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The global crash has dramatically changed the world's balance of power. America, once the world's hyper-power, is in retreat and mired in debt. Europe confronts a similar fate and with weaker animal spirits for help. But China's rise seems unstoppable. The Asian century, long predicted, is arriving 20 years faster than expected. But Britain isn't ready. Since the loss of empire, our trade and security have been bound up with our neighbours across the wide Atlantic and the narrow channel. Worse, the globalisation of the last 20 years has left us feeling introspective and insecure and in little mood for a new and determined push overseas. Yet w is t the time for a failure of nerve. Our success in the century ahead may depend on our success in Asia. Britain w confronts a choice. To muddle through and get by with old allies or fast forward and resolve to prosper in the Asian century.
Liam Byrne is MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and Coordinator of Labour's policy review. His publications include the textbook, Local Government Transformed (1996), Information Age Government (1998), Cities of Enterprise (2002), Britain in 2020 (2003), Reinventing Government Again (with Phil Collins) (2004), Why Labour Won (2005), A Common Place (2007), A More United Kingdom (Demos, 2008) and Why Did Labour Lose - and How Do We Win Again (2010).