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The Future is Asian
6 March @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The ‘Asian Century’ is even bigger than you think. Far greater than just China, a new re-ordering of Asia is taking shape over multi-civilisational region spanning Saudi Arabia to Japan, Russia to Australia, Turkey to Indonesia—linking five billion people through trade, finance, infrastructure, and diplomatic networks that together represent 40 percent of global GDP. China has taken a lead in building the new Silk Roads across Asia, but it will and cannot not lead it alone. Rather, Asia is rapidly returning to the centuries-old patterns of commerce, conflict, and cultural exchange that thrived long before Qing imperialism, European colonialism and the Cold War binary. As Asia becomes the centre of this new re-ordering, it will draw in many Asian and extra-regional powers, who will seek to have influence on these debates.
Dr. Parag Khanna’s new book The Future is Asian argues that Asia will be able avoid the geopolitics that other regions have been subject to. He attempts to show that the Belt & Road Initiative will not advance Chinese domination but rather accelerate Asia’s multipolarity, and asserts how nationalist leaders will increasingly put aside territorial disputes in favour of integration. He also explores social and economic trends, looking at Asia’s dynamic cities which will be both the hotbeds of next-generation digital innovation and the surveillance societies of the future. While Asian giants like China are rapidly moving into a vision of techno-autocracy, there are questions about how others – like India and Japan – will accommodate values around pluralism and rights.
The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to join the panel discussion touching on the themes of Parag Khanna’s new book ‘The Future is Asian’ with Mark Leonard, Dr. Alan Mendoza and James Rogers.
Parag Khanna is Managing Partner of FutureMap, a scenario planning and strategic advisory firm. He has been a fellow at Brookings, New America, and the Lee Kuan Yew School at the National University of Singapore, as well as an adviser to the US National Intelligence Council and US Special Operations Forces. Khanna holds a PhD from the London School of Economics, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.
Mark Leonard is Co-Founder and Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, the first pan-European think tank. He was previously Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geoeconomics and Director of Foreign Policy at the Centre for European Reform. Mark has spent time in Beijing as a visiting scholar at the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences. Honoured as a “Young Global Leader” of the World Economic Forum, he is a regular speaker and commentator on global issues, the future of Europe, China’s internal politics, and the practice of diplomacy and business in a networked world.
Dr. Alan Mendoza is a Founder and the Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society. He directs analysis, research focus, strategy and development for the organisation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Advisory Board of the Electric Infrastructure Security Council and the presenter of Current Affairs on the J-TV news channel. Alan is a frequent speaker at high-profile national and international events and conferences. He holds a BA and MPhil in History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; and a PhD at the same institution focusing on Anglo-American relations during the Bosnian War, 1992-1995.
James Rogers is Director of the ‘Global Britain’ Programme at the Henry Jackson Society, of which he is a founding member. Formerly, he held a number of positions at the Baltic Defence College in Estonia and has worked at the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris.
Signed copies of ‘The Future is Asian’ will be on sale after the event.
On 6th March, the Henry Jackson Society was delighted to host Dr Parag Khanna while he spoke about his latest book, “The Future is Asian.” Dr Alan Mendoza, Founder and the Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society, chaired the event while Dr Khanna, Mark Leonard, and James Rogers discussed the role of Asia in the global system.
Dr Khanna started the event by briefly giving an overview of key ideas from his book. He pointed out that Asia will always have a majority of the world’s population, especially as the global population is expected to plateau just under 10 billion, and focused on the impact that the demographics have on shaping the world system. Dr Khanna argued that we are in a long-lasting, stable, and multipolar period; while there may still be hierarchies among different systems and within systems, this is different than the past imperial hierarchies. As Asian nations begin to build their own international institutions, it becomes not what Asia has to offer the West, but a question of why Asia should allow the West into the new Asian system. Furthermore, Dr Khanna argued that the Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative unlocks pent up demand from fragile, post-colonial nations that desire the development of their infrastructure. Additionally, Dr Khanna argued that there is no “single” OBOR pattern, as the initiative differs between nations based on factors like national debt, proximity to China, etc.
Mark Leonard started by acknowledging that the book did a great job at attempting to shift the focus to Asia from the UK’s overemphasis on the Transatlantic relationship, for example. However, Leonard argued that Dr Khanna’s attempt to focus on Asia as a whole underemphasized China’s role in the future of Asia and the world. Leonard compared overlooking China to overlooking the UK or Germany in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. If the future is to be Asian, then one can argue that Asia will be Chinese. Leonard particularly pointed out the divergence between Xi Jinping and past Chinese leaders on whether to join the existing system or, as Xi desires, create a new, Asian system. Leonard concluded on pointing out that many Chinese citizens see the world as bipolar, with the US and China at opposing ends, rather than as the multipolar world that Dr Khanna described.
James Rogers, on the other hand, argued that while Asia will certainly play a role in the future, it will not be a defining factor. While there has been the rise of China and other Asian nations, Rogers argued that the control of power has been contiguous over time. While Asian countries have been developing, Rogers argued that it was unlikely for them to catch up to the West as quickly as some might assume. He credited the West’s development on a careful balance of liberty, democracy, and civic nation in a way that would be difficult to emulate.
Dr Khanna, both responding to Mark Leonard and James Rogers and concluding, stated that there was a tendency to fall back on Eurocentric examples. Looking at Asian history, the Mongols were the only ones to ever conquer all of Asia. Dr Khanna further argued that the focus on China was due to the fact that we live in the moment. He brought up the fact that countries have been viewed the way China is now, only to decrease in power over time. Even now, countries have the ability to negotiate and say no to China, unlike in the imperial past. As Dr Khanna emphasized, empires don’t always get what they want.