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Florence School of Transnational Governance

George Yeo's keynote: forging peace between China, EU, and US through diplomacy

On Tuesday 23 May, the School of Transnational Governance officially inaugurated a fully renovated courtroom at Palazzo Buontalenti with a lecture by George Yeo in the presence of the members of the STG External Advisory Board.

01 June 2023 | Event

George Yeo lecture

Renowned diplomat and former Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Yeo, captivated the audience at the School of Transnational Governance with a thought-provoking keynote speech on China-EU-US relations. The event, titled "China in Europe’s Future and Europe in China’s Future," shed light on the evolving dynamics between these global powers.

Yeo's speech touched on various topics including rising anti-China sentiments in Europe, China's inclination to build walls to preserve its culture, and the erosion of US dominance, signalling a potential global power shift with far-reaching implications.

Yeo's address emphasised the inevitability of a multipolar world and the need for the United States to embrace this transformation. He specifically highlighted the importance of the United States to assume a role of “first among equals”, in the ever-changing global order.

Acknowledging the tensions between the US and the China/Russia axis, Yeo maintained that Europe has great influence on the matter, suggesting that the bloc's position could tip the balance in favour of either side and ultimately impact global peace efforts.

“China may well play an important role in helping to create conditions for an end to the Ukraine War,” Yeo argued. “The time is not yet ripe. Only when the protagonists are exhausted will minds turn towards a ceasefire. At that point, China’s current intermediate position between Europe and Russia may become helpful. China can only be effective with European support. The US, however, will not like to see China playing such a role.”

Europe's pivotal role in shaping this transformation was a focal point of Yeo's speech. Yeo also encouraged Europe to take a stance on China based on its own principles, highlighting the importance of standing firm on human rights and other critical issues.

The event concluded with an engaging discussion, where participants explored the implications of Yeo's speech on global geopolitics, far beyond the China-EU-US relations.

Mr. Yeo's lecture served as an occasion to inaugurate the recently renovated "courtroom" at Palazzo Buontalenti as part of an ongoing full restoration of the building. Palazzo Buontalenti, originally a property of the Medici family, served as the Court of Appeal of the city of Florence in more recent times and is now the headquarters of the EUI School of Transnational Governance.

In recent years, the courtroom had gained national notoriety for being the scene of high-profile trials. On 23 May, it was opened to the public for the first time and presented in its new role as a seminar room.

On the same day, the EUI School of Transnational Governance convened the seventh meeting of its External Advisory Board (EAB), which includes George Yeo among its distinguished members. The EAB consists of internationally renowned individuals with a wealth of experience in research, institutional management, and leadership roles in prominent public and private organisations across Europe and worldwide.

Read the full transcript of Yeo’s keynote here and watch his interview with our master’s student, Clara Bullock. Full recording of the event can be found here.

Last update: 01 June 2023

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