Mahbubani: China Not Prepared to Be World #1, US Not Ready to Be #2

NEW YORK, February 6, 2013 — As the global distribution of power shifts towards Asia, world governments need to adjust to changes that come from that shift. One of the greatest geopolitical questions is the relationship between the world’s greatest power, the U.S., and the world's greatest emerging power, China. Singapore's veteran diplomat Kishore Mahbubani addressed these and related issues in a talk here with Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a leading global political risk research and consulting firm,

Author of the just-published The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World, Mahbubani warned of the danger of living in a political "illusion." By his and other estimates, within the next five to ten years China’s economy will be bigger than America's. Mahbubani shared an experience he had at the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos, where he discerned in Americans “a remarkable reluctance to conceive of a world where America is no longer number one,” and found that no senior American figure could even publicly acknowledge such an idea.

Equally dangerous, in Mahbubani's view, is China's reluctance to prepare for the consequences of its growth in power. In a world where the “global village” is shrinking and there is increased competition for resources, China has to prepare to address the resentment from the rest of the world from the increasing size of its “house.” However, Mahbubani qualified, the new leadership in China under Xi Jinping is showing signs of a more politically- and diplomatically-savvy China to the world.

Reported by Joao Hwang

Video: Highlights from the discussion (6 min., 26 sec.)

Related links:
Watch the complete program
Interview with Kishore Mahbubani
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