Click on the player below to listen to Kishore Mahbubani's talk or read City Weekend's live blog reporting on "The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistable Shift of Global Power to the East".
4:30 | Open to New Ideas "The West is a strange paradox, they have deep insecurity as well as a high degree of cultural arrogance. Young Europeans are some of the most pessimistic youth around believing they cannot surpass the success of their parents' generation. Because of this arrogance, many in the West still believe that the only way that countries can progress is to become Western but I believe that with progress in Asia, we'll see modernization and de-Westernization. For Western minds Western equals modern but this is wrong.
4:19 | The Silent Superpower "Everyone knows that China is on its way up to the top," says Kishore, but remarks that you think you'd see more signs of it in the West than we are. But he argues that the Chinese are managing their rise to superpower status by keeping it quiet and spreading the success through the areas nearest them, forming trade partnerships and such with surrounding nations like Korea and other Asian neighbors. "China has one of the best geopolitical performances around," says Kishore.
4:16 | Grab the Popcorn Kishore recommends the movie The Journalist and the Jihadist, an HBO or CNN documentary (we tried searching for it but information seems scarce) which serves as an illustration of how the world is so interconnected (though at the same time disconnected).
4:10 | The Other 51 Percent A member of the audience refers back to Kishore's comment that Asian countries are now just discovering the full potential of their talent pools and points out that American only discovered that women have minds a few decades ago. The audience member asks, "Is there is a similar problem is Asia?" Kishore notes that Asia has done, "reasonably well in educating their women." Also referring back to the discussion of US politics. Kishore said that Hilary Clinton would not be a great step forward for Asia since Asia has already had great female leaders. Although Kishore saw he might be stepping on a land mine, he also explained that "utilizing female will present a challenge in the Islamic world."
4:06 | Out of the Box An audience member asks Kishore for his views on China's ability to move beyond copying. Is there a bubble that will burst? Is there creativity and innovation here? Kishore seems to feel that not just China but Asia in general is very resilient. "The success of the Chinese (and the Indians) in Silicon Valley is a clear indication that they can be a part of that." Perceptions will change.
4:01 | India and China Kishore thinks the rivalry between India and China is an interesting one. One nation is a model of a more democratic model while the other is a communist model. But, "the Chinese political system will have to change," says Kishore. The Chinese watched what happened to Russia--"the Chinese have no desire to see the Russian experience replicated in China." But, he continues, there's a tendency to see things in the West as black and white but the reality is usually somewhere in between. "India is an open nation with a closed mind, China is a closed nation with an open mind," Kishore quotes. "The black and white view of India must be replaced by a more complex description."
3:55 | Kishore On Obama "The excitement about Obama is much more widespread than I'd anticipated," says Kishore. But despite the Obama hype, Kishore adds a note of caution. "There are deep structural issues with America's relation with the rest of the world. One man doesn't change everything. Not all of America's problems started with George W. Bush. The attacks on the World Trade Center began long before Bush--the first was in 1993. There are much deeper structural roots that must be addressed."
3:53 | Giving up Power Tina asks Kishore what the reaction has been to his book in Asia compared to the West. He says that there's a clear East / West tone to the reviews he's seen in the East and the West.
3:45 | Paint it Black The invasion of Iraq, NATO's problems in Afghanistan, the rift between the Muslim world and the West, global warming, the non-proliferation regime ... by Kishore's count, the instances of incompetence on the part of the Western powers in handling these situations is quite serious. A scathing critique though we have to wonder how many times people have heard these same comments before. Kishore seems to feel that most Western audiences would have a hard time accepting the West's role in the world's problems. We're all for giving credit where credit is due, maybe there's more credit due here? ... guess we'll see during question period how many of the Westerners in this audience get it or don't get it.
3:40 | Breaking Up with the Bretton Woods Sisters Kishore reminds the audience that despite the profound growth of economies in Asia, the head of the IMF is always European, the head of the World Bank is always American. The Security Council of the UN is made up of the old winners (the winners of WWII). These are ideas that come up regularly in many development and political studies courses. Those that go to these major political seminars to work toward the future, Kishore says, "are the leaders of the past, not the leaders of the future."
3:37 | Bringing in the Bad News The West has always seen itself as part of the solution to the world's problems. "In the Western mindset there is a very strong conviction that the problems are over there and the solutions are over here. But now the West is becoming a large part of many problems."
3:35 | On Islam All this progress is "poised to enter the Islamic world," says Kishore. "In the past, young people had two alternative: join the West or the Islamic conservatives. Today there is a third option: Islamic youth see the success of China and India on their own terms." If the march toward the modernity enters the Islamic world from Asia, it world be a better place. "It can happen."
3:33 | Finishing the High Notes The final pillars in Kishore's mind are the Rule of Law and Education. One has been embraced faster than the other in Asia. "You can see the deep hunger all over Asia for education," says Kishore. "You can see the hundreds of thousands of Asian that are studying in the U.S. ... those who come back are the yeast that let Asia rise."
3:31 | Peace The ultimate achievement is not in overcoming war but in eliminating the prospect of war, says Kishore, something that he says the EU has been able to do but that has not yet been achieved in Asia. "This is an enormous achievement," he says.
3:29 | Getting on the Copy Wagon Kishore credits Japan with kicking off the essence of the fourth pillar, pragmatism, embracing the move to copy the successes of other nations. The Asian Tigers followed this approach as did others. When Deng Xiaoping poked his head out later on, he saw that countries that he thought were behind China were ahead, so China began to do the same. This idea is characterized in one of Deng's famous quotes about why China is moving towards a more liberalized economy, "It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, if it catches mice it is a good cat."
3:24 | Soccer Superpower and Pools of Brains Why is Brazil a superpower in soccer? Because when they are looking for soccer superstars, they look in every class--the rich, the middle class, the lower class and the slums. They search each talent pool. But, he says, "In searching for economic talent, they look mostly in the upper in middle classes. They're not as likely to look in the slums." Talent comes from all realms of society. "But now the brains in Asia that were lost, are being pulled from the bottom and used. Asia has the largest pool of brains in the world." Kishore uses one of the most well known examples of this from India. In the middle of the 20th century, a child was born into the "untouchable class," but due to social reforms he was able to go to school--much like many of those untouchables who came for him. Although he was socially ostracized, he still got an eduction and won a scholarship to Columbia University, today he's India's Finance Minister.
3:18 | Portuguese Superstars A small country like Portugal, with 3-4 million people managed to be a major colonial power at one point in history. Even gobble up a piece of China all the way over at Macau. Says Kishore, "Asia is beginning to understand [the power of science and technology]." This is what Kishore calls the second pillar of Western history, the first being free market economics.
3:16 | Western Message of Fear Today Western leaders are developing a pattern in their speeches -- in all of President Bush's talks, the French Foreign Minister's addresses and even the Canadian ambassador's comments, leaders are says that, "We are moving toward a more dangerous world." Kishore's book in contrast is optimistic by saying that "with growth of Asia, the world is moving toward a happier, more stable world since the number of people who are responsible stake holders (mainly the middle class) is growing by leaps and bounds," says Kishore. "Asians have finally figured out the seven pillars of western wisdom they need to implement."
3:14 | 10,000 Percent Larry Summers, controversial former President of Harvard, quoted Kishore a statistic that compared the impressive 50 percent rise in living standards during one Western generation's life time during the Industrial Revolution to the 10,000 percent increase in living standards in Asia during one generation today. After a chat with James (Jim) Wolfensen, former head of the World Bank, and a short look into the facts, Kishore posits that this is in fact, true. An interesting thing to check would be what the change is in the rest of the world in comparison to this.
3:10 | On Empire Interestingly, Kishore feels that the West will remain dominant culturally / politically / economically for at least another century, but that rather than saying there is an ongoing rise of Asia, it's rather a return of Asia. For those who are familiar with their history, the last two centuries without an Asian power were an aberration. Before about 1820, the two largest economies in the world were China and India, so we are returning to a historical norm. Kishore continues and points out that a recent Goldman Sachs study that says that in the coming century, the top four economies will be China, India, the U.S. and Japan. Interestingly enough, no European economies are on this list.
3:07 | Beginnings We're pretty excited about this event and it seems a lot of other people are. The room is packed. Kishore begins by saying, "American tradition is to start with a joke. Asian tradition is to start with an apology. So, let me apologize for my bad joke!" People laughed, so it wasn't that bad. Read more about Kishore Mahbubani here.