A Conversation with Kishore Mahbubani: Asia Research Institute

A Conversation with Kishore Mahbubani, Distinguished Fellow at Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore and Executive Director & Strategic Counselor APCO Worldwide, Ambassador Tim Roemer


On July 7, Kishore Mahbubani and Ambassador Tim Roemer joined USISPF members on a webinar to discuss the insights shared in Mahbubani’s new book, Has China Won?, which was released on March 31, 2020. Mahbubani is the former Singaporean Permanent Representative to the United Nations and current Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, while Ambassador Tim Roemer is the former U.S. Ambassador to India and, currently, Executive Director and Senior Counselor at APCO Worldwide, as well as a member of the USISPF Board of Directors. Both speakers brought extensive experience and expertise to their discussion of the “contest” between the U.S. and China, and the impact of this contest on India’s relationship with both countries.

Some of the key takeaways of the discussion – and Mahbubani’s book – were the need for a “comprehensive, thoughtful, and long-term strategy” in the U.S.’s approach to China and for the two countries to balance competition with cooperation. Mahbubani also points to China’s strategic mistake in alienating the U.S. business community through forced technology transfers and intellectual property violations. In terms of how tense relations between the two countries impact their respective relations with other countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including India and the ASEAN bloc, Mahbubani highlighted that no country wants to be forced to choose between the U.S. and China, but there is a “huge reservoir” of goodwill to the U.S., particularly in ASEAN, which the U.S. can cultivate through a nuanced diplomatic approach.

Speaking on India, Mahbubani described India as occupying a “geopolitical sweet spot” as the “most courted” country in the world, with many opportunities. In terms of U.S.-India relations, he highlighted the benefit to the U.S. of having “a close, trusted relationship with an independent India,” and pointed to the number of influential Indian-born leaders in the U.S. business community.

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