The hit movie Crazy Rich Asians shone a light on the extreme wealth of Southeast Asia's ethnically Chinese ultra-wealthy, who have long topped billionaire rankings and dominated stock-markets around the region. Sometimes dubbed “the Asian godfathers,” these successful tycoons are famed both their sharp commercial savvy and their association with chronic crony capitalism. In this talk, however, author James Crabtree will suggest that role of the region's mega-wealthy industrialists is now changing in interesting ways, notably due to the economic rise of China itself, which presents major business opportunities but also tricky political challenges for Southeast Asia's commercial titans.
James Crabtree is a Singapore-based author and journalist, a columnist for Nikkei Asian Review, and a fellow in the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House in London. His best-selling 2018 book, The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age, was short-listed for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year award. Prior to his position at NUS, James worked for the FT, most recently as its bureau chief in Mumbai, India. Publications for which he has written include The New York Times, The Economist, Wired, and Foreign Policy. Before becoming a journalist, he was an advisor in the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, worked for think tanks in London and Washington DC, and was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.