Publisher's Note: What I appreciate most each quarter in Scott Foster's Asia Letter is the chance to get a local, on-the-ground perspective on Asia, from Asia.
In this week's discussion, Scott lays out a perspective that may be up for some debate, but which is almost certainly exactly how Singapore, China, Japan, and the ASEAN states feel about the state of affairs in Asia - and the world - today, including the decline of US influence around the globe under Trump.
For those of us who know that China is perhaps the least-free trading nation in the world, it is difficult to watch the Chinese propaganda machine turning out high-volume falsehoods about leadership by the world's leading mercantilist nation. It is similarly hard to see the goofily-named "One Belt, One Road" project as anything but a massive copy of the economic colonialism practiced by the US in earlier days, with the result being the use of large infrastructure projects to feed Chinese firms, pay Chinese laborers, establish Chinese hegemony from the Panama Canal to US bases in Australia, force trading partners into using the worthless yuan, and enslave national economies with huge debt that likely can never be repaid, but that can be used for political and/or economic control for years going forward.
What's not to celebrate?
Speeches by Xi Jinping regarding how all nations should respect each other, after physically stealing the South China Sea and its islands, fisheries, and oil and methane deposits, from its neighbors ... If it were funny, it would make a good Saturday Night Live skit.
And yet this is the world we live in today. No one captures it better than Scott. -mra.