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Jose Manuel Barroso, Lee Hsien Loong and Jose Socrates at an ASEAN-EU summit in 2007 Then-European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, center, and former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, left, at an ASEAN-EU summit, in Singapore, Nov. 22, 2007 (AP photo by Chitose Suzuki).

Europe’s Smart Pivot: The European Union in the Asian Century

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here.

One of the key differences between Western and Asian cultures is their view of time: Whereas history is linear and consequential as seen from the West, Chinese and other Asian cultures perceive time as being cyclical. In the latter view, the emerging Asian century is simply a natural phase within this recurring flow. As renowned economist Angus Maddison showed, China and India were the world’s largest economies for centuries. Only upon the dawn of the Industrial Revolution did Western Europe and the “Western offshoots”—Maddison’s term for the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Canada—catch up and overtake the Asian giants. The weight of the continents effectively changed as the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution shrank the relative effect of population size with respect to productivity and output. ...

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