Viacheslav Belokrinitskiy, D.Sc. (Hist.), professor at the Oriental Studies Department, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, department head at the Institute of Oriental Studies, RAS (Moscow, Russia)

The beginning of the 21st century provided a new platform for viewing the relations between the West and East in the world economy and politics. Three factors were largely conducive to thisthe rapid economic upswing of China and India (two sleeping giants of the past century), the powerful upsurge in the demographic potential of the Islamic world, and the demographic decline in the area where Western cultures are widespread, which caused a security crisis and gave rise to a nervous reaction in the West to the risks and challenges in this sphere. After becoming involved first in the Afghan, and then in the Iraqi war, the U.S. began to have doubts about the unconditional nature of its leadership in the world, thus giving China and other Asian states (beyond the Near and Middle East) time to catch their breath after the 1997-1998 crisis and show greater initiative in resolving the tasks they faced.

One of the results of this reassessment of the situation is the idea of Chinas growing region-forming role, which being the country with the largest population on the planet, is transforming before our very eyes into the largest world economy. It is a well-known fact that todays economic progress is distinguished by high energy intensity. It is particularly high in the developing Asian economies, such as China and India. The PRC already occupies second place in the

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