On Tuesday, February 17 in New York, the Asia Society Policy Institute will welcome its inaugural president, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, for a conversation on the future of Asia. Interviewing him will be veteran broadcaster and recently named Asia Society Trustee Charlie Rose.
Throughout his career, Rose has interviewed a number of major newsmakers from the Asia-Pacific region, including some of the continent’s most influential business and political leaders. On the eve of his conversation with Kevin Rudd, Asia Blog has compiled some of the most memorable interviews Rose has done with major Asian figures in recent years. (Complete interview archives online for The Charlie Rose Show date back to 2008, so earlier interviews were not included in this survey.)
1) Alibaba Founder Jack Ma (2015)
In late 2014, Asia Society Game Changer of the Year Jack Ma’s e-commerce company Alibaba went public in what was the largest IPO in history, and it made Ma the richest man in China. At the World Economic Forum in Davos four months later, Rose sat down with Ma to discuss the company’s 100 million daily shoppers and 30,000 employees. “Compared to 15 years ago we’re big,” Ma said. “But compared to 15 years [from now] we’re still just a baby.”
2) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (2014)
In late 2014, Rose conducted his second interview with President Rouhani on topics including ISIS and U.S.-Iran relations. Rouhani expressed hope that ties between the two countries would improve, but said the time wasn’t right for a meeting with President Obama. "We do not want to put on a show," he said. “Our people do not enjoy a show or theater certainly. That is something that the people of the United States do not either.” (See also: President Rouhani's 2013 discussion at Asia Society).
3) Roundtable on the legacy of the Tiananmen Square crackdown (2014)
On the 25th anniversary of the bloody 1989 suppression of the Tiananmen movement in China, Rose hosted journalists Evan Osnos and Nick Kristof, student leader Chai Ling, Xiao Qing of China Digital Times, and Asia Society’s Orville Schell. They discussed how the event came about and how it has shaped modern China. “China has changed a lot [since Tiananmen],” Xiao Qing said. “In many ways people’s lives are freer, but not in political freedom.”
4) Syrian President Bashaar al-Assad (2013)
Civil war had been raging in Syria for more than two years when President Assad granted a rare interview at his presidential palace in Damascus. The previous month, a chemical attack had killed hundreds of people in opposition-controlled districts near the capital. Assad was widely blamed (a charge he denied to Rose), prompting speculation that the United States might launch air strikes against Assad’s forces. When asked whether he would launch retaliatory attacks against the U.S., Assad replied, “You should expect everything.”
5) Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (2011)
Lee Kuan Yew has been called the “founder of modern Singapore” and is often credited with setting the city-state on a course of tremendous economic growth and steady democratization, though he’s also been characterized as authoritarian and intolerant of dissent. In 2011, Rose sat down with the then 88-year-old statesman to discuss world affairs and a country that many have compared to Singapore: China. At one point, Rose asks if China’s brand of state capitalism could be a model for the future. “State capitalism is not as effective as private capitalism,” Lee replied. “Would you stay up until two or three in the morning if it's not your company at stake?”