What is China thinking?
Sunday 2 November, 4.00pm until 5.30pm, Henry Moore Gallery

The Beijing Olympics ‘coming out’ party gave a sharp focus to Western concerns about the awakening of the ‘sleeping dragon’; certainly the rise of China is the subject of much debate in the West. With so much of the discussion filtered through the prism of Western preoccupations, however - from fear and loathing, to awe and envy - can we make a balanced assessment of what China really wants, and just what it’s thinking?

What does the dramatic rise of China as a world player mean to China itself?  Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation represent undreamt of prosperity for millions of Chinese people, yes, but is it a dream billions can hope to share? Want to share? How is it that the Chinese today conceive of their project and imagine their future? How do they plan to relate to the rest of the world? Is it all harmonious global growth from here on in? Does that include Taiwan? The autonomous regions? Is their dream that industrial modernity leads naturally to growing freedoms, democracy and public participation? As Western commentators debate whether or not liberal democracy is the best thing or not for China, we should start by asking, would the Chinese even vote for it?

Can we expect Enlightenment scientific rationalism to be an inspiring model, or is Confucius back with a vengenance? Will Chinese social networking sites break new ground that we have not even begun to tread, or just follow in well-worn Western footprints? Is China building the 21st century, or conforming to a Western blueprint?

Watch the session video...

Professor Alan Hudson
director of leadership and public policy programmes, University of Oxford; visiting professor, Shanghai Jiaotong University
Duncan Hewitt
former BBC China correspondent; author, Getting Rich First: Life in a changing China.
Dr Bingqin Li
lecturer in Social Policy, London School of Economics
Adrian Hornsby
chief editor, Dynamic City Foundation; principal author of The Chinese Dream
Sheila Lewis
director, Volanti Consulting

 Produced by
Sheila Lewis director, Volanti Consulting

 Battles in Print
Attitudes to China, Patrick Hayes

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Duncan Hewitt, Vintage, 1 May 2008

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