Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your kind invitation. I am delighted and honoured to have this opportunity to deliver the keynote speech before such a distinguished audience. The theme of a rising china is highly topical. The 19th century was the age of European and particularly British imperialism. The 20th century belonged to the United States, thanks to its victories in the Second World War and in the Cold War. The 21st century now sees Asia shifting towards centre stage in the global economy and in international politics. Half a millennium of Western dominance is at an end, and a new power constellation is taking shape.
For the G7, comprising the leading Western industrialised nations, the dawning of the Asian age marks a watershed of far greater significance than the end of the Cold War. The latter resulted in a restructuring process within the sphere of European civilisation. Today, however, the world is confronted with the renaissance of a sphere of culture and civilisation that is fundamentally different to that of the West. The United States and China ? and presumably India too in the future ? are the key players in this new configuration. Some observers believe that the global leadership role is about to change hands, arguing that China has already caught up with the United States and will soon overtake it economically and then, in due course, militarily. (...)