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Home» News» News» Global» [Beijing Forum 2013] Kishore Mahbubani: West, be Humble; East, be Confident

[Beijing Forum 2013] Kishore Mahbubani: West, be Humble; East, be Confident

Peking University, Nov. 2, 2013: Professor Kishore Mahbubani is Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is a notable academic and former Singaporean diplomat who previously served for 33 years in Singapore's diplomatic service and is recognized as an expert on Asian and world affairs.



In recent years, his articles have been published on famous journals as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy and books been translated into many other languages. In 2010 and 2011, Prof Mahbubani was selected as one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers. In recognition of his accomplishments, Professor Mahbubani was invited by Beijing Forum 2013 to be a Keynote Speaker at the Opening Ceremony.


Q: Professor Mahbubani, it is really an honor to meet you here in Beijing Forum. And your speech about the coexistence of the East and the West is really inspiring and thought-provoking. Would you please share with us your main point on the conflicts between East and West?


A: One of my big arguments is that for the last 200 years, the West has been such a successful civilization. But now other civilizations are rising up to catch up with the West. So the West is stepping in the world not being the sole strong civilization. My big message is that the West should begin to learn to be humble.


Q: The West should be humble? What about the East?


A: Well the East I think is really being humbled. We must be more confident about our abilities. (a burst of laugh)


Q: As is known, China and Singapore are two crucial economies in the Asia-Pacific Region. Is there anything we share in common? Your country Singapore is one of the rare developed countries in the East.For developing countries, big or small in this region, would you like to talk about your most valuable or applicable experiences?


A: Just as I stated in my speech, 5 norms are important, for example, norms of free-market economy, science and technology, social contract and multilateralism. These are what are driving the world together.


Q: In your notion, what should go the foremost frontier in the world, whether it should be the civilization or the economy?


A: I think that economic development is very important. Culture and economy must work together. Economic growth helps to bring civilizations together.


Q: What do you think of Chinese culture’s role in the harmonizing eastern and western culture?


A: Actually I am great confident that China will contribute more and more to the world. I am confident.


Introduction of Prof Mahbubani


Prof Mahbubani is best known for his diplomat identity. With the Singaporean Foreign Servicesfrom 1971 to 2004, he had postings in Cambodia (where he served during the war in 1973-74), Malaysia and Washington, DC. He was appointed the Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Ministry from 1993 to 1998 and later, Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In that role he served as President of the United Nations Security Council in January 2001 and May 2002.His academic career began when he was appointed as the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is also a Professor in the Practice of Public Policy. In addition, he was a fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University in 1991-92.He continues to serve in Boards and Councils of several institutions in Singapore, Europe and North America, including the Yale President's Council on International Activities (PCIA), Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, Indian Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council, University of Bocconi International Advisory Committee, World Economic Forum - Global Agenda Council on China and Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Nominating Committee.


As a global speaker and writer, Prof Mahbubani is best known for his books Can Asians Think?, Beyond The Age Of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World, and The New Asian Hemisphere: the irresistible shift of global power to the East.His articles have appeared in several leading journals and newspapers outside of Singapore, such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Washington Quarterly, Survival, American Interest, the National Interest, Time, Newsweek, the Financial Times and New York Times.His latest book is The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World (Public Affairs). These books have been translated into more than 8 languages and published in many countries.


He was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Gold) by the Singapore Government in 1998. The Foreign Policy Association Medal was awarded to him in New York in June 2004 with the following opening words in the citation: “A gifted diplomat, a student of history and philosophy, a provocative writer and an intuitive thinker”. Prof Mahbubani was also listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines in September 2005, and included in the March 2009 Financial Times list of Top 50 individuals (including Barack Obamaand Nicolas Sarkozy) who would shape the debate on the future of capitalism. Prof Mahbubani was selected as one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2010 and 2011.



Reported by: He Lingqi


Edited by: Zhang Jiang