This article argues that the Asian Century should not be an attempt to emulate the Western Century of economic imperialism and consumerism. It is not possible for Asia to consume at the levels of the West because resource depletion will lead to higher prices and the planet cannot absorb the waste products of production and consumption. Asia should recast its role as the defender of our collective welfare by protecting natural capital and the environment. This will be resisted by multinational corporations which view consumption in Asia as the replacement for falling consumption in the West.
It is clear that the planet cannot and will not support an Asia that consumes as the West. It is also certain that Western Corporations will continue efforts to fuel consumption in Asia and take actions to benefit from market expansion in Asia. It is not evident, however, that Asia will accept the burden of defender of the planet that has been rejected by the West.