Asia and Vaccine Diplomacy

Editor Andrea Fiano's monthly letter to you, the reader.

VOL. 35  NO. 3

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The Asian Century, the subject of our cover story this month, is certainly not just the result of the Covid-19 pandemic. But it is quite clear that the handling of the global health crisis has generated many more “winners” among Asian countries than in the rest of the world. Asia’s growth and its increasing world leadership in manufacturing have given the region a clear lead as the engine of growth for the rest of the world, and the last year has reinforced this position.

For example, Luca Paolini  & Patrick Zweifel, chief strategist and chief economist, respectively, of Pictet Asset Management, recently wrote: “A year after the Covid-19 outbreak triggered widespread social and economic upheaval, Asia is emerging out of the crisis stronger and with greater influence on the world stage, pulling the globe’s economic center of gravity steadily to the East.”

The signs, as described by Laurence Neville in his cover story, are many and relate to many Asian countries. They include the growth of a regional middle class and the potential of regional trade agreements like the RCEP announced in November by 15 countries, representing 30% of the world population. Add to all this, as we describe in a separate story, that the fact for the first time ever in 2020 more foreign direct investments were directed to China than to any other country in the world, including the US. Japan, too, is awakening to its potential.

Recent weeks have also shown a new possible sign of global leadership during the pandemic. While some nations do not have enough Covid-19 vaccines for their own populations, others, notably China and India, are able to produce enough to be exporting. Such soft power entails both diplomatic and economic consequences. In less than a year, we went from studying Asia’s contagion rates with pity to comparing its vaccination rates with envy. Now, we begin to see the long-term impact of the Covid pandemic and “vaccine diplomacy.”

Andrea Fiano | Editor