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National University of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
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Power is Shifting to Asia. Are You?
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
National University of Singapore
The rise of China, India and more broadly Asia as a whole has fundamentally changed our world. The change has been so swift that it has outpaced the established theories to explain such phenomena. How can we explain the way in which China, under an authoritarian regime, has risen so rapidly without confrontation with the incumbent hegemon—the United States—but is instead creating deep interdependence between them? How can globalisation, which was initiated and assertively pushed by the West, have resulted in the developing East accumulating wealth while the developed West piles on debt? Further, how can market forces be managed by the visible hand for continuous delivery in the Asian countries? And also, why has the “Jasmine Revolution” not happened (yet) in China and other Asia-Pacific countries where rapid economic growth has led to an increase in demand for greater political participation? Indeed, while the dominant international relations theories—realism, (neo) institutionalism, constructivism and liberalism, all generalised from the Western experiences, struggle to answer these questions, the center of gravity in economics and geopolitics is decisively shifting to the East.
At the Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) School of Public Policy, our study on major power relations, and in particular the relationship between China and India, reveals that notwithstanding conflicting interests and geopolitical mismatches (key factors that lead to war, according to the realist school), cooperation between China and India is not only desirable but achievable, as globalisation has created growing interdependence leading to a shared stake among great powers in maintaining peace and stability in an increasingly integrated world.
Further, our research on Asia’s rise has found that government intervention is not just helpful but necessary to sustain a healthy economic development. Moreover, given that virtually all the Asian nation-states were established in the struggle against either colonialism or Western intrusion, the top priority of the ruling elites in Asia is not to build up inclusive political institutions but to deliver good governance and economic growth. This is because the legitimacy of government power in Asia is still based on performance rather than procedure. Whether a government actually governs is a critical element in nation-state building in Asia. Finally, our study on regional institutions such as ASEAN, APEC and East Asia Summits shows that pragmatism under principally accepted norms, rather than abiding rules as suggested by the theory of institutionalism, is the key to their success.
Strategically located at the heart of Asia-Pacific, the National University of Singapore’s LKY School has gathered top-notch faculty from twenty-odd countries and over 350 students from more than 50 countries to study the on-going transformation of Asia and indeed the world. The research and education carried out at the LKY School reflects our conviction that the next generation of global leaders will operate in a world radically different from that of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The aim therefore at the LKY School is to enrich and expand the worldviews and professional networks of our students, so that they can provide better leadership to their societies in managing the major global trends.
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