisena, the candidate of the united opposition, marked another historical triumph for democracy, putting an end to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s increasingly authoritarian regime. In August, the presidential election was followed by the parliamentary election, which saw a huge popular participation (70% of the electorate) and confirmed the electoral trend initiated by the January poll. Indeed, the forces hostile to the former Rajapaksa regime and favourable to the new presidency, although missing the absolute majority of the parliamentary seats, gained the upper hand, confirming the decline in power of the former president and his political supporters. Already before the parliamentary election, the new president brought about a limitation of the extensive powers given to the presidency by Rajapaksa in 2010. After the parliamentary elections, the new premier, Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his 5th November speech, outlined a «Third Generation Reforms Plan», sketching out an impressive socially progressive reform programme. However, the wounds opened by the long civil war – such as the heavy militarization of the Northern region and the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act – were left untouched.

Finally, in Kyrgyzstan, the October parliamentary elections confirmed the hegemony of the pro-president parties, yet did not alter a general situation characterized by uncertainty and the lack of a clear-cut political project.

Whereas, at the time of writing, it is too early to clearly assess the consequences of the elections in Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan, it is possible to attempt to do so in the case of the Asia Maior countries which went to the polls in 2014 and 2013.

Maybe the most interesting among these cases is that of Indonesia, the third largest democracy in the world (after India and the USA). Here, the 2014 presidential election was won by Joko Widodo, a politician who was unconnected to the corrupt, authoritarian and largely criminal «New Order» of President Suharto. As such, President Widodo was seen as an expression of a surging democratic wave. Unfortunately, as shown by Elena Valdameri in this volume, at the end of 2015 the record of the new president was a mixed one; the hoped-for change, although not totally absent, was limited, as Joko Widodo appeared either unwilling to or incapable of challenging the well-entrenched, New-Order-related conservative forces present both inside and outside the government coalition.

An equally interesting case (and a revealing one) is that of India, the world’s largest democracy. Here, the 2014 general election saw the landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Narendra Modi-headed parliamentary front of the Hindu right. After the elections and during the whole year under review, an atmosphere of growing intolerance against non-Hindu minorities and free thinkers became increasingly apparent. Acts of intimidation and open violence, sometimes with deadly results, were organized and/or carried out by Hindu activists, while the government turned a blind eye to – or, sometimes, was taking an apologetic stand vis-à-vis – these fascistic aggressions. The organizations which promoted such violence showed that they had learned from the anti-Muslim Gujarat pogrom of 2002. Massive violence – as was the case in 2002 – is bound to bring the undesired attention of the international community; on the contrary, «chirurgical» violence, applied to single individuals or small groups, easily remains under the radar, particularly if the perpetrators are not Muslims. But the effects of this widespread «low-intensity» violence are equally terrorizing for the social groups which are its victims, generating a situation where the democratic space is increasingly and severely constrained.

In the year under review, Bangladesh, which went to the polls in January 2014, still appeared as a democracy, albeit one living under a kind of siege. On the one hand, it was still dealing with those politicians who, although active and vicious accomplices of the Pakistani army in the 1971 genocidical war waged against the Bangladeshi people, had later resurfaced as partners of some post-independence governments. On the other hand, the Bangladeshi democracy confronted, not without uncertainties and weaknesses, a wave of murderous and wanton violence by radical Islamic groups.

In Afghanistan, after the end of the Karzai era, brought about by the 2014 presidential election, political power was shared between Ashraf Ghani (who took over the presidency) and Abdullah Abdullah (appointed chief executive officer, i.e., prime minister). However, the relations between Ghani and Abdullah were characterized by profound disagreement, making it difficult for them to implement any kind of coherent policy and impossible for the political system, particularly the electoral process, to be reformed.

Cambodia, which went to the polls in July 2013, celebrated the 30th anniversary of Hun Sen’s prime-ministership in 2015, which, by itself, does not seem an indicator of good health for a democracy. In fact, after the 2013 elections, social conflict has exploded virulently throughout the country and has been confronted by the government with repression and violence.

In Pakistan, the 2013 elections were the first in the whole history of the country to see a democratic transition from one elected parliament to another elected parliament. However, two years later, Pakistan’s democratic institutions remain weak and appear largely subordinated to the army’s political will.

In Iran, the 2013 presidential election, which saw Hassan Rouhani’s victory, gave him the possibility to negotiate and finally, in the year under review, conclude a crucially important deal with the P5+1 countries, including the US, which promised the early reintegration of the Middle Eastern country into the international community. However, developments in Iran on the domestic front remained disappointing. Political and social freedoms continued to be severely limited, while the economy’s situation remained unsatisfactory.

Summing up, while democracy is undoubtedly at work in Asia Maior, sadly its results and the benefits for the people at large are, most of the time, disappointing.

***

The above notes on democracy in Asia Maior are far from exhaustive, as for the sake of brevity they are limited to those countries which went through the electoral process in the period 2013-15. However, they are sufficient to highlight once again that political systems in Asia Maior vary along a spectrum, from full-fledged democracy, as in India, to a kind of dual system where democracy gestates inside an openly authoritarian system, as in Iran, to what appears, to a large extent, to be the ideal type of an authoritarian regime, namely North Korea.

Although heterogeneous, this situation is less so than it may appear at first sight. As argued by Emanuela Dalmasso, today democracy and authoritarianism, rather than two opposing poles, can be viewed as part of the same continuum.[12] This continuum is what French scholars Oliver Dabène, Vincent Geisser and Gilles Massardier have characterized as: «[an] authoritarianism with a human face, that spares no country, no political regime, no system, no transnational organization, but whose substantiating ‘traces’ and salient ‘expressions’ can be found in almost all ‘situations’ and political ‘logics’ which unfold before our eyes at the dawn of the twenty-first century».[13]

 

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Last but not least, some words must be expended on the economic trends in Asia Maior. Without giving the data for the individual countries, which are available in the related articles in the present volume, the point can be made that in 2015 the Asia Maior countries’ GNP, although growing less rapidly than before, neared a respectable 6% increase.[14] As pointed out by ADB Chief Economist Shang-Jin Wei: «The region’s growth [was] supported by vibrant private consumption in the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and expanded industrial production in India and other countries. At the same time, countries reliant on commodities [were] hurting from the global slump in prices, and the slower-than-expected recovery in the US and economic contraction in Japan will continue to [adversely] weigh on export prospects».[15]

On the whole, in 2015, economic growth appeared to be sustained in East and South Asia – where it reached 6% and 6.9% respectively; less so in South-east Asia, where it was 4.4%, while it was remarkably slower in Central Asia, where the local economies, hit by «continued low commodity prices, particularly oil and gas» and unaided by «the slow recovery in the Russian Federation», recorded a 3.2% GNP growth.[16]

On the whole, economic growth in Asia Maior appeared to be towed along by China and India, which recorded a GNP growth of just under 7% and just over 7% respectively.[17] This in turn means that, in 2015, India’s rate of growth overtook China’s, making India the fastest growing economy among the major world economies. However, India’s success should not obscure two significant points. The first is that, as pointed out by Diego Maiorano and Michelguglielmo Torri in the India-related article in this volume, India’s quicker economic pace might be, at least in part, the result of a new statistical methodology, whose soundness is not beyond criticism. Moreover – and much more relevant because it is a fact rather than a speculation – in 2015 China’s economy was still four times the size of India’s. As pointed out once again by Diego Maiorano and Michelguglielmo Torri, who quote well-known Indian statistician Ashish Kumar, should India continue to grow at the same speed as in 2014-15 and should China continue to perform at the lower level of the last few years – both of which are highly doubtful propositions – then India would still need 20 to 30 years to catch up with China.

At the end of the day, the truth is that, in the foreseeable future, China remains the economic «locomotive» of Asia. Therefore, for the time being, India’s evident ambition to be considered on a par with China and possibly supplant her as the leading Asian country remains nothing more than very wishful thinking.

N.M. & M.T.

[1] Michelguglielmo Torri, ‘Foreword: Asia Maior and its Asia’, Asia Maior 2014, p. 12.

[2] For a discussion of these problems see Francesca Congiu, ‘Cina: lavoro al centro’, Asia Maior 2010, pp. 289 ff.

[3] On the concept of cultural hegemony, which we prefer to the more recent and more undetermined concept of «soft power», see Quintin Hoare & Geoffrey Nowell Smith (eds.), Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, New York: International Publishers, 1971 (1st edn.), the pages listed at p. 480, under the voice «hegemony».

[4] On the decline of the American hegemony see Immanuel Wallerstein, Alternatives: The United States Confronts the World, Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2004; Giovanni Arrighi, ‘Hegemony Unravelling-1’, New Left Review, No. 32, March-April 2005, and ‘Hegemony Unravelling-2’, New Left Review, No. 33, May-June 2005. That thesis was fleshed out by its author in Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the 21st Century, London: Verso, 2007. See also Michelguglielmo Torri, ‘Declino e continuità dell’egemonia americana in Asia’, Asia Maior 2009, pp. 9-31.

[5] Vince Scappatura, ‘The US ‘Pivot to Asia’, the China Spectre and the Australian-American Alliance’, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 36, No. 3, September 9, 2014.

[6] Douglas Stuart & William T. Tow, Setting the context, in William T. Tow and Douglas Stuart (eds.), The New US Strategy Towards Asia: Adapting to the American Pivot, New York: Routledge, 2015.

[7] Colin S. Gray, After Iraq: The Search For A Sustainable National Security Strategy (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB902.pdf).

[8] Douglas Stuart & William T. Tow, Setting the context, p. 3. See also Dong Wang, The United States and China: A History from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013.

[9] Rebecca Howard, ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal signed, but years of negotiations still to come’, Reuters, 4 February 2015. The pact was finalized on 5 October 2015, by the Trade Ministers of the 12 countries involved. See Matthew P. Goodman & Scott Miller, ‘The Trans-Pacific Negotiations conclude’, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 5 October 2015.

[10] Negotiations between the WTO and China started in 1986. They continued for 15 years, until the signing of the Treaty of Accession by China in 2001.

[11] Michelguglielmo Torri, ‘Foreword: Asia Maior and its Asia’, p. 12.

[12] Emanuela Dalmasso, On fait du lobbying. Transizione democratica e movimento delle donne in Marocco, Tesi di dottorato, Università di Torino, 2010, pp. 60-62.

[13] «[un] autoritarisme à visage humain qui n’épargne plus aucun pays, aucun régime, aucun système, aucune organisation transnationale, mais dont on trouverait des ‘traces’ probantes et des ‘expressions’ saillantes dans la quasi-totalité des ‘situation’ et des ‘logiques’ politiques qui se déploient sous nos yeux à l’aube de ce XXIe siècle». Oliver Dabène, Vincent Geisser, Gilles Massardier, La démocratisation contre la démocratie, pp. 7-28, in Oliver Dabène, Vincent Geisser, Gilles Massardier, Autoritarismes démocratiques et démocraties autoritaires au XXIe siècle, La Découverte, Paris 2008, p. 20, quoted ibid., p. 62.

[14] According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the average growth in Asia was 5.8% in 2015. Asian Growth to Match Forecasts, Remain Steady in 2015, 2016 – ADB, News Release, 3 December 2015. Asia, according to the ADB, largely but not exactly coincides with Asia Maior, as it does not include Iran.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.; Asian Development Outlook 2015 Supplement: Growth Holds Its Own in Developing Asia, Publication, December 2015.

Giorgio Borsa

The Founder of Asia Maior

Università di Pavia

The "Cesare Bonacossa" Centre for the Study of Extra-European Peoples

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