13D Asia Conference – Destined for war

Can America and China escape Thucydides’s trap?

13D Asia Society Conference

Watch the live event on the most important geopolitical theme of the decade and explore all the related content.

Apr 25, 2018

This oversubscribed 13D conference was chaired by Ronnie C. Chan, Chairman Emeritus of the Asia Society with Kiril Sokoloff Chairman and Founder of 13D Global Strategy & Research and Dr Graham Allison the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School. Allison was the founding dean of the Kennedy School and former director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Relations there. For the last four years under Graham’s direction, the Belfer Center was voted the best university-affiliated think tank in the world.

Thucydides’s Trap describes how a rising power can threaten the supremacy of an existing power. It is this very Trap that caused war between Athens and Sparta, resulting in the end of Greek civilization. As Henry Kissinger writes on the Trap: “I can only hope that the US China relationship becomes the fifth case to resolve itself peacefully, rather than the thirteenth to result in war.”

“The size of China’s displacement of the world balance is such that the world must find a new balance. It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big player. This is the biggest player in the history of the world.”
Lee Kuan Yew

In 1980, China’s economy was only a tenth the size of the U.S. economy. By 2040, Allison reckons it could be three times larger. Being overtaken by a rival who shares common values—such as Britain grudgingly watching an upstart America surpass its power but largely preserve its cultural, religious, and political beliefs—is one thing. It would be quite another to be surpassed by an adversary whose values are so strikingly different.

Stressing that war is not inevitable, Allison also revealed how rising and ruling powers have kept the peace in the past—and what painful steps the U.S. and China can and must take to avoid disaster.

 

Ronnie C. Chan

Chairman Emeritus of the Asia Society

Mr. Ronnie C. Chan is Chairman of Hang Lung Group Limited and its subsidiary Hang Lung Properties Limited, both publicly listed in Hong Kong, with the latter being a constituent stock of the Hang Seng Index. Founded in Hong Kong in 1960, the Group expanded into mainland China in 1992, developing, owning and managing world-class commercial complexes in key cities like Shanghai, Tianjin, Wuhan, Shenyang, Dalian, Jinan, Wuxi, and Kunming.

Kiril Sokoloff

Chairman and Founder of 13D Global Strategy & Research

A life-long learner, Kiril is devoted to the pursuit of truth—in investments, in health, life and the living of it, wisdom of the ages, lessons of history as applied to the present, eternal truths and the way forward for humanity and the planet.

Dr Graham Allison

Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

Allison is a leading analyst of U.S. national security and defense policy with a special interest in nuclear weapons, terrorism, and decision-making. As Assistant Secretary of Defense in the first Clinton Administration, Dr. Allison received the Defense Department's highest civilian award, the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

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Ronnie C. Chan

Chairman Emeritus of the Asia Society

Mr. Ronnie C. Chan is Chairman of Hang Lung Group Limited and its subsidiary Hang Lung Properties Limited, both publicly listed in Hong Kong, with the latter being a constituent stock of the Hang Seng Index. Founded in Hong Kong in 1960, the Group expanded into mainland China in 1992, developing, owning and managing world-class commercial complexes in key cities like Shanghai, Tianjin, Wuhan, Shenyang, Dalian, Jinan, Wuxi, and Kunming.

Mr. Chan is Co-founder of Morningside, an international investment group established in 1986 with venture capital and private equity investments in manufacturing, TMT, biotechnology, and clean technology. Morningside is strongly committed to social responsibility through the Morningside Foundation.

In Hong Kong and mainland China, Mr. Chan is Chairman of the Executive Committee of The Better Hong Kong Foundation, Convener of Hong Kong Development Forum, a Vice President of The Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong, and a Governing Board member of the China-United States Exchange Foundation. He founded and chairs the China Heritage Fund which restores cultural relics in China, and is a co-founding Director of The Forbidden City Cultural Heritage Conservation Foundation in Beijing. He is founding Chairman of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society, and founding Chairman Emeritus of Asia Business Council. He is a former government appointed Non-Executive Director of Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong, former Chairman of the Hong Kong-United States Business Council, former Chairman of the Executive Committee of One Country Two Systems Research Institute, and former Vice President and former Advisor of the China Development Research Foundation in Beijing.

Internationally, Mr. Chan is Chairman Emeritus of Asia Society and Chairman of its Hong Kong Center, a founding Trustee of African-Asian Society and a Director of the Board of Peterson Institute for International Economics. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Committee on United States-China Relations, and Committee of 100. Mr. Chan is a former director of Standard Chartered PLC, Motorola, and Enron. He is a former member of the governing boards of World Economic Forum, East-West Center, Pacific Council on International Policy, Eisenhower Fellowships, and The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. He is also a former member of the advisory board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta.

Mr. Chan is active in education. He is an Honorary Court Member of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, a Trustee of the University of Southern California, and a Governing Board member of the Indian School of Business. He serves on the President’s Council on International Activities at Yale University. He is also an Advisor on Strategic Development to Tsinghua University, a Co-Chairman of Hang Lung Center for Real Estate at Tsinghua University, and a founding member of the International Advisory Board of the School of Management at Fudan University. Mr. Chan previously served as a Trustee of China Foreign Affairs University, a Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Center for Real Estate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a member of the Advisory Council of Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, the International Advisory Committee of The Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College, and the International Advisory Committee of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at Waseda University. He was a Brittingham Visiting Scholar at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Notable philanthropic programs and projects initiated or supported by Mr. Chan include: Morningside Music Bridge; International Congress of Chinese Mathematicians (ICCM) where the Morningside Medal of Mathematics are awarded; Morningside Center of Mathematics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the Morningside College at The Chinese University of Hong Kong; endowed professorships at Harvard University, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and The University of Hong Kong; and various scholarships and programs in Hong Kong and mainland China which has supported over 10,000 students. In 2014, the Morningside Foundation pledged US$350 million to endow the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, named after Mr. Chan’s late father. In the same year, Mr. Chan and his wife pledged US$20 million to endow the Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California.

Mr. Chan is a frequent speaker at named lectureships and international conferences, and has published numerous articles in Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Newsweek, Fortune, Asian Wall Street Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, and Japan Times. Mr. Chan holds an MBA from the University of Southern California, and was conferred honorary doctorate degrees by The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Tel Aviv University. Mr. Chan has received many awards for his contributions to society, which includes: Builder of Bridges Award (Asia Society) for strengthening ties between Asians and Americans; The 2nd “Passing the Torch – Outstanding Figures of Chinese Cultural Heritage Protection” Award (China Foundation For Cultural Heritage Conservation); Asa V. Call Alumni Achievement Award (University of Southern California); Alumnus of the Year Award (California State University, Los Angeles); US-Asia International Public Service and Philanthropy Award (US-Asia Institute); Philanthropy Excellence Award (Committee of 100); Chern Prize (ICCM) for exceptional public service in support of mathematics; Grand Bauhinia Medal (HKSAR Government) in recognition of his long and distinguished community service; and Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership (Hong Kong Association of New York). Mr. Chan is 68 years of age and resides in Hong Kong with his wife.

Kiril Sokoloff

Chairman and Founder of 13D Global Strategy & Research

Kiril Sokoloff is the Chairman and founder of 13D Global Strategy & Research. Barton Biggs once observed: “Kiril Sokoloff is a breath of pure, fresh investment oxygen. He is invaluable because he is an original thinker and is not afraid to take extreme views.”

A life-long learner, Kiril is devoted to the pursuit of truth—in investments, in health, life and the living of it, wisdom of the ages, lessons of history as applied to the present, eternal truths and the way forward for humanity and the planet. He considers peace of mind and humility among his most important personal goals.

Kiril has studied history and the lessons of history for most of his life. Kiril also believes that trust is a vital component of relationships and the best way to establish it is a passionate, totally-committed desire to serve the needs of others. This can only come from the heart.

Kiril began to lose his hearing as a teenager, ultimately going entirely deaf by the early 1990s, but he resolved to never avoid a business or social event due to deafness. He committed to turning this weakness into strength, and developed a highly-attuned intuition. In 1996, Kiril received a cochlear implant, which restored much of his ability to hear conversation. These experiences reinforced Kiril’s dedication, resilience, and commitment to looking beyond the surface for deeper understanding of herd mentality, hidden assumptions, and how things could change.

13D's major client base includes large-scale money managers, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, large private and public corporations, family offices, private equity and distressed funds, high-net-worth individuals, hedge funds and business leaders all over the world. Kiril has been an advisor to many of the largest pools of global capital for over 30 years.

Kiril co-founded the first pure Asian hedge fund in early 1992 just as the huge bull market in Hong Kong stocks got underway and retired before the Asian financial crisis. In 1994, he co-founded one of the earliest pure technology funds, just before the Internet stock boom began, then retired a few years before the IT bust.

Starting in 2001, Kiril and his team began to write What I Learned This Week, later adding What Are The Markets Telling Us?. These publications are the agnostic interpreters of what the markets are telling us. They are dedicated to detecting change and disruption before others. Kiril and his team are cutting-edge contrarians, original thinkers and always on the lookout for the “next big thing”. What I Learned This Week has gained a worldwide audience. Kiril is also the author of five investment books.

In 1977, he was one of the first to join Jack Kemp’s “supply-side” revolution, which advocated cutting tax rates to restore economic growth. This became a core principle of Reaganomics, which launched the subsequent 30-year bull market in financial assets. Kiril also co-authored Is Inflation Ending? Are you Ready? (McGraw-Hill, 1982), which correctly predicted disinflation and the long boom in financial assets.

In 1983, Kiril founded 13D, which began analyzing stocks selling well below break-up value and evolved into a theme-driven investment research firm. Throughout the 1980s, Kiril wrote and lectured widely to investment groups, arguing for a long secular period of disinflation. His mantra: “The highest interest rates in capitalism will eventually be followed by the lowest interest rates.” Beginning in May 1984, Kiril recommended purchasing 30-year U.S. Treasuries, which at the time were yielding 14% and which Kiril called “The investment opportunity of a lifetime”. In 2002, with oil at $20 after a 20-year bear market in commodities, Kiril launched his “commodity boom” theme.

Kiril spends much of the year travelling in key global markets, and typically devotes 12-14 hours a day to reading, thinking, learning, researching and meditating.

Dr Graham Allison

Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

Graham Allison was Director of Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs from 1995 until July 2017. Allison is a leading analyst of U.S. national security and defense policy with a special interest in nuclear weapons, terrorism, and decision-making. As Assistant Secretary of Defense in the first Clinton Administration, Dr. Allison received the Defense Department's highest civilian award, the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, for "reshaping relations with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to reduce the former Soviet nuclear arsenal." This resulted in the safe return of more than 12,000 tactical nuclear weapons from the former Soviet republics and the complete elimination of more than 4,000 strategic nuclear warheads previously targeted at the United States and left in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus when the Soviet Union disappeared.

His latest book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in May 2017 and quickly became a national bestseller. His 2013 book, Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States and the World (co-authored with Robert Blackwill), has been a bestseller in the U.S. and abroad. Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, now in its third printing, was selected by the New York Times as one of the "100 most notable books of 2004." It presents a strategy for preventing nuclear terrorism organized under a doctrine of "Three Nos:" no loose nukes; no new nascent nukes; and no new nuclear weapons states. Dr. Allison's first book, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (1971), was released in an updated and revised second edition (1999) and ranks among the all-time bestsellers with more than 450,000 copies in print.

As "Founding Dean" of the modern Kennedy School, under his leadership, from 1977 to 1989, a small, undefined program grew twenty-fold to become a major professional school of public policy and government.

Dr. Allison has served as Special Advisor to the Secretary of Defense under President Reagan. He has the sole distinction of having twice been awarded the Department of Defense's highest civilian award, the Distinguished Public Service Medal, first by Secretary Cap Weinberger and second by Secretary Bill Perry. He served as a member of the Defense Policy Board for Secretaries Weinberger, Carlucci, Cheney, Aspin, Perry, Cohen, and Carter. He currently serves on the Advisory boards of the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the CIA.

Dr. Allison was the organizer of the Commission on America's National Interests (1996 and 2000), a founding member of the Trilateral Commission, a Director of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has been a member of public committees and commissions, among them the Baker-Cutler DOE Task Force on Nonproliferation Programs with Russia, the IAEA’s Commission of Eminent Persons, and the Commission on Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation, and Terrorism.

Dr. Allison has served as a Director of the Getty Oil Company, Natixis, Loomis Sayles, Hansberger, Taubman Centers, Inc., Joule Unlimited, and Belco Oil and Gas, as well as a member of the Advisory Boards of Chase Bank, Chemical Bank, Hydro-Quebec, and the International Energy Corporation.

Dr. Allison was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was educated at Davidson College; Harvard College (B.A., magna cum laude, in History); Oxford University (B.A. and M.A., First Class Honors in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics); and Harvard University (Ph.D. in Political Science).

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