HISTORY has taught us that tensions, deceptions and conflicts rise among civilizations when a new power emerges. But if a civilization, once faced with such crucial challenge, do not respond in a vigilant and cordial manner, it is bound to experience a lot of problems.

This is what Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore emphasizes in his latest book, “The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East.”

Mahbubani asserts that the West must welcome the emergence of the East and not try to resist it. For the Singaporean scholar, this is a “fundamental shift” in world history, and the mastery of science and technology by most Asians today confirms it.

Even Harry Kreisler, the executive director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, agreed with Mahbubani by concluding that the premise of the Singaporean scholar’s study is the “learning cycle” of world history — the West marched to teach the East, the latter learned but the former has seized to learn, whereas the East has built on what it learned from the West and is now navigating a new course.

Mahbubani explained the kernel of his work as neither an ephemeral nor a faltering transformation, but a prolific and serene prospect for the world in its political, economic, social and cultural affairs, because the East simply wants to be acknowledged as a co-driver of development with the West. Even though the East has been a patient bystander of the West’s industrious manner in mastering science and technology, economics, the rule of law, and pragmatism, a reversal of the thread is not what the East has in mind, but simply an equal partnership.

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This is a challenge for the West that only needs to be addressed with a rational and yet a genial response, in what should amount to the “Challenge and Response” of Arnold Toynbee, wherein “a civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor.”

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