Ezra Vogel discusses the G7 Summit, Japan, China, cyber-security

Mar 12, 2016AI World Society Summit

(March 14th 2016) Here are online remarks and a Q&A with Ezra Vogel, the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard, a world-renown expert on East Asia and a member of The Boston Global Forum (BGF).  He is probably best known for his work on Japan, which will host this year’s G7 Summit, on May 26-27.


Governor Michael Dukakis, Chairman of The BGF introduces the lastest Online Dialogue

His remarks  are another in a series of online discussions with experts  hosted by the BGF as part of its BGF-G7 Summit Initiative leading up to the G7 Summit of  the seven biggest industrialized democracies, on May 26-27. The BGF has been working with summit officials on developing themes and recommendations for the meeting.

Despite the growing importance of East Asia, Professor Vogel noted, Japan is the only non-Western member of the G7. He added that that the G20, while performing a valuable role, is far less able to achieve strong agreements than the far more coherent and unified G7.

He discussed the important historic symbolism of the Japanese venues chosen for the G7 meetings in showing the need for international cooperation to avoid war, the need to be open to new technology and the benefits of a world trade system that encourages each country to develop its comparative advantages. In Japan’s case that means continuing to move even further away from old-line industries and agriculture and toward high technology.

Professor Vogel discussed the challenges posed by the slowdown of the Chinese economy — not to only to China itself but to other nations too.  He reminded us that Japan, after years of very rapid growth, has long had to manage the economic, social and political problems associated with  economic sluggishness. He said that he’s hopeful that China will manage its slowdown without getting into a very serious crisis.

On China’s expansionism in the South China Sea, Ezra Vogel said such a posture, driven by Chinese desire to expand its defense perimeter, was unwise because it leads nations in East Asia to increasingly fear and distrust China and seek help from America to offset Chinese military threats. He urged nations feeling threatened by China’s expansionism, which includes Japan as well as nations in and near Southeast Asia, to find the right balance of “firmness and restraint’’ in response.

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Mr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, CEO and Co. Founder of The BGF discusses with Prof. Ezra Vogel at lastest Online Dialogue as part of The BGF-G7 Initiative

He said that China, and all nations,  ought to be part of many multinational organizations to maintain as  many opportunities  as possible for consultation to protect international peace and security by avoiding dangerous misunderstandings of other nations’ intentions.

Ezra Vogel raised the frightful possibilities of cyber-war, comparing it to the “atomic button.’’ While he noted that new and sold cyber-security agreements would  require far more  work and will than the sort of discussions to held at the G7, he said that it’s good that summit leaders will discuss such an increasingly important issue, on which the BGF has been focusing this year.