The article called “Democracy and International Relations in Asia” written by Amitav Acharya focuses on the development of democracy and its influence on internal and external relationships in the countries of Asia. The author of this article studies evidence of the political, social, and economical situations in these countries before and after their democratization and elaborates on the processes that stimulated democratization in Asian countries and supported it.
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Studying the effects of democratization, Acharya compares authoritarian regimes in various countries of Asia and how the situation changed after the beginning of democratization. The author responds to the scholars who state that democratization of authoritarian states in most cases leads to disorders within the country. In fact, this opinion is logical because democracy loosens control over a number of social aspects and institutions such as the press and social media, for example, which often results in social clashes concerning self-expression and public and private opinions.
Authoritarian countries overall are known to be less tolerant towards diversity, this is why it may be hard for their citizens to handle the set of new values and norms. Of course, the transition to democracy rarely goes without issues, yet the democratic ways of coping with them prove to be more humane and result in fewer victims.
Acharya also notices the change in the countries’ international policies after the adoption of democracy. The author explains that usually democratic states tend to be friendlier towards other democracies and clash with non-democratic neighbors. The author presents an opposing opinion which states that authoritarian countries are economically more successful, and argues with it explaining that economical growth of democratic countries is slower, yet more consistent due to the fact that its main stimulus is not a blind competition but internal care for own prosperity.
The author explores the characters of international relationships between different neighboring states such as North and South Koreas, China, and Taiwan, and examines the power of regional and social pressures forcing the country leaders to choose democracy as the future way of development. Acharya concludes by discussing the concerns about the tendency of anti-Americanism and growing nationalism that often seem to come along with democratization in authoritarian countries and may lead to international conflicts.
The first question I would like to raise is about the meaning of the cultural and historical background of a country and its impact on the success or even possibility of its democratization. The article speaks about the states of Asia neutrally, exploring them and their relationships without mentioning that the Asian world is very different from the Western world. This way, democratization there might be the result of social and political pressure, yet culturally it might not be seen as the best way towards success and prosperity.
This way, can cultural and historical background become a serious obstacle for democratization and prevent it from happening? The second question is what consequences could occur if anti-US moods in economically powerful Asian countries such as China and South Korea became stronger; does democratization provide more alliances or enemies for the US?