The global crash has dramatically changed the world's balance of power. America, once the world's hyper-power, is in retreat and mired in debt. Europe confronts a similar fate and with weaker animal spirits for help. But China's rise seems unstoppable. The Asian century, long predicted, is arriving 20 years faster than expected. But Britain isn't ready. Since the loss of empire, our trade and security have been bound up with our neighbours across the wide Atlantic and the narrow channel. Worse, the globalisation of the last 20 years has left us feeling introspective and insecure and in little mood for a new and determined push overseas. Yet now is not the time for a failure of nerve. Our success in the century ahead may depend on our success in Asia. Britain now confronts a choice. To muddle through and get by with old allies or fast forward and resolve to prosper in the Asian century.
About this author
Liam Byrne is MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and Coordinator of Labour’s policy review. A passionate advocate of community organising, he founded Local Action Network to spread the community approach pioneered in Hodge Hill. Liam Byrne is a member of the board of Policy Network, the international centre-left think-tank, and a strong advocate of closer UK relations with China. He is a member of the UK-China Leadership Forum, was delegation leader in 2009, and helped found the UK-China Young Leaders Roundtable in 2010.