Beijing, October 31 (Xinhua): The Chinese people have seen great improvement in their standards of living over the past 40 years, while the average income of the bottom half of Americans has remained almost stagnant for decades, a renowned Singaporean scholar has said.
China is humanity’s oldest continuous and one of its greatest civilizations, Kishore Mahbubani, a distinguished fellow at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore, said in a recent interview with Xinhua, highlighting factors for China’s successful development today.
China’s willingness to learn from the rest of the world is a huge asset, said Mahbubani, adding that four decades of peace has also been a key element.
Mahbubani has served as the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore, and Singapore’s ambassador to the United Nations. He was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019.
Chinese civilization has proven itself to be one of the strongest and most resilient civilizations in history, he said in his book Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy, released last year.
If there is an index to measure the relative strength and resilience of different civilizations based on their real performance over more than 2,000 years, the Chinese civilization could rank number one, he added.
“The United States is the only society, only developed society where the average income of the bottom 50 percent has basically remained stagnant for three decades,” he told Xinhua.
“Today in America, the middle class has been shrinking in significant ways,” he said, adding that “the equality of opportunity that used to exist in the United States has been eroded in recent decades.”
In the area of social and economic rights, Mahbubani said “it’s clear that the bottom 50 percent, bottom 30 percent, bottom 10 percent have seen a deterioration in their standard of living and that’s an area where the United States is not doing well.”
The biggest challenge facing the United States today is that it has become a plutocracy, he said.
The U.S. political system is moving from being a democracy to becoming a plutocracy, betraying the ideals of its founding fathers, Mahbubani said in the book, adding that the U.S. system has effectively created a new moneyed aristocracy.
He noted that the priority of the U.S. government should be taking care of its bottom 50 percent. However, many American governments have deployed resources to fighting illegal wars overseas instead.
The United States is facing severe political, economic and cultural challenges, he said in his book, adding that it appears that the United States today lacks “spiritual vitality,” an idea raised by one of the wisest U.S. strategic thinkers George Kennan.
When Kennan was advising the United States on how to manage its competition with the former Soviet Union, he noted a country has four limbs: an awareness of its own situation, coping successfully with its internal problems, a sense of global responsibility, and having a spiritual vitality.