21st Century Council

A forum for dialogue on global governance, with a focus on the G-20 as the governing body of globalization. Members include former heads of state, global entrepreneurs and political thinkers.

Council for the Future of Europe

This Council gathers a small group of the region's most eminent political figures to research and debate ways forward for a united Europe.

Think Long Committee for California

Develops comprehensive approaches to repairing California's broken system of governance while evaluating policies and institutions vital for the state's long-term future.

MEMBERS
Meetings
COUNCIL ACTIVITY
28 October 2014


Dr. Henry Kissinger 

Last November, over a period of two days on the eve of the Third Plenum of the CCP Central Committee, the 21st Century Council met privately in Beijing with both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, as well as top generals of the PLA, governors and Party secretaries from key provinces, and principal drafters of the wide-ranging Third Plenum reforms.

The purpose of the meeting -- organized by Zheng Bijian, author of China's peaceful rise doctrine, former doyen of the Central Party School, confidant of the leadership and a 21st Century Council member – was to expose our high-level global membership to the thinking and worldview of China’s leaders as they embark on a distinctly new course both domestically and internationally.

Larry Summers

21st Century Council participants in the meeting, entitled “Understanding China,” included 13 elder statesmen ranging from Britain’s Gordon Brown to Pakistan’s Shaukat Aziz to Mexico’s Ernesto Zedillo along with Singapore’s George Yeo and Russia’s Aleksei Kudrin. Participants also included global thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama, Fareed Zakaria and Kishore Mahbubani, as well as tech titans Eric Schmidt of Google, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn and Pierre Omidyar, co-founder of eBay.

In our conversation, President Xi explicitly raised the issue of the so-called “Thucydides trap,” saying that China was intent on avoiding any disruptive conflict of the kind that has historically erupted between established and rising powers.

In the months since our meeting, however, such a conflict has indeed threatened to break out over a series of issues ranging from China’s unilateral declaration of an air defense zone, to Japan’s claim over islands that China also claims, to cyber skirmishes between the US and China, as well as close encounters of Chinese and American military aircraft.

At the same time, other major world events, from Russia’s annexation of the Crimea to the emergence of the ISIS in Syria/Iraq and the return of US military action in the region, have further disrupted global stability.

Amartya Sen, Shaukat Aziz, Joe Stiglitz, and Nicolas Berggruen

Fearing that the world could be again splitting into blocs, and believing that the US and China must be the core of any future rules-based world order, the 21st Century Council has therefore sought to foster deeper mutual engagement and understanding between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies. Both need a better grasp of how each sees the other and how each sees their own role in a rapidly shifting global environment.

To that end, the 21st Century Council met in New York with Dr. Henry Kissinger, who advised the council on how to avoid the Thucydides trap in Asia.

25 November 2013


Chinese President Xi Jinping greets members of the 21st Century Council

Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council had the opportunity to gain a firsthand glimpse into the mindset of China’s new leadership during a rare, wide-ranging discussion with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in early November on the eve of the recent Third Plenum of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, which announced a broad array of reforms.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (6th L) with members of the 21st Century Council in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing

We also met with Premier Li Keqiang, top generals of the People’s Liberation Army and other ranking officials from National People’s Congress, key drafters of the new reforms, and governors and Party secretaries from Zhejiang, Guangdong and Yunnan provinces.

(see our recent Bloomberg column for our report and analysis. A fuller account of the meetings will appear in WORLDPOST in January.)

The meeting was jointly hosted by the Berggruen Institute, Zheng Bijian’s China Institute for Innovation and Development and the People’s Institute on Foreign Affairs.

The group also engaged in a full day of roundtable discussions on topics ranging from models of governance to social media.

The 21st Century Council members and guests in attendance, among others, included:

Shaukat Aziz, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan

Nicolas Berggruen, Chairman, Berggruen Institute on Governance

David Bonderman, Founding Partner, TPG Capital

Gordon Brown, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 

Juan Luis Cebrián, Chairman, PRISA

Ronnie Chan, Chairman, Hang Lung Group, LTD.

Francis Fukuyama, Author, The Strengths and Weakness of China’s Governing System

Felipe González, Former Prime Minister of Spain

Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn

Fred Hu, Chief Executive Officer of Primavera Capital, China

Arianna Huffington, Founder, President and Chair, The Huffington Post Media Group

Paul Keating, Former Prime Minister of Australia

Aleksei Kudrin, Former Russian Minister of Finance

Ricardo Lagos, Former President of Chile

Kishore Mahbubani, Author, The Great Convergence

Alain Minc, Founder, A.M. Counseil

Mario Monti, Former Prime Minister of Italy

Dambisa Moyo, International Economist

Pierre Omidyar, Founder, eBay

Nouriel Roubini, Co-Founder and Chairman, Roubini Global Economics

Kevin Rudd, Former Prime Minister of Australia

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google Inc.

Stephen Schwarzman, Chief Executive Officer, Blackstone Group

Wu Jianmin, Executive Vice Chairman, China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy

George Yeo, Former Foreign Minister of Singapore

Fareed Zakaria, CNN News Anchor

Ernesto Zedillo, Chairman, 21st Century Council

Zheng Bijian, Chairman, China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy

4 November 2013

Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council gained a firsthand glimpse into the mind-set of China’s new leadership during a rare, wide-ranging discussion with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in early November on the eve of the recent Third Plenum of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, which announced a broad array of reforms.

We also met with Premier Li Keqiang as well as top generals of the People’s Liberation Army and other ranking officials from National People’s Congress as well as governors and Party secretaries from Zhejiang, Guangdong and Yunnan provinces.

During our meetings the 21st Century Council had the opportunity to take off Western lenses and understand China’s strategy from their own perspective. The Chinese leaders see no contradiction between economic and social liberalization on the one hand and more political control on the other. In fact, in their minds, the latter is the condition for the former. Lightening up and tightening up are two sides of the same coin.

Only a strong state party at the center, in their view, can forestall conflicts abroad and push reforms forward against the vested interests of state-owned enterprises, local party bosses and the virtual “manufacturers of chaos” on the Internet. 

At the same time, Xi stressed that “the Chinese Dream” dream can only be realized by remaining engaged in today’s interdependent world. “The more developed China becomes,” he said, “the more open it will be. It is impossible for China to shut the door that has already been opened.“

Other topics we discussed included the G-20 and the new global architecture, whether China’s economic boom can last, the decision-making process in China, and social media and governance.

The meeting was jointly hosted by the Berggruen Institute, Zheng Bijian’s China Institute for Innovation and Development and the People’s Institute on Foreign Affairs.

The 21st Century Council members and guests in attendance, among others, included:

SHAUKAT AZIZ Former Prime Minister of Pakistan

NICOLAS BERGGRUEN Chairman, Berggruen Institute on Governance

DAVID BONDERMAN Founding Partner, TPG Capital

GORDON BROWN Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 

JUAN LUIS CEBRIÁN Chairman, PRISA

RONNIE CHANChairman, Ha ng Lung Group, LTD.

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA Author, ‘The Strengths and Weakness of China’s Governing System’

FELIPE GONZÁLEZ Former Prime Ministerof Spain

REID HOFFMAN Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn

FRED HU Chief Executive Officer of Primavera Capital, China

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON Founder, President and Chair, The Huffington Post Media Group

PAUL KEATING Former Prime Minister of Australia

ALEKSEI KUDRIN Former Russian Minister of Finance

RICARDO LAGOS Former President of Chile

KISHORE MAHBUBANI Author, ‘The Great Convergence’

ALAIN MINC Founder, A.M. Counseil

MARIO MONTI Former Prime Minister of Italy

DAMBISA MOYO International Economist

PIERRE OMIDYAR Founder, eBay

NOURIEL ROUBINI Co-Founder and Chairman, Roubini Global Economics

KEVIN RUDD Former Prime Minister of Australia

ERIC SCHMIDT Executive Chairman, Google Inc.

STEPHEN SCHWARZMAN Chief Executive Officer, Blackstone Group

WU JIANMIN Executive Vice Chairman, China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy

GEORGE YEO Former Foreign Minister of Singapore

FAREED ZAKARIA CNN News Anchor

ERNESTO ZEDILLO Chairman, 21st Century Council

ZHENG BIJIAN Chairman, China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy

FEATURED MEDIA
Globo TV
China Spectator
Bloomberg
- Nicolas Berggruen & Nathan Gardels
Outlook Weekly
- Huang Fu and Ping Li
Financial Times
- Gideon Rachman
Global Times
- Chen Yang
Washington Post
- Fareed Zakaria
China Central Television
Global Times
- Zhang Yiwei and Chen Yang
China Daily
- Zhao Yanrong
Global Times
South China Morning Post
- Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels
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DOCUMENTS