Academicians and experts examined the awaited leadership role prominent Asian countries, namely China, India, and Japan, could play in the arena of global power-players, and the challenges facing these countries.

This was at the seventh panel of the fourth Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate, titled “Back to the Future: Asia’s Return? (China, Japan and India)”. The participants were: Dr. Kei Hakata, professor of politics and security at Seikei University, Dr. Meena Roy, Head of West Asia Centre at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, and Dr. Wu Bingbing, senior research fellow at the Institute for International and Strategic Studies (IISS) in Peking University.

Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Roy Kamphausen, Senior Vice President for Research at the National Bureau of Asian Research and the moderator of the panel, said that despite Japan being an important global economic force, it does not exemplify a perfect economic model. He added that Japan faces internal difficulties such as the aging demographic and shortage in labour force, in addition to external challenges presented by the emerging economies in the region.

Dr. Roy said India is building relationships with the GCC countries based on several considerations, among the main ones were: Indian trade and employment in the region, and the importance of energy supplies to it. She added that India considers Gulf countries key partners in the fight against terrorism.

Dr. Bingbing found that China is always waiting for Washington to coordinate with it on matters of security and regional issues, and stressed that Washington's unilateral arrangements without coordination with Beijing are straining relations between the two countries.

Dr. Hakata said that Japan considers North Korea to be a prominent threat in the near future, but views China as a constant strategic threat.

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