Kishore Mahbubani is an experienced Singaporean civil servant. He later became Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.
In 2015 he gave a talk at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics under the title “What Happens When China Becomes Number One?”
The video of the talk was uploaded earlier this year. The interesting part starts at 28:00 min where he begins to show a proverbial mirror to the audience.
He ends his talk with this:
Would the United States be comfortable living in a world where China behaves just like America did when it was the sole superpower?
Unfortunately U.S. President Joe Biden did not reflect on that question. In his speech today, before the United Nations General Assembly, he again displayed an unnecessary aggressive posture towards China:
Mr. Biden said the world faced a choice between the democratic values espoused by the West and the disregard for them by China and other authoritarian governments.
“The future belongs to those who give their people the ability to breathe free, not those who seek to suffocate their people with an iron hand authoritarianism,” he said. “The authoritarians of the world, they seek to proclaim the end of the age of democracy, but they’re wrong.”
But the president vowed not to pursue a new era of sustained conflict with countries like China, saying that the United States would “compete vigorously and lead with our values and our strength to stand up for our allies and our friends.”
“We’re not seeking — say it again, we are not seeking — a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocks,” he said.
To which Blake Hounshell correctly replies:
Blake News @blakehounshell – 14:55 UTC · Sep 21, 2021
Nobody ever says,
“I am seeking a new Cold War.”
I would also add that 650,000 people in the U.S. have lost their “ability to breathe free” over the last eighteen months while China has successfully suppressed the pandemic. Are ‘democratic’ or ‘authoritarian’ the right criteria for judging that difference?
In an answer to a question after his talk Mahbubani, who believes that China will soon be number one, he explains (58:00 min):
Unlike the United States of America the Chinese do not believe in proselytizing their believes. … So in a sense we will have a very different world when the world’s number one power is no longer a missionary power.
I for one hope for that.