I think I have come to the conclusion that my last Blog on this subject wandered too far off the original theme. Muddled thinking helps no one, and even if I knew what I was writing about, a re-read persuades me that others reading Part II might be getting lost.
I started down this road of Change or No Change on the premise that we may think the world around us generally is changing because of the amount of activity taking place. But the reality is we are not changing very much at all. You can be in an induced coma-like state for ten years and when you wake up although things like fashion will have changed, the world around us generally has not done so. To recap, I think this is generally true of Europe ... lots of activity and not much action. North and South America, in a similar position although North America does seem to be translating some of their actions into progress. Africa meanwhile remains in the grip of corruption, and nothing positive will change on that continent until tribal issues get resolved (difficult), and the countries are run by people who will attempt to eradicate corruption (unlikely, in my view).
But what of Asia; is there change here? On the face of it, of course yes. New leaders in China, Japan and South Korea for a start, but will they create real changes?
In the case of South Korea the evident change is their first ever woman President in a country known to be a male dominated society, but Ms Park's newly sworn in administration is already beginning to hit some speed bumps. Her Defence Minister nominee has quit, and she herself has been singled out for some pretty unpleasant rhetoric from the North Korean "boy" who is starting to walk down a dangerous path of brinksmanship that might go badly wrong. Of course it seems that Ms Park's relatively narrow victory in the December election was largely due to the vote from the older members of the Korean population who remembered her Father. A military dictator, who was assasinated in 1979, was credited with growing the Korean economy but disliked for his policy of crushing dissent and preventing democratic development. One wonders how much of the father has rubbed off on the daughter.
Japan has returned to a former leader who seems to be promising to do all the things he promised to do previously as Prime Minister - but he only lasted a year on that occasion. The rather hawkish and nationalistic Mr. Abe might wish to leave more of a mark this time - and I am not sure that the consequences will be good for North Asia, or the Japanese economy that remains in recession.
China has now formally had its change of leadership. Some people I speak to are clearly unconvinced about China and what the new leaders will bring, but initial signs seem relatively positive. As with many developing economies, corruption has plagued China for years but the appointment of the no nonsense Wang Qishan to the role of Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection might bring about some major changes in that area. The new President Xi Jinping, and new Premier Li Keqiang, at 59 and 57 years of age respectively could make some significant changes to China as it continues the process of emerging into the world, but it's not going to be easy. Much remains to be done, although I get a real sense that the new leaders are serious about doing what is necessary to create a "fair and just society" as Premier Li said the other day.
But change takes time. That is why it often appears that there has been no change. Who actually remembers the Kyoto Protocol on Climate change? Did anything substantive really come out of that? I am sure that we all remember the Basel rules for financial institutions. After many iterations of the rules, countries seemed to make up their own minds as to whether they would adopt them or not. Therefore, I would argue, why do we spend so much time, effort and indeed money on debating issues of "change". At the end of the day the changes that take place as a result of the activity are - little or no change.