Comunidad del pacífico en perspectiva - Volumen 2

AN AUSTRALIAN VIEW OF THE PACIFIC BASIN R. W. L. Austin 1. lntróduction It was Norman MacRae, Deputy Editor of the London Economist, who first allotted geographical names to spans of time. He described the century from 1775-1875 as the British Century, a period in which the United Kingdom assumed world industrial leadership through its use of the steam engine, the Bessemer steel– making process, and other inventions. The following century from 1875-1975 he called the American century, when the United States held a commanding lead in world industrial production, through its development of automobiles, airo craft, computers, and other sophisticated products. The ceniury which we have just entered, focussing on electronics and communications technologies, he called the Pacific century. It is not neccessary, however, to accept this cyelical view of his– tory to recognise that the regíon, of which the Pacific Ocean forms the centre, is fast becoming one of the most vital areas in the world both strategically and economically. To describe this region, the term "Pacific Basín" has come into common usage over the last decade. lt is certainly not a very preci– se term, except in the strictly geographic sence. What does it really Irlean and what is its relevance to Australia? Taking the widest view, the Pacific Basin can be defined as in– eluding all those countries bordering the Pacific Ocean in North, Central and South America; Oceania ineluding Australia and New Zealand; ASEAN (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines); Indochina; the countries of the Far East (China, Ja– pan, Taiwan, North and South Korea and Hong Kong); and Asia– tic Russia. On this basis, the Pacific basin ineludes over 42% of the world's population and more than a score of countries exhibiting a wide variety of political and economic systems, races, religions and social 76