Summary of How the West Can Adapt to a Rising Asia

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China’s meteoric rise to become the world’s second-largest economy and a major global power stunned the world, including the West, which has dominated the international order for the past 200 years. But if the West had paid close attention, Asia’s emergence – or re-emergence – wouldn’t have come as a surprise, according to geopolitical analyst Kishore Mahbubani. With pragmatism and faith in the enduring potential of Western civilization, he offers a refreshing take on an issue that has evoked much anxiety and pessimism in the West.

About the Speaker

Kishore Mahbubani is a distinguished fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute. As a diplomat, he served twice as president of the United Nations Security Council.

 

Summary

Western civilization’s dominance within the international order since the early 1800s is an “aberration.”

For almost two millennia, China and India consistently boasted the two largest economies in the world. But in about 1820, Europe and subsequently North America began to command the largest share of global economic output.

As the West began to dominate economically, it exported its “art of reasoning” to the world. Asia thereby began to adopt the core features of the Western system, which led to “three silent revolutions” in Asia. First, Asia adopted Western free market economics, which posits that letting markets make decisions is the most efficient way to increase productivity. Second, Asia borrowed the Western belief in free will and self-determination, which led to the proliferation of entrepreneurship throughout Asia. Third, Asia began to implement Western principles of good governance...


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