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  • Open Access
  • © 2018

Asian Century… on a Knife-edge

A 360 Degree Analysis of Asia's Recent Economic Development

Palgrave Macmillan


  • Re-evaluates the conventional wisdom that the 21st century belongs to Asia

  • Dissects Asia’s economic, social, political and geopolitical challenges

  • Provides a timely preliminary assessment of the impact of the Trump presidency on Asia

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (12 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction

    • John West
    Pages 1-15Open Access
  3. Erratum to: Introduction

    • John West
    Pages E1-E1Open Access
  4. Taking Stock of Asia’s Economic and Social Development

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 17-17
    2. Asia’s Stunted Economic Development

      • John West
      Pages 19-55Open Access
    3. Asia’s Mythical Middle-Class Society

      • John West
      Pages 57-87Open Access
  5. Seven Challenges for an Asian Century

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 89-89
    2. Getting Better Value Out of Global Value Chains

      • John West
      Pages 91-123Open Access
    3. Making the Most of Urbanization’s Potential

      • John West
      Pages 125-151Open Access
    4. Giving All Asians a Chance!

      • John West
      Pages 153-182Open Access
    5. Solving Asia’s Demographic Dilemmas

      • John West
      Pages 183-211Open Access
    6. Fixing Asia’s Flawed Politics

      • John West
      Pages 213-246Open Access
    7. Combating Asia’s Economic Crime

      • John West
      Pages 247-277Open Access
    8. Can Asian Countries Live Together in Peace and Harmony?

      • John West
      Pages 279-320Open Access
  6. Looking Ahead

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 321-321
    2. What Next for the Asian Century?

      • John West
      Pages 323-328Open Access
  7. Back Matter

    Pages 329-335

About this book

This book is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license.

This book delves into the widely held belief that the 21st century will be the "Asian Century" by examining the Asia's rapid economic development in the post-war era and the challenges it faces in forging ahead of world leaders in the West.

The impact of the current turbulent global political climate on Asia is critically analyzed, employing a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, combining economic, social, political and geopolitical perspectives. Written in an accessible style, the book offers students, business, government, and civil society players powerful insights on Asia.


  • Asian Century
  • Asia's middle class
  • Urbanisation in Asia
  • Asian demographic challenges
  • Democracy and politics in Asia
  • Asia's global value chains
  • Economic crime in Asia
  • Power transition in Asia
  • China and US rivalry
  • Inclusive growth in Asia
  • Open Access


“Properly referenced and detailed, West’s well-argued volume will appeal not just to serious economists and political scientists, but also to other readers with an interest in the major themes and currents of political and social debate in our region.” (Roger Coombs, Asian Century Institute,, December 25, 2018)

“The user friendly writing style, and good eye for relevant detail and anecdotes, drawn from his long-time observation of the Asian scene, makes the book useful and relevant to policymakers, researchers, academics, students, and those who are concerned about Asia’s future prospects. … The book succeeds in communicating Asia’s inter- related challenges, with insightful sketches of various challenges in Asia’s leading countries.” (Mukul Asher, MyIndMakers,, March, 2018)

“Not only is it an impressive comparative analysis, but it also provides a very valuable context for understanding the nature of development in any of the particular countries examined. Because of this it is essential reading for policymakers with exposure to the region.” (Seamus Grimes,, February, 2018)

“John West has published a new book entitled ‘Asian Century’. It is a must-read for everybody who is anybody! … John West has written a very worthwhile book. His worldview, while very different from mine, is clearly expressed in a very readable fashion. I therefore recommend this book to everyone who is concerned about how the 21st century may progress.” (Frank Li,, February, 2018)

“West’s analysis is timely, insightful, and highly readable. Many recent studies have focused on specific problems, such as Asia’s yawning infrastructure gap and the implications of artificial intelligence and robotics. West paints with a much broader brush. He provides welcome coverage of the trampled rights of ethnic minorities, women, children, and the LGBT community.” (Robert Wihtol, the interpreter,, February, 2018)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Center for Global Discovery, Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan

    John West

About the author

John West has had a long career in international economics and relations, with major stints at the Australian Treasury as director of balance of payments, OECD as head of public affairs and director OECD Forum, and Asian Development Bank Institute as senior consultant for capacity building and training. He also taught globalization at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris. John is now adjunct professor at Tokyo's Sophia University, contributing editor at FDI-Intelligence, a Financial Times magazine, and executive director of the Asian Century Institute.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Asian Century… on a Knife-edge

  • Book Subtitle: A 360 Degree Analysis of Asia's Recent Economic Development

  • Authors: John West

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Singapore

  • eBook Packages: Political Science and International Studies, Political Science and International Studies (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-981-10-7181-2Published: 01 February 2018

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-981-13-5599-8Published: 23 December 2018

  • eBook ISBN: 978-981-10-7182-9Published: 24 January 2018

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XI, 335

  • Topics: Asian Politics, Asian Economics

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)