“Our primary job is to use our scholarly skills to understand and explain contemporary developments in China — what its leaders are trying to do, the why and how, what is succeeding and what is not,” said Professor Wang Gungwu, Chairman of the NUS East Asian Institute (EAI) in his welcome address at the institute’s 20th anniversary celebrations. He said that the goal of EAI is to assist the government and people of Singapore to grasp the significance of changes in China and help them see the opportunities in working with China. Themed “China in a Transitional Global Order”, the EAI celebration also included a public forum and a conference, held on 24 May.
Guest-of-Honour Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean delivered the keynote address, sharing insights from his experiences working with China’s senior leaders. He spoke about China’s economic and social developments, and their international relations, in particular the Singapore-China relationship, as well as his hopes for China’s future. Describing the East Asian story as “an exciting and dynamic one, continuing to unfold”, Mr Teo said that China is a key player in the story, and that Singapore would need a good and deep understanding of the region’s dynamics and developments. “The demand for good research and analysis will only increase,” he said, encouraging EAI to build up its expertise and repute as a key institution on China and East Asian economies.
“Internationally, China is the world’s second largest economy, and is the largest trading partner of many countries. Whatever happens inside China will have a huge impact,” EAI Director Professor Zheng Yongnian said, setting the tone in his introduction to the public forum. The forum featured distinguished speakers who shared their insights on China’s role in the global environment and the potential implications. Topics covered included perspectives on US-China relations under the new US presidency, the Europe-China relations, as well as China’s perspectives towards globalisation.
The public forum was followed by the International Conference on the outlook for China’s 19th Party Congress: Leadership, Politics and Policy. The speakers at the conference delved deeper into the political development of China, progress made under President Xi Jinping’s leadership as well as looking at the challenges faced by China. Topics included an analysis of China’s party spirit, political reform and foreign policies.