Bright Hong Kong: Making globalisation work again

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Oxford Professor Woods believes that global elites may not have failed in communicating the benefits of globalisation for lack of speaking, but for lack of listening. Jasper Tsang, for one, is listening.

Photo (from left): Professor Ngaire Woods, Germán Muñoz, Jasper Tsang (credit: Bright Hong Kong)

Delivering his opening address at the fifty-third annual DPI/NGO Conference in 2000, the then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan asserted:“It has been said that arguing against globalisation is like arguing against the laws of gravity.” 17 years have gone by and world leaders are now struggling to cope with the rise of counter-globalisation forces back home instead of working with fellow elites to forge more cooperation for the sake of mutual growth.

On 22 March, 2017, Bright Hong Kong hosted a morning session led by Professor Ngaire Woods to discuss the way out for the seemingly outphasing concept which had served world economies so well for the past decades by generating wealth that lifted billions out of poverty, extended lifespans and reduced misery worldwide. Professor Woods is the inaugural Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, and a co-founder (with Robert Keohane) of the Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellowship programme.

She asserts that the rise of populism comes from a variety of factors including the disenfranchisement of those who have not kept up with the demands of globalisation. People feel like they are out of power, disrespected and not listened to. Those working in elite and national institutions have erred in believing that it was only a failure of communication, when in fact, it may be a failure in listening. Professor Ngaire Woods believes listening can be taught – must be taught, to aspiring future leaders. Indeed, all they learn now is how to project – public speaking and social media skills to spread their message – never mind anyone else’s.

Jasper Tsang, in particular, seemed interested in the idea that listening could be taught as a skill. The former LegCo president is a natural listener and, indeed, built a career in which one of his great virtues is his ability to listen to people in a way that they feel heard and respected. Much like a fish being intrigued by the idea that others could be taught to swim, he may be considering options for a post-politics career.

Other distinguished guests included:

  • Germán Muñoz, Founder & Director Bright Hong Kong
  • Carmen Cano, Head of the European Union in Hong Kong
  • Christopher Drake, Chairman of the University of Oxford’s China Advisory Group
  • Kathleen Ferrier, former member of the Dutch House of Representatives for the Christian Democratic Party
  • Alicia García-Herrero, Senior Fellow at Bruegel, Chief Economist at Natixis and a non-resident research fellow at Real Instituto El Cano
  • Daniel de Blocq Van Scheltinga, Chairman of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce and founding partner of Polarwide
  • Po Chi Wu, Professor at University of California, Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin Madison, the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University;
  • Andrew Work, Editor-in-Chief Harbour Times, Co-founder of The Lion Rock Institute;
  • Philip Herbert, Director, Strategy & Regulatory Affairs at Hong Kong Express Airways;
  • Erwin M Akbar, Consul (Economics) at the Consulate General of Indonesia;
  • Chris Thomas, Manager at Hong Kong Express Airways;
  • Ayo Chan Yi-ngok, founder of Governance Partners Yangon; and
  • Nova Marina Sirait, Master student of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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