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“Hollywood stereotypes block economic development” warns Curtis S. Chin

Curtis ChinCurtis S. Chin, former US ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, has posted his latest musing on Asia, with a Hollywood twist.

In an article for CNN, Curtis uses the 1960s film, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” to explain that although it is initially easy to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys, the lines begin to blur as the Western plays out, reminding us of our tendencies to form stereotypes.

Curtis links this with the common stereotype of corporations being evil and greedy. In turn, he argues that this is prohibiting the partnership between governments and the private sector – a relationship that if respected can help fight poverty in countries like India, Nepal and China.

Curtis argues that for this relationship to blossom, “[we] must move beyond stereotypes, as well as politics and the business as usual mindset. Doing so is essential to extend Asia’s economic growth to this mountain region’s most important stakeholders – namely, the people who have long called the Hindu Kush-Himalaya their home.”

Read the full article here.

For more information, or to book Curtis S. Chin as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

Curtis S. Chin on the American pivot to Asia

Curtis S. Chin‘s latest blog in which he argues that “the American pivot to Asia must encompass a business, educational and cultural pivot as well” is a great read.

Curtis opens by discussing the meeting of “two leaders whose political careers stemmed from tragedy” in Seoul earlier this year – the then President elect Park Guen-hye and Burmese opposition leader and Nobel peace prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

According to Burma’s constitution, which bans those married to a foreigner or with children who are foreign citizens to become President, Suu Kyi (with her British husband) cannot take on the role. In contrast, Park is now Korea’s first female President and subsequent approval polls had revealed that 65% believe she is doing a “relatively good job.”

Curtis compares Asia to the US where the majority of polls showed that approval of Obama dropped since his “post-election and pre-inauguration honeymoon period late last year” with a 6% point decline in approval since January.

Political leaders worldwide are keen to prove their interest in the political charge and reforms which are part of the “pivot on Burma” by being seen with Suu Kyi. Curtis predicts that Obama will also be eager to make a return visit to Burma and he warns that it would be a mistake to drop attention on the already successful pivot towards the country.

It is interesting to hear Curtis’ own experiences of Burma, a country he has only been able to visit since he is no longer U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, a role which made it tricky before as a result of “U.S. sanctions and hundreds of millions of dollars in unrepaid loans from the ADB and World Bank to Burma.” He notes the signs of this US pivot: “Coca-Cola billboards, American teachers and volunteers, and numerous U.S. and European business leaders and delegations, hungry for the opportunity that beckons in the nation of some 60 million people.”

Curtis argues that this pivot to Asia must now be more than just defence and diplomacy and should address business, education and culture too. He talks about the future – for the US who need to work on substantive policy effort and investment which support involvement and ties in these other sectors, and for Burma who need to address religious and ethical unrest and the issues with human rights.

He concludes saying, “South Korea has benefited from a freer, more democratic society since the days of Park’s father. And so too can Burma.”

Click here to read the blog in full

For more information, or to book Curtis S. Chin as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

Curtis S. Chin puts difficult questions to Pakistan

Former US Ambassador to, and Board Member of, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Curtis S. Chin has written an interesting piece on Pakistan which follows up from his last visit to the country two years ago.

On his previous trip Curtis investigated development projects in Pakistan and he now reassesses the successes and failures of these, bearing in mind their extremely high costs to the country and its donor nations and partners. These questions are particularly pertinent now the Pakistani election year posturing is over.

Curtis looks at the most recent data, revealing that although the lives of the people are often improved, the overall success rate of these projects is not high. He highlights the example of the ADB who have spent $17 billion in loans to Pakistan since 1966, yet only 32% of their work in the 2000s was deemed “successful”. He states: “Clearly, it will be up to the people of Pakistan to shape their own future.”

There are four questions which Curtis now raises as important for the nation’s development partners ad leaders to consider:

  1. Is Pakistan’s government bureaucracy hindering or fostering economic growth?
  2. How are regulations impacting job creation?
  3. When is government intervention appropriate?
  4. What more can be done to root out corruption?

Curtis concludes his article noting that at the heart of these questions is his view that the “new ‘bric’ walls being built of bureaucracy, regulation, interventionism and corruption” should be broken down. Division and discord must be replaced by a focus on “innovation, infrastructure improvements and a policy environment that will foster the job growth necessary to drive the economy forward.”

Click here to read the article in full.

For more information, or to book Curtis S. Chin as a keynote speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

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