By Li Qingqing (Global Times, 13 December 2019) – Britain was scheduled to go to the polls on Thursday for the country’s 2019 general election. Our era is undergoing tremendous changes – Britain, the once all-powerful empire, can only retreat to the sad situation of using Brexit to attract global attention today. A tediously long farce has been staged in Britain since the 2016 Brexit referendum, and many people have already become impatient and indifferent.
Is the UK declining? Probably yes. But in the mid-19th century, the UK took the lead in completing the first industrial revolution and quickly became the leader of the world. Compared with today’s global status of the US, the UK used to be more competitive back then.
However, compared to the bright period of the Victorian era, today’s UK no longer leads the world in military strength, political system, economy or culture. The time when the sun never set on the British Empire has long passed.
Brexit has further dragged the UK into a downward spiral. Brexit shows the defect in the UK’s political system. Politicians transfer too much power to the people only to protect the system and fawn on the people for the sake of political interests. This has made Brexit a complete farce and a dilemma.
Back in the 19th century, Europe regarded the then backward Asia as the opposite of civilization. But in the 21st century, the UK’s decline seems to reflect Asia’s rise. As Asia rises, global wealth and power will accelerate to transfer to the continent.
The Financial Times published an article in March titled “The Asian century is set to begin,” in which it said 21 of the world’s 30 largest cities are in Asia, and Asian economies will be larger than the rest of the world in 2020. Indeed, people are now looking eastward because Asia shows a strong momentum in economic growth.
We must admit that the UK, in its heyday, left many precious legacies for later periods such as industrial technology, management model and the common law system.
Meanwhile, the once splendid empire has also left many troubles. For example, colonial Britain is responsible for many border issues in Asia, such as China-India border disputes and Pakistan-Afghanistan border disputes. These unsolved problems are still tormenting these Asian countries.
Solving these remaining problems is the key to Asia’s rise in the future. China and other Asian countries should seize the historic opportunity, focus on their own development and try to let Asian countries have a larger say in the world. When Asian countries stop following the West, the real “Asian century” will begin.
China is the most important and the fastest-rising country in Asia. As the world’s second largest economy, China will play an important role in building a new Asian order and maintaining peace and stability in the future.