China Studies Centre
2012 Distinguished Speaker Lecture Series
The joys and difficulties of being a foreign correspondent in China
There has never been a better time to be a foreign journalist in China. The country is undergoing a radical transformation that is changing the lives of everyone who lives there – and reporters have a ringside seat. What makes this an even better assignment is that there are relatively few foreign journalists reporting from a country that is still little understood by the outside world. But there are difficulties, not least from a sometimes hostile government that thinks foreign reporters are at best misguided, at worst anti-China. I will explain what it is like to be a journalist in China and look back on my five years as a correspondent for the BBC in Beijing.
Michael Bristow has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, starting out as a reporter on a weekly newspaper before moving to an evening publication and then on to the UK’s Press Association. He then switched to broadcasting, initially working for the BBC World Service. For the last five years Michael was a correspondent for the BBC in China, a country he first studied at university. His reports on everything, from politics to the occasional outbreak of plague, have appeared on TV, radio and online. He reported on the Sichuan earthquake, the Beijing Olympics and unrest in Tibet, as well as trying to work out exactly who’s ruling the country. He has just left China and moved back to the UK, where he is attempting to write a book.
When China Rules the World
The rise of China is reshaping the world. The Western financial crisis has accelerated this process. We are already witnessing the beginnings of a Chinese economic order. The consequences, however, will be as much political, cultural, intellectual, moral and military as economic. The international order will, over time, be profoundly restructured. But what will China be like as a global power? The abiding problem in the West has been the desire to understand China through a Western prism. It does not work. Unless we understand China in its own terms we will be unable to make sense of it. And unless we understand China, we will be unable to grasp the nature of the new global order.
Martin Jacques s is the author of the global best-seller When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order It was first published in 2009 and has since been translated into eleven languages. The book has been shortlisted for two major literary awards. A second edition of the book, greatly expanded and fully updated, was published on 29 March 2012. His TED talk on how to understand China has had almost one million views. He is a Senior Visiting Fellow at IDEAS, a centre for diplomacy and grand strategy at the London School of Economics, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is also a Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy, Washington DC. He has previously been a Visiting Professor at Renmin University, the International Centre for Chinese Studies, Aichi University, Nagoya, and Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto. He was a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. He was formerly the editor of the renowned London-based monthly Marxism Today until its closure in 1991 and was co-founder of the think-tank Demos. He has been a columnist for many newspapers, made many television programmes and is a former deputy editor of The Independent newspaper. He took his doctorate while at King’s College, Cambridge.
How to Turn Philosophical Ideas into Diagrams: Chinese approaches and insights
During a period of about 200 years, from the mid-12th to the mid-14th centuries, Confucian scholars produced – in large quantities – diagrams, which aimed to provide the reader with tools for textual analysis. In these diagrams, the arrangement of the sentences from the Classics is a non-linear one, the mapping of the text segments allows for a different kind of intuition, which eventually leads to a new understanding of the meaning of the text. The presentation will shed some light on possible precedents of this new form of diagrams, and also give an introduction into the multi-faceted functioning of diagrams on the basis of selected material.
Professor Michael Lackner is Chair of Chinese Studies, Department of Middle Eastern and Far Eastern Languages and Cultures, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. He has studied Sinology, Ethnology, Political Science and Philosophy in Heidelberg, Munich, and Paris. His fields of study encompass Song dynasty philosophical thought and learned practices, the Jesuit mission in China, the history of divination, and the formation of modern Chinese scientific terminology and disciplines.
China, Climate Change and Sustainability: spins, facts and realpolitik
Dr Wen’s presentation will start with an overview of China's existing actions on climate change, and place current commitments in relation to other countries. She will argue that contrary to popular misconception in the West, China has already engaged and implemented quite substantial efforts to address climate change. China’s investments in clean energy are e.g. Almost double that of the United States’, and around three times in terms of percentage of GDP. Yet, these efforts are still not enough to counter climate change or to ensure sustainable development. Dr Wen will highlight some of the challenges for China, how the current growth centred development model must be changed, and some of the implications of this.
Dr. Wen will furthermore analyse the political situation regarding China's position in the climate negotiations. How did the China blame game after the Copenhagen climate summit fuel climate skepticism within the country and prove counterproductive? What are the different and often competing schools of thought among China’s ruling elite and academics regarding the future climate regime?
Finally she will share ideas why it is important for the west and China to collaborate on sustainability issues and possible ways forward to rebuild trust.
Dr Dale Jiajun Wen is a scholar, activist and writer who has focused on sustainable development issues for more than a decade. Her current research focus includes sustainable agriculture, climate change, energy security, and other globalization related issues. She has worked closely with organisations such as Third World Network, South Center and the International Forum on Globalization, and is currently based in Germany. In 2005, she published a short book China Copes with Globalization: A mixed review, which examined the environmental and social impacts of China's breakneck industrialisation and surveyed alternative voices in the Chinese scene, including the environmental movement and the rural reconstruction movement.
The Recent Development of China’s Civil Society
Professor Yu Keping, Director of the Center for Chinese Government Innovations at Beijing University
After the 30-plus years’ of reform and opening up, Chinese society has been gaining more independent space and growth momentum which have rarely been seen in Chinese history. In this presentation, Professor Yu argues, a relatively independent civil society is emerging in China thanks to the introduction of market economy and progress of democratic governance in China. Professor Yu details the categorisation, characteristics, progress and limitations as well as implications of civil society in China. In his view, the growth of China’s civil society is irreversible from the long run since a market economy and democratic system will call for a civil society in place. China’s aspiration for market economy and pledge to democracy make the development of civil society a necessity for China although it could possibly face some setbacks from time to time.
After Professor Yu's presentation he will be in conversation with Professor John Keane, Director of the Sydney Democracy Initiative and Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney.
Professor Yu Keping is Professor and Director of the China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics (CCCPE), and also Professor and Director, Center for Chinese Government Innovations, Peking University and Institute of Political Development, Tsinghua University. He currently serves as Deputy Director of Bureau of Translation of the CCP Central Committee. His major fields of expertise include political philosophy, comparative politics, globalization, civil society, governance and politics in China. His English work includes Democracy is a good thing (2009) and Globalization and Changes in China’s Governance (2008).
Chinese Exceptionalism in the International Relations
Feng Zhang, Politics and International Studies, Murdoch University
Although exceptionalism is an important dimension of China’s foreign policy, Dr Feng Zhang from Murdoch University argues, it has not been a subject of serious scholarly research. In this lecture, Dr Zhang attempts to examine the manifestations and sources of contemporary Chinese exceptionalism and explain its implications for foreign policy.
Chinese exceptionalism is defined by great power reformism, benevolent pacifism, and harmonious inclusionism. While resting on an important factual basis, it is constructed by mixing facts with myths through selective use of China’s vast historical and cultural experiences. Exceptionalism does not determine policy, but by being an essential part of the worldview of the Chinese government and many intellectuals, it can become an important source for policy ideas. It can be further seen as a normative theory for China’s foreign policy, as one among six major schools competing for ideational influence in China’s foreign policy formation.
Feng Zhang is a Lecturer in the Politics and International Studies program of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at Murdoch University. Feng works on China’s foreign relations and the international politics of East Asia, focusing on three related questions: historical East Asian politics and China’s central role in it, contemporary Chinese foreign policy especially with regard to policy ideas and grand strategy, and international relations theory from a Chinese perspective.
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