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Navigating the Asian Century: A Comprehensive Review of "The Future is Asian by Parag Khanna" for Vietnamese Businesses by Mike Hebert.

In a world increasingly influenced by the dynamics of Asia, understanding the nuances of this diverse region is crucial for businesses seeking to thrive. As the founder of MDT Training, with a focus on empowering people and companies through knowledge and insights, present an in-depth review of Parag Khanna's "The Future is Asian." In this review, I not only delve into the book's key themes but also contextualize its learnings for the Vietnamese business landscape and offer practical tips for leaders looking to leverage these insights for revenue growth.


Parag Khanna's "The Future is Asian" is a seminal work that provides a comprehensive overview of Asia's rising influence in global affairs. Khanna argues that the 21st century will be shaped not by a singular power but by the collective rise of Asian nations. The book navigates through the complex tapestry of Asian economies, political systems, and cultural norms, offering a nuanced perspective on the future of global economics and politics.

Economic Dynamism and Integration

A significant portion of the book is dedicated to discussing Asia’s economic resurgence. Khanna vividly illustrates how Asian economies are not only growing independently but are also becoming increasingly interdependent. He points out the growing influence of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by China, which are reshaping global trade and investment patterns. This interconnectedness is palpable in Southeast Asia, where Chinese investments have become a cornerstone of infrastructure development, and regional supply chains are deeply integrated.

Political Structures: Beyond the Western Paradigm

Khanna delves into the political structures of Asian countries, challenging the Western-centric view of governance and democracy. He suggests that Asian countries are charting their course, combining elements of authoritarian governance with liberal economic policies, as seen in Singapore and Malaysia. This perspective is crucial for understanding the political stability and economic growth in many parts of Asia, despite the absence of Western-style democracy.

Cultural Influence: A Two-Way Street

The book also explores Asia’s cultural influence, underscoring how Asian values, traditions, and products are increasingly impacting global trends. Khanna highlights the global appeal of Korean pop culture and the influence of Bollywood, demonstrating the shift in cultural power from West to East. In Southeast Asia, this influence is evident in the widespread popularity of Korean dramas, Japanese anime, and Indian cuisine, indicating a growing appreciation and assimilation of diverse Asian cultures.

The Role of Middle Powers

An interesting aspect of Khanna’s book is the emphasis on the role of middle powers in Asia, such as South Korea, Australia, and Indonesia. He argues that these countries will play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of power in Asia, navigating between the interests of larger powers like the US and China. This is particularly relevant in the context of ASEAN, where nations like Indonesia and Vietnam are emerging as key players in regional diplomacy.

The Future of Asian Connectivity

Khanna also touches upon the future of Asian connectivity, envisioning a more integrated and cooperative continent. He predicts the emergence of an expansive Asian system of trade, investment, and infrastructure, which could potentially redefine global connectivity. This vision holds particular promise for Southeast Asia, where improved connectivity could lead to increased trade, investment, and economic growth.

Global Implications

"The Future is Asian" is not just a narrative about Asia; it's about the world. Khanna discusses the implications of Asia's rise for the West, suggesting that Western nations will need to adapt to a world where Asia plays a more dominant role. He argues that this shift presents opportunities for collaboration in areas like technology, climate change, and global governance.

Relevance to the Vietnamese Context

For Vietnamese companies, the book's insights are particularly pertinent. Vietnam, located at the heart of Southeast Asia, is poised to play a significant role in this Asian century. Khanna’s analysis of the economic interdependence within Asia, the diverse political structures, and the cultural renaissance offers a valuable framework for Vietnamese businesses looking to expand both regionally and globally.

Driving Revenue Growth: 5 Key Strategies and Examples from Vietnamese Companies

  • Embrace Economic Integration: Khanna's discussion on Asian economic integration highlights opportunities for Vietnamese businesses in regional markets. Companies should look to expand their footprint across ASEAN, leveraging the collective economic strength and diverse consumer markets of the region. Understanding regional trade agreements and participating in cross-border collaborations can open new avenues for growth. THACO, a leading automobile manufacturer in Vietnam, has demonstrated remarkable success in expanding across ASEAN and other markets. By understanding and adapting to the regional trade agreements and economic policies, THACO has been able to export its products, including buses and trucks, to countries like Thailand and the Philippines. Their strategy of aligning manufacturing and export practices with the diverse requirements of regional markets exemplifies how Vietnamese companies can leverage economic integration for growth.

  • Adapt to Diverse Political Landscapes: The varied political systems across Asia, as outlined in Khanna’s book, require a flexible approach to international business. Vietnamese companies venturing abroad must tailor their strategies to align with the political context of each market. This involves navigating different regulatory environments, understanding local governance styles, and adapting to varying degrees of bureaucratic processes. Viettel Group, a state-owned enterprise that operates in the telecommunications sector, illustrates this strategy effectively. Having expanded its operations to several countries in Asia, Africa, and America, Viettel has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to different political and regulatory environments. Their success in diverse markets like Myanmar and Tanzania showcases their capacity to navigate varying governance styles and bureaucratic processes.

  • Leverage Cultural Dynamics for Marketing: The book’s emphasis on Asia’s rich cultural tapestry is a call for Vietnamese companies to use cultural insights in their marketing strategies. Understanding the cultural nuances of target markets can enhance brand appeal and customer engagement. This could involve localizing marketing campaigns, developing culturally resonant products, or leveraging regional trends. Biti's, a prominent Vietnamese footwear company, adeptly capitalizes on Asian K-pop cultural influences and celebrity endorsements to boost its brand appeal across Asia. Their strategic use of regional design elements and cultural motifs in product design resonates with diverse Asian markets. This approach has successfully expanded Biti's brand presence beyond Vietnam, showcasing an effective blend of modern fashion trends with local cultural sensibilities.

  • Invest in Technology and Innovation: Khanna’s portrayal of Asia as a hub of technological advancement underscores the need for Vietnamese companies to invest in innovation. Embracing new technologies, digitizing operations, and fostering a culture of innovation can provide a competitive edge. This is particularly relevant in sectors like fintech, e-commerce, and telecommunications, where Asia is leading global trends. Masan Group, while primarily known for its consumer goods, has made significant strides in integrating technology into its operations. The company has innovatively applied technology in its retail and consumer goods sectors to optimize supply chains, improve customer experiences, and expand market reach. For instance, their retail sector has incorporated advanced analytics and data-driven strategies to enhance store performance and customer engagement. This approach showcases how traditional industries in Vietnam can effectively leverage technology to modernize operations and stay competitive in an increasingly digital marketplace.

  • Build a Global Mindset: Finally, Khanna’s vision of a multipolar world where Asia plays a central role necessitates a global mindset. Vietnamese companies should cultivate international partnerships, participate in global forums, and stay abreast of international trends. Building a workforce with global exposure and skills can enhance a company’s ability to operate effectively in diverse markets.  VNG Corporation, initially famous for its online gaming success, has expanded its portfolio to include a wide range of digital services, including cloud services, digital payments, and social media platforms. The company's commitment to innovation is evident in its continuous development of new technologies and services tailored to the needs of the digital era. VNG's growth and diversification demonstrate how Vietnamese companies can harness technological advancements to remain competitive and relevant in the rapidly evolving digital landscape, not just in Vietnam but across Asia. MDT Training is proud to have done projects with VNG across the region since 2016.


"The Future is Asian" by Parag Khanna is a critical resource for Vietnamese companies aiming to navigate the complexities of an increasingly interconnected and Asia-centric world. The book offers a wealth of knowledge that can help businesses understand the shifting global dynamics and position themselves strategically for the future. As Vietnam continues to emerge as a key player in the region, the insights from Khanna’s work are more relevant than ever.


For leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in Vietnam, this book is an essential read. It provides a deep understanding of the factors shaping Asia's future and offers a roadmap for navigating these changes. By applying the learnings from this book, Vietnamese companies can not only drive revenue growth but also become influential players in the Asian century. I recommend this book as a guide for those looking to understand and capitalize on the opportunities presented in this dynamic and evolving landscape. We at, MDT Training are always looking for new knowledge that can help our clients drive growth and a competitive advantage. Reach out to MDT Training today to learn more.

About the Blog Author: Mike Hebert is the Founder of MDT Training. Country Commercial Director at Cognita School Group, and President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam. With 8 years of experience in Asia working in startups, corporations, and NGOs, he has a wide network and experience in the region. Click Mike's for his LinkedIn Profile

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