DONALD MORRISON Editor, TIME AsiaMost mornings I have breakfast with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee or Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad. Usually they speak to me from the front pages of the local newspapers. Occasionally, however, I actually talk to them in person. You can do that when you live in Asia. It may be a region embracing thousands of kilometers and a couple of billion people, but it sometimes seems like a small town. Leaders are accessible, personal contacts are important, nuance is everything.Asia's distinctiveness is much on my mind lately. A milestone is rapidly approaching: TIME moved its Asian edition to Asia almost five years ago. We now have a staff of nearly 30 writers, editors, reporters, art directors, picture editors and other professionals in Hong Kong--plus correspondents throughout the region--deciding what stories go into the issue and then producing them. Asia may sound like a natural site for this task. But astonishingly, certain international publications still run their Asian operations out of New York, London or some other distant city. Maybe that once made sense: economies of scale, the preeminence of the West, consistency of ... um, something or other. But times have changed. Asian readers are less interested in the latest pronouncement from Foggy Bottom or Whitehall--and the networks' reaction or the buzz in the Hamptons. Asians have their own complex societies and economies and, especially now, special problems. Of course the globe is shrinking--and TIME still covers all of it--but often the landscape looks different from Asia.Consider the latest Olympic scandal, the subject of this week's cover story and a global issue if there ever was one. To Asians, the high jinks in Salt Lake City should be discussed alongside the growing controversy over how Nagano won last year's Winter Olympics--as we do in this issue. Someone who looks at the world from Mayfair or midtown Manhattan might overvalue Monica Lewinsky's place in history while missing the subtleties of Malaysia's capital controls, China's troubled itic investment firms, or India's cricket series against Pakistan--three subjects we tackle this week. And being in Asia makes it easier to get Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew to write an article on the global economy, as he does in this issue.So I gaze out my window at the South China Sea, not the Thames or the Hudson. In a minute, I'll get more coffee and phone Singapore--it's in my time zone--about a few minor changes Lee wants to make in his copy. You can do that when you live in Asia.