Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015

Asia's giants under new management

Published on Apr 24, 2014 8:55 PM

MORE than one-third of the world's population live in just three countries: China, India, and Indonesia. With all three undergoing significant political transitions - whether electing a new leader or experiencing a recently installed leader's first key decisions - this is a decisive moment in shaping the global economy's future.

If Mr Narendra Modi and Mr Joko "Jokowi" Widodo win the upcoming elections in India and Indonesia, respectively, they will join Chinese President Xi Jinping in spurring regional economic growth - likely causing Asia's rise to global economic pre-eminence to occur faster than the world ever imagined.

In the year since Mr Xi assumed the Chinese presidency, he has centralised power to a remarkable degree. Not only has he positioned himself as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and chairman of the Central Military Commission; he has also neutralised potential rivals, including former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai and former security chief Zhou Yongkang.

Consolidating power in a country as large and messy as China is extremely difficult, making Mr Xi's accomplishment remarkable, to say the least. After all, it took Mr Xi's predecessor Hu Jintao far longer to achieve a similar degree of authority. But it is only a first step. Mr Xi is now attempting to use this power to push through the difficult reforms that Mr Hu and his prime minister Wen Jiabao have been widely criticised for neglecting.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!