For two centuries Asians have been bystanders in world history, reacting defenselessly to the surges of Western commerce, thought, and power. That era is over. Asia is returning to the center stage it occupied for eighteen centuries before the rise of the West.
By 2050, three of the world's largest economies will be Asian: China, India, and Japan. In The New Asian Hemisphere, Kishore Mahbubani argues that Western minds need to step outside their “comfort zone” and prepare new mental maps to understand the rise of Asia. The West, he says, must gracefully share power with Asia by giving up its automatic domination of global institutions from the IMF to the World Bank, from the G7 to the UN Security Council. Only then will the new Asian powers reciprocate by becoming responsible stakeholders in a stable world order.
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About the Author
Kishore Mahbubani is Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He has had a distinguished diplomatic career and is the author of Can Asians Think? and Beyond the Age of Innocence. In 2005, Foreign Policy magazine included him among the top hundred public intellectuals in the world.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kishore Mahbubani's examination of the rise of Asia and its implications for the world is most notable precisely because it is an Asian examination. A professor of public policy at the National University of Singapore, Mahbubani is one of Asia's most prominent intellectuals. His debunking of ideas that he diagnoses as Western myths and assumptions is trenchant and thought provoking. The book is at times controversial, circular and often repetitive, but always interesting. Mahbubani posits that Western countries attempt to export democracy through a system of international institutions that allow the Western minority to dominate the global majority. For Westerners, such viewpoints may be acutely uncomfortable, but understanding them is indispensable for those who wish to make sense of the emerging world order. This book offers a pertinent, important perspective on changing geopolitics. getAbstract recommends it to anyone seeking an insider's informed analysis of Asia's global role.
Although Kishore Mahbubani acknowledges the achievements of the West, he wants to convince his audience that the world would be better run if Asia were allowed to play a bigger role for that matter. In his definition of the West, Mahbubani seems to be at a loss with the characterization of Japan. He lumps Japan at times with the West, i.e., the U.S., Canada, the 27 members of the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand, and excludes the same country from that group at other times in his book. Furthermore, Mahbubani does not clearly explain why the rich Asian nations are so different from the rich Western nations that these two groups of nations need to be separated from each other. Rich nations, whatever their locations, present more similarities with each other than with the poor nations in how they are run. Mahbubani is at his best when he reviews the achievements of the West. He calls them the seven pillars of Western wisdom, i.e., free-market economics science and technology meritocracy pragmatism culture of peace rule of law and education. Mahbubani rightly reminds his audience that Japan became the first Asian country to successfully catch up with the West. South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong were next in joining the industrialized West. More recently, China and India have embarked on a journey to catch up with the other ¿Asian Tigers¿ and the West. Mahbubani comes to the conclusion that the West does not perceive the rise of Asia as a source of celebration. What Mahbubani apparently means is that the success of the ¿Asian Tigers¿ makes many Westerners uncomfortable assuming that these Westerners adhere to a zero-sum game mindset. Mahbubani correctly points out that the institutions governing the international political and economic system reflect the state of the world in 1945 C.E. As Ronald Findlay and Kevin O¿Rourke show with much clarity in Power and Plenty, Europe and its offshoots were accounting for a historically high share of world manufacturing activity, income, and political influence in that year. Mahbubani rightly pushes for several changes in the institutions governing the international political and economic system to account for the return of Asia to the forefront. Mahbubani reasonably pleads for broadening the permanent membership of the U.N Security Council to countries such as India and Japan. Similarly, Mahbubani is right to deplore how the top jobs at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are automatically allocated to America and Europe without due consideration to the candidacy of other qualified people from say, Asia. Mahbubani is at his weakest when he limits himself in pointing out the well-known blunders that the West has made in different regions of the world while ignoring multiple setbacks in his own backyard, i.e., Asia. Think for instance about East Timor, Aceh in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, North Korea, or Myanmar. To summarize, Mahbubani wrote a book of uneven quality that at times lacks both credibility and objectivity.