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The United States Is Quietly Losing Its Innovation Edge to China

by Yanzhong Huang
A newly-made fuel-efficient vehicle travels along a street inside the Hunan University during a test drive in Changsha, Hunan province October 8, 2013. A newly-made fuel-efficient vehicle travels along a street inside the Hunan University during a test drive in Changsha, Hunan province October 8, 2013 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

I am not a supporter of the faddish idea that America is in decline. Despite all the hullabaloo about the rise of China, the United States still boasts the most formidable military force and the largest, most innovative economy. But as a student of international studies, I am keenly aware that the rise and fall of great nations are often associated with significant historical events. It is hard to deny that the 2008 financial crisis exposed the Achilles’ heel in our economy and accerlated the shift of international power balance. This month, the self-inflicted U.S. government shutdown highlighted the partisanship and immobilism in our political system and undermined our ability to engage with the outside world.  China for example lost no time in questioning U.S. global leadership, urging all the emerging countries to consider building of a “de-Americanized world.” At the same time, an OECD report forecasted that China will overtake the United States in 2016 to become the world’s largest economy. Read more »

What China Needs to Learn From India

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Labourers are silhouetted against the setting sun as they work at the construction site of a residential building in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad on October 5, 2012. (Krishnendu Halder/Courtesy Reuters) Labourers are silhouetted against the setting sun as they work at the construction site of a residential building in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad on October 5, 2012. (Krishnendu Halder/Courtesy Reuters)

In discussions and writings about the Asia Pacific, India often seems to get short shrift—despite its size, record-breaking economic growth, and growing regional and global influence. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to pose some questions to the renowned economist—as well as Columbia University professor and my CFR colleague—Jagdish Baghwati about his terrific new book with Arvind Panagariya on India, Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries. Read more »

Thailand’s Education System Continues to Decline

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Anti-government protesters clash with police near the Government house in Bangkok November 24, 2012. Anti-government protesters clash with police near the Government house in Bangkok November 24, 2012 (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters).

Amidst all the chaos in Bangkok over the Pitak Siam rally —a group of monarchists opposed to the Yingluck government who were supposed to bring hundreds of thousands of supporters into the streets— another, similarly important piece of news about Thailand’s decline emerged. As it turns out, the Pitak Siam rally was mostly a bust. Only about 20,000 supporters actually turned out to rally sites in Bangkok, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands of people who came out in 2006 for anti-Thaksin rallies that ultimately helped precipitate the 2006 coup. Read more »

America’s Global Future on the Chopping Block

by Sheila A. Smith
Students from Harvard Kennedy School cheer as they receive their degrees during the 360th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 26, 2011.

Students from Harvard Kennedy School cheer as they receive their degrees during the 360th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 26, 2011. (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters)

Japan’s disasters, and our efforts to sustain our support, were the focal point of discussions at the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Education Interchange (CULCON) meeting I attended two weeks ago. Gathered there were the leading administrators for university, foundation, and people-to-people programs that sustain the U.S.-Japan relationship.

The news on Japan, of course, is difficult given the tragedy of this spring, and all of those who attended had stories to tell of the dampening impact the disasters, especially the nuclear disaster, has had on travel to and study in Japan.

The harder nut to crack, however, will be the impact of fiscal constraints on our ability to invest in the next generation of educators on Japan. Across the board, funding is disappearing in the United States to sustain education, exchanges, and research on Japan.

Read more »