“Can Asians Think?” is the provocative title of a book written by Kishore Mahbubani in 1993. In the book, Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore, warned that the tide was changing and Asia had more to teach the West. The author underlined that it was time to break away from the colonialist thinking, “Can Asians think?” but to study what Asians think.
Twenty years later, Asia’s elevated status is demonstrated by economic figures. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) signed by 15 countries, including South Korea, China, Japan, and Australia in November last year was called the biggest free trade agreement (FTA) in the world since the combined population and gross domestic product (GDP) of the member countries totaled 2.2 billion and 26.2 trillion dollars, respectively. In his new book, Mahbubani affirms that the global landscape will be rewritten from “America First” to “Asia First,” introducing unknown sides of Asia.