On May 26th, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken introduced the Biden administration’s long-awaited strategy to compete with China’s rise as a global power. He suggested that China poses the most serious long-term challenge to the international order. He argued that the Chinese Communist Party is becoming more repressive at home, and more aggressive abroad. Are the criticisms by the US justified?

Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoo

Guests: Martin Jacques – Author, When China Rules the World; Michael D Swaine – Director, East Asia Programme, Quincy Institute; Henry Huiyao Wang – Founder, Center for China and Globalization

If the central priority in Hong Kong in 2020 was to restore order and stability, the main task now confronting the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government is winning the support of the Hong Kong people. This is not an easy task. Ever since the handover, there has been grudging, but never enthusiastic, support for the government. I was present at the handover of both Hong Kong in 1997 and Macau in 1999 and the contrast was telling. While there was little evidence of popular support on the streets in Hong Kong, in Macau many thousands turned out to greet the arrival of the PLA. By 2014 there was growing dissatisfaction about the state of affairs in Hong Kong that culminated in the riots in 2019 and was exacerbated by Western interference. That year was to mark the end of One Country Two Systems Mark 1. It was no longer sustainable.

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Let us travel back to 1991. The implosion of the Soviet Union. The end of the Cold War. The triumph of the United States. The implosion was greeted by the West as offering boundless opportunities. Anything was now possible. The world could be remade in the West’s own image. The constraints of the previous four decades disappeared. There was much talk of a New World Order. This was the unipolar moment: America had no rivals, it bestrode the world stage, it was no longer subject to the forces of gravity. Actually, if truth be told, it was a dangerous moment for America. Hubris went to its head, world domination beckoned. We can date the beginning of America’s rapid decline, now so rampant and obvious, from this moment. Read more >

President Biden’s Dialogue on Democracy seeks to set the agenda and put China on the defensive. The problem is that Western democracy is in serious trouble, as the Insurrection at Capitol Hill in January demonstrated. Western democracy faces two deep problems. First, it is in trouble at home and losing support. Second, China has been out-performing the West in governance terms for several decades.

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The Thinkers Forum is held once a year under the auspices of the China Institute at Fudan University in Shanghai. It is always fascinating, always seeking to address new questions. This talk explores why the American order cannot survive, why we are transitioning to a post-Western world, and why it is not only premature to talk of Pax Sinica but wrong because it will be so different from Pax Americana and Pax Britannica. Finally, it explores why China needs to rethink the way it presents itself and deals with the West. Too often its messaging falls on deaf ears.

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Martin Jacques and Zhang Weiwei discuss why the great majority of Western commentary on China is misleading, ill-informed, simplistic and hopelessly biased. No real effort is made to understand China except in the most superficial terms. Western forecasts about China have proved hugely wide of the mark, be it concerning the economy or the stability and longevity of the Chinese government. Even when it is crystal-clear that China has performed brilliantly – most notably on the pandemic – the Western media has made little or no attempt to report the fact, preferring to smear and demonise. In the long run the West would be better served by honesty, sobriety and the truth. Because China’s rise is here to stay.

How to understand the growing tensions between China and the US? How to characterise this new era which started in 2016 with the election of Trump? Is it really a New Cold War, as it is frequently described? How long will it last? How will it end? No, it is not a repeat of the Cold War 1.0; it is different. It will last a long time. It is already nearly five years old. The Cold War lasted 42 years. The cooperative era in US-China relations lasted 44 years. So it would be surprising if this new acrimonious era did not last at least two decades, perhaps much longer. How will it end: very differently to the way the Cold War ended.

In 2001, the United States believed that it could do anything, that it walked on water. It completely misread the world and its own power. It believed the world was unipolar when it was multi-polar. It thought that it had no rivals when already China was rising rapidly. In response to 9/11, it embarked on two catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which resulted in a huge loss of life and humiliating American defeats. Together with the home-grown Western financial crisis in 2008, they hastened America’s decline. Read more >