PARIS – Kishore Mahbubani, a prominent Asian voice from Singapore, and a man often highly critical of Europe, was recently asked what Asia could learn from Europe. His reply: Europe was above all the continent of peace, compassion, and cooperation.
“Asia” may not exist culturally, historically, religiously, socially, and economically, the way that Europe does. It is a much more varied continent. But “Asians” have been looking at, and reflecting upon, the European experiment for a long time. Enlightened Japanese elites are fascinated by Franco-German reconciliation. Could that model be applied to Japan’s relations with its former enemies, from Korea to China? And today, with the irresistible rise of a more assertive China, the European example of a continent where the prospect of war between traditional enemies – or contemporary rivals – has simply disappeared is more attractive than ever.