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Dialogue with Lord Chris Patten on Europe and the rise of China and India

06 September 2010

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS AT BRUNCH DIALOGUE: (From left) Chairman of NUS' East Asian Institute Prof Wang Gungwu and wife Mrs Margaret Wang; Lady Lavender Patten; Chancellor of the University of Oxford Lord Chris Patten; Singapore President and NUS Chancellor His Excellency Mr S R Nathan; NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan and wife Dr Evelyn Lee and NUS Vice President (University and Global Relations) Prof Lily Kong
China and India are two giants to be reckoned with and Europe views the rise of the two countries with considerable interest. The Right Honourable Lord Chris Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of the University of Oxford and former Governor of Hong Kong, was speaking at a brunch dialogue at NUS on "Europe and the Rise of China and India" hosted by Singapore's President and NUS Chancellor His Excellency Mr S R Nathan on 5 September 2010.

The dialogue was chaired by Chinese historian Prof Wang Gungwu, Chairman of the East Asian Institute, and Board Chairman of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS.

At the event, NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan said: "NUS and Oxford University enjoy warm and close ties, a relationship that we have had the privilege of building over the years. As members of the International Alliance of Research Universities, both NUS and Oxford also share a commitment to global interactions as a key strategy for our universities in the 21st century."

Addressing some 100 guests comprising key opinion leaders, staff, students and researchers from NUS, Lord Patten first presented the historical context behind how China and India became the economic giants of today. However, he cautioned Asia not to be too hubristic about the rise of the two giants, as while Asia is home to three-fifths of the world's population, it only accounted for one-fifth of global consumption. By contrast, the United States is responsible for 30 per cent of global consumption.

On how Europeans perceived the rise of China and India, Lord Patten shared about a recent visit to India with British Prime Minister David Cameron. The latter recognised that the India of today was investing more in Britain than Britain investing in India. This illustrates the economic capabilities and advantages possessed by emerging countries such as India.

In terms of the political consequences of the transformation of China and India, Lord Patten noted that the institutional governance established earlier no longer reflected today's political balance.

He later fielded questions which touched on the role of the European Union (EU) in sovereignty issues, the possibility of forming a trans-Atlantic free trade alliance, the EU's plan to recognise China's economy, and whether Europe would align itself with the United States with the rise of China and India.

Lord Patten has a long and illustrious career in public service and international relations. He was the 28th and last Governor of Hong Kong until its handover to the People's Republic of China in 1997. He served as the EU's Commissioner for External Relations from 1999-2004. Since 2003, he has been the Chancellor of Oxford University. His current appointments also include being Co-Chair of the UK-India Round Table. Lord Patten has written a number of best-selling books on international politics which include "What Next? Surviving the 21st Century" and "Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths About World Affairs".