While Asian Century unfolds, China should keep patient among doubts
Updated 19:59, 26-Nov-2019

Editor's note: As unilateralism and protectionism deeply impact the international order currently, rumors about "China being a threat to liberalism" or "declining Asia power" frequently hover around. It seems that China, and even Asia, has become a target for certain groups to bad-mouth economically and geopolitically. CGTN spoke to Kishore Mahbubani, a distinguished fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, on the sidelines of Understanding China Conference in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, to have his insights on Asia Century and China's role in liberalism. The views expressed in the video are his own and not necessarily those of CGTN.

CGTN: Some commenters believe the "Asian Century" is ending far faster than anyone could have predicted. Do you still hold your opinion on Asia's power?

Mahbubani: All the people who are saying that the Asian century is ending are sadly exposing their ignorance so publicly. And I feel embarrassed for them because there's no question that Asian countries will continue to grow and do well.

They may not grow at 12 percent or 10 percent. It doesn't matter. If you grow at six percent, you double your economy every 12 years. If you grow at five percent, you double your economy every 14 years.

And the world's most populous country, China, can grow at five or six percent; India can grow at five or six percent; ASEAN can grow at five or six percent.

You add up the population of China, India, and ASEAN. It comes to three billion people. If three billion people are growing at five percent a year, this is the beginning of the greatest Asian century ever.

CGTN: Do you think China is a threat to liberalism?

Mahbubani: I had a debate with H.R. McMaster, former national security adviser of the U.S., in the Munk Debates. And I said that the one mistake made when people look at China, [was that] they confused the liberal domestic order with the liberal international order.

Now, China is not going to have a liberal domestic order. China's political system is different, but that's not what the debate is about. The debate is about the liberal international order.

And over the past 40 years, China has begun becoming the biggest beneficiary of the liberal international order. So it's quite natural for China to become the strongest supporter of the liberal international order, as demonstrated by the two speeches that President Xi Jinping gave in Davos and in Geneva when he was there, I think, in January 2017.

So it is completely wrong to say that China is opposed to the liberal international order because China, as a country, likes to live under rules-based order. And the liberal international order at the end of the day is a rules-based order.

CGTN: How should China react to the discourse of being a threat to liberalism?

Mahbubani: In my view, China is adopting the right policy in being very calm, patient, and pragmatic in dealing with a very troubled West. It's important to understand that the people of China feel a great sense of hope for the future, and they are confident their lives tomorrow will be better than today.

But the bottom 50 percent in America don't feel optimistic for the future. In fact, the bottom 50 percent in America haven't seen their standard of living raised for the past 30 years. It remained stagnant and the bottom 50 percent in Europe don't feel a sense of hope for the future too. So China should understand that their populations are [in] trouble and (China should) be patient and calm and pragmatic.

Interviewer: Yang Chuchu
Videographer: Gao Chong
Video editor: Zhang Rongyi
Producer: Bi Jianlu
Chief editor: Pei Jian
Supervisor: Mei Yan

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)