The 21st century has seen a slowdown, halt and even some reversal of economic globalization, especially since the 2008 global financial crisis. The 2016 Brexit vote in the UK, and election of Donald Trump in the US—the two historic champions of the post-World War II rules-based liberal international economic order—have ushered in a period of uncertainty about the future of international economic relations.
But in 2017, China has stepped boldly into this vacuum, with President Xi Jinping declaring early in the year (at the World Economic Forum in Davos) his government’s support of globalization, and late in the year (at the Communist Party of China’s 19th Party Congress) the start of a “New Era” based on his Thought which will move China “closer to center stage” in the world.
President Xi’s Thought includes China “blazing a new trail for other developing countries” through advocacy of a “Chinese model of development” and his signature “Belt-and-Road Initiative” (BRI) of massive infrastructure and other investments in the developing world. Singapore and Southeast Asia are BRI countries, with Singapore the largest regional recipient so far of Chinese outward foreign direct investment.
This lecture will consider the likely contours of the reshaping global and Asian regional economic landscape, including the supposed “retreat of the West” and “rise of China”, and their implications for Singapore’s economic future. It will argue that Singapore’s destiny lies in closer non-economic as well as economic integration with its Southeast Asian neighbors, suggesting specific development paths and the systemic domestic changes required for this global-to-regional transformation to be quickly and successfully achieved.
About the Speaker
Linda Lim is a Singaporean economist who is uniquely qualified to address these important issues, based on her four decades studying the Singapore economy from her academic base in the United Sates, the University of Michigan (U-M), which has been engaged in Southeast Asia and China since the 1870s. She has done research on industrialization, labor markets and Overseas Chinese business in Southeast Asia, and served from 2005-2009 as Director of U-M’s Federal-government-funded Center for Southeast Asian Studies (founded in 1960). She teaches and is a frequent media commentator on China’s economy and international trade and financial relations, and served for 16 years sequentially on the boards of two US public companies with tech manufacturing operations in China, one of which was acquired by a Chinese listed company in 2016. She currently directs and teaches custom executive education programs at U-M for top managers of major Chinese state-owned banks and financial companies venturing abroad to both developed Western and developing BRI countries.
Professor Lim studied economics at the Universities of Cambridge (BA), Yale (MA) and Michigan (PhD), after which she taught economics at Swarthmore College in the US and did extensive consulting for United Nations and other international development agencies, and global companies. She has spent three decades teaching MBA courses on The World Economy and Business in Asia at U-M’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, where she is now Professor Emerita of Corporate Strategy and International Business. Her numerous publications include two recent books from Singapore’s World Scientific Publications–Singapore’s Economic Development: Retrospection and Reflections (edited, 2016) and Business, Government and Labor in the Economic Development of Singapore and Southeast Asia (2018). She is currently co-editing Singapore: The Future of a Legacy, for ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (2019).
Shuttle Bus Service: