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Future of Asia Conference: The Phenomenal Rise of The Asian Middle Class

Posted by Elegant Celebrity on October 2, 2016 at 8:25 PM

Important questions about Asia’s future were considered at the Future of Asia Conference hosted by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council at the Fairmont Miramar on September 15 and 16, 2016.  Over 60 speakers including a US Admiral, a North Korean defector, CEOs, dignitaries, authors, and academics added to the discussion.

A big question many people wondered: will the U.S. and China play well together in the next century, or will they blow each other up.

Another question many people wondered: will smaller players like North Korea or ISIL incite a conflagration that escalates into another world war?

Pax Pacifica or World War IV?

There's good news for Asia and the world: The Phenomenal Rise of The Asian Middle Class.

The Conference featured several panels about the rise of the middle class including “China Dream,” “Entertaining Asia,” and "Future of Asian Cities."

At 1.3 billion people a piece, China and India are two of the biggest, most populous economies in the world, and they are growing rapidly into first-world status. Several of the smaller Asian countries like Indonesia and South Korea are growing rapidly, too.

As a rule of thumb, when people start to enjoy first-world comforts, they are more inclined towards peace rather than war. Why rock the boat when you’re living better than ever?

US Admiral Harry Harris backed this point in his keynote address to the Conference:

The foundation of [a country's] security is a strong economy. Increased trade binds nations closer together because there's more to lose when there's instability.

It's hard to measure just how fast and dynamic Asia is changing, but fortunately, the LAWAC produced a nifty booklet for the Conference called, Future of Asia: By the Numbers 100 Facts, which features 100 startling, eye-popping facts about Asia’s growth. For example:

#27. China's middle class is projected to grow from 47 million people in 2010 to 472 million in 2020.

#95. In 2005, only 23 of every 100 inhabitants in the Asia-Pacific region had mobile internet access; in 2014, the number had risen to 89 of every 100.

The booklet also points out several areas where Asia is already far superior to America.

#69. South Korea has the world's fastest internet with an average speed of 23.6Mbits/S compared to the US, which has an average speed of 11.9 Mbits/S.

#61. Japan has 40,000 Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations, and 30,000 gas stations. China has 50,000 EV stations, and 99,000 gas stations. The US has 9,000 EV stations, and 114,500 gas stations.

#24. A new billionaire was created almost weekly in China during the first quarter of 2015.

Speaking of billionaires, the Conference included a fireside chat about Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, and his company, Alibaba. The panel was called, "Future of Technology: Alibaba." The two people chatting were investor, Duncan Clark, who just wrote the book, Alibaba, The House That Jack Ma Built, and LAWAC President and CEO, Terry McCarthy, who's very informative, and speaks six languages.

It was a lively discussion. Duncan Clark has known Jack Ma for years. Alibaba has a bad reputation for selling pirated goods, but Duncan revealed an interesting insight about the Chinese middle class. As they accumulate more wealth, they shun pirated goods, and opt for the real thing, even though most pirated goods are as good as the real thing.

Here are three more insights about technology that were illuminated during the conference.

1. Apps like Snow, the SnapChat of China, and Line, the WeChat of Asia, are enabling more people, especially younger people, to express themselves more freely.

2. Virtual Reality technology will explode across the world, and right now, we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg, according to the President of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Man Jit Singh, who participated in the panel,  "Entertaining Asia."

3. #25 from the Future of Asia: By the Numbers 100 Facts: The Chinese supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, became the fastest in the world in 2016. It is roughly five times more powerful than the speediest US system.

Many good ideas were discussed by many knowledgeable luminaries at the Future of Asia Conference. The combined future of Asia and America is dynamic and promising. Many mis-steps are likely. Major armed conflicts are possible, but hopefully not inevitable.

I spoke with Terry McCarthy at the beginning and end of the Conference, and he shared some of his thoughts with me about the future of Asia. As long as people keep the conversation going, as long as economies and social classes are growing, and as long as people focus on creating a phenomenal future rather than getting mired in the past, we are on the verge of the most exciting golden age the world has ever seen.

People should be aware of the forces at work in American-Asian relations. Attend the Future of Asia Conference 2017 to learn more.


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