City & Business: Get used to the crisis ... it's only just begun

NO ONE has got a handle on the Asian financial crisis. A fortnight ago, with Indonesia teetering on the brink, the region's plunge looked like it might bring the world economy to its knees. Last week, with some of Asia's stock markets rebounding, it looked like a buy opportunity for investors with an appetite for risk. Next week, who knows?

Powerful Korean trade unions have yet to react to the reality of job cuts. In Indonesia, President Suharto's struggle to retain power in the fourth most populous nation in the world - one with a history of barely suppressed revolt - is only beginning. And these are the problems we can see coming down the pike.

The only certainty is that, in one form or another, the Asian financial crisis will be with us for years. The Latin American debt crisis broke in 1982. Its fever did not break until 1985. Even now it rumbles on.

Over the coming months we shall all become sick to death of the "Asian financial crisis". Peregrine-like bankruptcy stories will become duller than dishwater. So will news about who is buying whom in the region (tip: Banque Nationale de Paris will pick up the pieces of Hong Kong-based Peregrine Holdings).

As the days and weeks go by, it's a fair bet that China will overshadow other Asian news on the economic as well as political and regional security fronts. For this reason Teresa Poole's profile of Zhu Rongji on page 2 warrants particularly close scrutiny. Mr Zhu is China's man in Western financial capitals. But unlike, say, the international man at Japan's Ministry of Finance, Mr Zhu has his own power base. This spring he is slated to replace Li Peng as China's premier and number two. Neither a reformer nor a hardliner but a cross between the two, he is going to give the headline writers fits.

Mr Zhu's background is in China's state-planning apparatus. But, personifying the drift of Chinese economics, he has shown himself to be a pragmatist. He moves away from systems that don't work, including old-style communism.

Reporting on Mr Zhu and his reaction to the Asian financial crisis, we are likely to lend credence to the idea that the 21st century is going to be the Pacific century. It is simply not going to be the Pacific century we thought - it will be darker and less economically stable.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms