Asia’s Rise takes Centre Stage


Participants mulling intently over scenarios, possibilities, and insights at the Asia Rising Dialogue held at the Singapore Four Seasons Hotel

Close to 50 high-level political figures, business leaders and thought leaders from Asia and beyond gathered in Singapore on December 7, 2015 to participate in the exclusive “Asia Rising Dialogue.” Organised by the Asia Society in partnership with the S Rajaratnam Endowment, which is funded by Temasek Trust, the event was the concluding session of the “Asia Rising and Our Shared Future” dialogue series. With in-depth discussions in areas ranging from new geopolitics and multi-polarity, new trade architecture, economic challenges and opportunities, participants explored what it would take for Asia to achieve its full potential in a complex and uncertain world.

At the dialogue, Harvard University’s political scientist Prof Graham T. Allison gave the keynote address while Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, engaged in a keynote conversation with Mr Kevin Rudd, Former Prime Minister of Australia and President of the Asia Society Policy Institute. Following the dialogue, Dr Tony Tan, President of the Republic of Singapore, hosted the participants at the Istana for dinner, where he spoke about the need for Singapore to play a constructive role in regional affairs.

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About the keynote address by Prof Allison
The keynote address delivered by Prof Allison focused on the Thucydides’ Trap, a term he coined after studying ancient Greek historian Thucydides’ theories about the war between Athens and Sparta, the two big city-states of classical Greece in the 5th century BC. Prof Allison believes that even today “when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power, trouble ensues.” Read more about his views in an interview he granted to the Straits Times after the dialogue here.

About President Tan’s remarks at the Istana
Asia’s growth, the President noted, continues to be driven by the United States, China and Japan. Also, India’s “Act East” policy is expected to deepen its economic and strategic engagement in the region. Closer to home, the soon-to-be-formed ASEAN Economic Community -a common market with 625 million people in 10 countries with a combined gross domestic product of S$3.6 trillion – would create freer movement of trade and capital, he added. But there are dark clouds, the President warned. Territorial disputes in the South and East China Sea, the rising threat of terrorism and extremism, as well as growing nationalism, “if not properly managed, could derail the region’s growth path.” Read President Tan’s full remarks here.

Did you know…
Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew wrote that while competition between the US and China is inevitable, conflict is not. “The size of China’s displacement of the world balance is such that the world must find a new balance.” Mr Lee pointed out, “It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big player. This is the biggest player in the history of the world.” (Source: Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World – Belfer Center Studies in International Security)