East looks west

Reality does not bear out Niall Ferguson's picture of western decline against eastern ascendancy ("The triumph of the east", 26 June). What is Asia's intense desire for western ideas, culture and brands if not evidence of western ascendancy?

From Japan to India, liberal democracy, originating in Europe, is the dominant, if imperfect, system. South Korea's militant trade unions would do Arthur Scargill proud. Western scientists, researchers and laboratories continue to gain Nobel prizes and patents at a blistering rate. Asia still trails far behind.

The culture of individualism, imported from the west, is thriving in Asia's cities, along with popular music inspired by the Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Madonna and 50 Cent. Meanwhile, orchestras performing western classical music draw Asia's finest musicians. French handbags, Italian shoes and American jeans have never been so popular in the east. Just ask the counterfeiters. Do the nouveaux riches in China aspire to be chauffeured around in German or Chinese cars? The east still looks west.

David Fullbrook
Via e-mail