Please enable javascript to access the full functionality of this site

reports-journal-article-news banner

Special Report Issue 35 - Known unknowns: Uncertainty about the future of the Asia-Pacific

By Andrew Davies, Mark Thomson and Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Today’s Asia–Pacific is, by consensus, in a state of flux. At the start of the second decade of the ‘Asian century’, it’s instructive to look back at the corresponding point in the previous ‘European century’. By looking back we can see that the future is more contingent and less predictable than is often supposed.

It follows that the pivotal events of the 21st century will probably depend on factors that are only dimly perceived today—or even on ones that are totally unknowable at present. Consequently, based on what we know today, it’s impossible to say what the evolution of the Asia-Pacific region will be. The best we can do is to try and identify the broad possibilities and try to navigate towards the outcome most consistent with our interests—recognising that there’ll be some surprises along the way.

This paper outlines two possible strategic futures.