Kishore Mahbubani says COVID-19 won't stop China's rise

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These days for China there's been an economic slowdown a trade and technology war with America. One of the few issues of bipartisanship in today's Washington then there have been protests in Hong Kong global criticism of Beijing's treatment of the Muslim minorities not to mention Western anxiety about the role of Y in those five G. networks and don't forget the allegations of Chinese interference in sovereign states across the region. Add to this. The outbreak of corona virus or covered nineteen and silently some pundits and they mainly in the West. They're asking whether we're witnessing communist China's Chernobyl moment what do you think well one distinguished intellectual who profoundly disagrees with all this skepticism. He's my guest today. Kishore Mahbubani is distinguished fellow. The Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore a former ambassador to the UN twice and a former foreign secretary of Singapore case. Your has risen several influential books on Asia and the rise of China the lightest one is called has China won the Chinese challenge to American Promessi as published by public phase in New York Keisha. Welcome back between the lines. My pleasure there'd be back now you've heard all these. These dial warnings about China and as I say they mainly come from listeners. What do you disagree well? I think it's absolutely certain that the return of China to his place as the number one economy in the world cannot be stopped because from the year one to the eighteen twenty or eighteen hundred of the last two thousand years the two largest economies of the world were always those of China and India so the past two hundred years of Western domination award. History have been an aberration. All aberrations come to a natural end and China's return cannot be stopped. And that's absolutely set. You say in your book that if Xi Jingping does not put in place San Succession mechanisms. America could win this geopolitical contest and bear in mind just a couple years ago. She overturned legislation on. Term Limits for presidents essentially might himself later for life. Some of these critics say that. How does that promote good governance for China and a sound succession mechanism? That will allow China to Rosza Unabated well I would say that the history of China has taught them when they have strong central government. The people benefit a lot. When this week government they suffer a lot and you look at a hundred years of humiliation. That China's suffered from the first opium war of Eighteen. Forty two right until the establishment of the People's Republic of China in nineteen forty nine. The main reason why they went through one hundred years of humiliation was because they had weak central government so what Xi Jinping has given to China is once again very strong central government this is an asset for China. I think he's going to be around as Vita for a long time. And as long as he's around. I think China will do very well. Okay will you say that this geopolitical contest that's broken out between America and China? That will continue marathon. Rice does that mean that Beijing and Washington a doomed to confrontation. Well the the reason why. I'm producing my book now. Has China one his precisely because I want to avoid a confrontation in my. I think it's absolutely unnecessary for the United States and China to get entangled in this confrontation because at the end of the day the primary goal of the United States government is to improve the wellbeing of the American people than the best way to improve the well being of the American people especially in this call. The crisis is to work with China and not work against China but of course unfortunately the United States has other goal and is the primary goal of the United States is to maintain primacy in the global order. Then that will lead to confront To leading American proponents of containing China. John Shaw. The University of Chicago Have Stephen. Walt whom you quoted approvingly in your book about the perils of American Hubris and exceptionalism but on China I disagree. They say I've been guests on this program and I've made this point Measham and casual. They say that a rising China does indeed threaten the regional status quo and Washington moreover will and should go to great lengths to ensure that China does not dominate the Asia. Pacific your response. Well I think the question is whether or not they can both live with each other In the region if if the United States by the way you know all the countries in this region many of them one the United States will remain strong player in this region. I think it'd be good for the region to have United States. Remain as strong Leah. By United States can remain a strong player without on fronting China. He can remain a strong player by working with China In in in many critical areas. And frankly if you ask the countries in the region What they would like to see they would like to see a strong China and they would like to see a strong United States. But they don't want to be forced to choose within China and the United States and we'll get to this question about choosing later on in the show but I want to stick with America. There is a consensus in the region. That America should stay but Foreign Affairs magazine. This is the Distinguished New York Journal to Achieve. Contributed this month. It faces a range of top. Foreign Policy Thinkers. They're all weighing on whether or not the. Us is in the process of global retrenchment The cover of Australia's leading Foreign Affairs Journal. This month is is called can trust America So Am I right in saying you? Don't think American showing any signs of withdrawing from Asia. Now I see no signs at all America retreating from the region and And I think that very strong as you know policy in America is to some extent made by the president but is also made by the deep state and the deep state has a very strong consensus that they got to remain very strongly Industry region. So I don't see an American of withdraw anytime in the near future but I do I do argue that the United States has got to behave differently. With China net once had One tenth the size of China's of America's GNP retailers but today China's be GNP BB. Dems is bigger than the United States. So you behave differently. Was this animal. What about that? Animals DASA more assertive. Now in your book and you listening to Katia Mahbubani. We're chatting about his new book. Has China one in your new book as show you dedicate a chapter to the question is China expansionist and you say basically China wants to respect global rules and norms but let's face it. It has ignored the ruling from the UN's Permanent Court of Arbitration. That was at The Hague in two thousand sixteen. The high concluded for those of you listening who've forgotten about this this is four years ago. Chana's conduct around the Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly islands it was illegal and let's remember Beijing has continued to build up a military prisons on artificial Alan's at drive out local fishermen and in the last few months case. Short Sean has been bullying Indonesia over the Natuna islands. How is all this respecting global order? Well you know one point. I emphasize said there were people talk of benevolent. Great Powers Turn Benevolent Grid. Power is an oxymoron. So as you know the United States today has not ratified the law. The Sea Convention. So in in some areas as China emerged behaving exactly the United States. The United States would never accept going to a tribunal to judge whether or not the United States valid or invalid claiming any area in that respect. China is behaving like the United States by just as the United States. Most of the time respects most international rules and conventions China. Also most of the time respects most of international rules in confections in many ways. China's behavior and America's behaviour is very similar in the international arena. Your critics would say that. China's maritime climbs a contested by the Philippines Malaysia Brunei Indonesia Vietnam Beijing has antagonized nations log New Zealand Australia with cyber attacks and and political interference. Nightside casual these. Not Diplomatic Wins for president. She hasn't he made some big mistakes. Well I it's it's it's interesting. It's always the rest. That is screaming very loud on this South China Sea When was the last time you heard a very strong statement from militia All of all of Philippines On the South China Sea. Why you're seeing behind. What is happening behind the scenes is a lot of diplomacy that is not reported in the Western media. Now I cannot comment on the side of the tax on Shelia and New Zealand but I I believe it was Edward Snowden revealed to us that if you live in today's world you can assume that anything you put up. There is being monitored completely by the National Security Agency of the United States. So I think what the world needs is new conventions in the cyber area and the world should work together do agree on some set of rules for what you can or cannot do in terms of cyber hacking spoke with the New Zealand professor. Anne Marie Bridie last week on this program and she told us about three investigations into Chinese interference in politics that a currently underway in New Zealand. But we WANNA go there now and finished your point. I was quite struck by a law in in your book. He sure well. You talked about the Chinese reluctance to conquer Australia quote. Future historians will marvel at the fact that even though Australia is geographically close to China. It was physically. It was physically occupied in conquered by far more distant British forces absolutely true. I mean if China was an expansionist power wrenching. Her travel all the way to Africa. He could have easily gone to Australia. Additional Australia. Remarkable accident of history. That Australia was colonized by British forces than not Chinese. I mean future. Historians will marvel. The anomaly visits Tom Switzer. On our in 'em I guess is Keisha Mahbubani the former foreign secretary of Singapore and President of the UN Security Council. He's now a distinguished fellow at the National University of Singapore. We're talking about his new book. Has China one now for some of Iran's listeners in Venice Matas whether your overstating China's rise and I WANNA put to you this very rule weakness in limitation surely because many analysts They argue that there's a ticking bomb in China it's low birthright and the aging population and this is the argument that will reduce the workforce and could potentially break social security system. How would you respond to those critics? Oh that's absolutely no question. That China faces a lot of serious Internal Challenges. Because you know it is to instill a developing country It's CABBIE DYING IF I get it right. It's still about ten thousand dollars. One-sixth debt of the United States has a long way to go before it becomes fully developed country. And that's precisely why China wants to focus on its internal development and not get dragged into an all-out geopolitical contests with the United States. So you notice that China wherever possible is trying to avoid getting entangled with the United States even though the United States clearly is challenging the United States challenging the United States charging China In many

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