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Nations should stay on path of globalization, expert says

By WANG QINGYUN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-07-17 11:42

International cooperation with a view to globalization is necessary to address challenges in an increasingly interdependent world, former Singaporean ambassador to the United Nations Kishore Mahbubani said, urging countries to avoid retreating to nationalist thinking.

It's a pity that some Western countries are walking away from globalization and resorting to "decoupling "or "de-risking", Mahbubani, who is also former dean of National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said in an interview in Beijing.

In contrast, Asian countries, including China, are adhering to the process. China, which adopted the policy of reform and opening-up in 1978, seized the opportunity that globalization presented and has enjoyed fast growth over the past four decades, he said.

Home to 1.4 billion people, the country has also been contributing to globalization, with its huge market attracting businesses and investments from all over the world.

The country is also an active participant in different multilateral organizations and pacts that are aimed at facilitating free trade.

In January 2022, China became one of the first 10 countries to implement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. By June this year, the world's largest free trade pact, which covers 30 percent of the world's population and accounts for 30 percent of the global economy, took effect in all the 15 signatory countries.

Mahbubani said he was very impressed by President Xi Jinping's address to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2017, during which Xi shared with the world China's experience of overcoming doubts to embrace globalization.

"To grow its economy, China must have the courage to swim in the vast ocean of the global market," Xi said.

"We have had our fair share of choking in the water and encountered whirlpools and choppy waves, but we have learned how to swim in this process," the president said.

Mahbubani said China's development over the past four decades serves as a vivid example of how an economy will benefit from opening up to the world.

"By retreating from globalization the Western countries are going to damage their own economies," Mahbubani said.

The scholar also spoke highly of a series of global initiatives China has put forward.

Mahbubani likened all the countries around the world to more than 190 cabins on the same boat, and said there is no point in focusing only on protecting certain cabins if the boat faces the risk of sinking.

The Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, which were proposed by China, reflect the country's awareness of the importance of addressing challenges facing the "one fragile planet that is in peril", he said.

"I hope other countries will follow China's example and propose such initiatives," he added.

Speaking of the relations between China and the United States, which have drawn worldwide attention, Mahbubani said it would be "an unwise thing" for the US to try to stop China's development. Instead, the two countries should work together for "a new cooperative world order", said the former Singaporean diplomat.

"At the end of the day, the US has still got to fundamentally decide whether it can stop China's growth and development. I think it cannot," he said.

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