Editorial: Canada’s ongoing Asian power failure

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If a new report on Asian power and influence is anything to go by, Canada is in dire need of a jump-start from within and without.

The Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index 2019 analytics track changes in the distribution of power and influence in Asia and measure a state or territory’s capacity to influence international events and the behaviour of other states in the region.

The rankings are based on several factors, including economic resources, military capacity, diplomatic and cultural influence and economic relationships.

Not surprisingly, the index reflects how Asia’s economic transformation is rapidly changing global politics and economic strategies.

Those changes will have some significant knock-on effects in Canada and the rest of North America.

For example, the United States is still ranked as the region’s pre-eminent power, but the institute notes that America has become a net underachiever while China amassed the most overall gains in power in the 2019 rankings and for the first time edged out the U.S. in the index’s assessment of economic resources.

The institute points out that, even while the economy in China is slowing, in absolute terms it grew by more than the size of Australia’s economy in 2018.

The report also notes that China’s GDP has become less dependent on exports as the world’s largest trading nation shifts to “a domestic consumption model.”

The Lowy Institute adds that China has become the leading source of foreign investment into the region’s developing economies.

There are several concerns for Canada in the Asia Power Index report, chief among them: Canada is not even on the 2019 top 25 power rankings list, which includes such lesser lights as Laos, Mongolia and Nepal.

With Canada now holding a weak hand in the high-stakes diplomatic poker game that is the Huawei extradition affair, that absence bodes ill for this country in a region that the Lowy Institute notes now has three of the world’s four largest economies.