Experts and ambassadors share their insights on China’s diplomacy, economy and culture

By He Keyao Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/12 20:58:39

Diplomats, experts and scholars during the Global Times Diplomats' Forum 2018 in Beijing recently Photo: Li Hao/GT


Experts and diplomats share their opinion on China's economy during the Global Times Diplomats' Forum 2018 recently. Photo: Li Hao/GT



More than 150 guests, including diplomats, government officials, scholars and entrepreneurs attended the Global Times Diplomats' Forum 2018 in Beijing on January 31. The theme of the forum was restarting after 40 years of reform and opening up, named after a policy that has been a source of vitality and a driving force for China's development since it was adopted in 1978.

The forum invited 19 speakers to discuss the influence of China's reform and opening up policy on the country's national development and global presence from the perspective of diplomacy, economy and culture. Below are excerpts from the ensuing three panel discussions.

Diplomacy



 

Mohamed Faisal, Maldives Ambassador to China Photo: Li Hao/GT


 

Mohamed Faisal, Maldives Ambassador to China:

There are many things that worry us, especially as a small economy that has very little resources and as an economy and country that depends on the rest of the world for our bread and butter. Whatever happens outside our borders affects us, especially given the system of economy that we have which is very much dependent on tourism. Any upset, any financial crisis, and any disease, and wars can generate very negative effects on our borders. So of course, we would like the world to be peaceful, for everybody to cooperate and also for the world to be more open because for a small country a closed economy could be very dangerous. We import everything from all over the world, and we also rely on our partners in all parts of the world to provide us with not only necessary goods and services to sustain our economy and people but also for their goodwill. So, of course, we would like to see a more open economy and more open relationships between countries that are based on an equal footing.

 

 

 

Nebojsa Koharovic, Croatian Ambassador to China Photo: Li Hao/GT


 
Nebojsa Koharovic, Croatian Ambassador to China:

I think every citizen in my country understands how important international order is. What could challenge international order? The main issue here is do we clearly see the challenges to international order. I come from the country that has been shifting the tides in the last 30 years coming from one camp to another, not just in the sense of statehood but also in the sense of the values that we are representing today, and of course, we think that being able to watch both sides or many sides, as you call it multi-vector politics, [is important]. But there is more than one challenge to the international order at this moment. The coined phrase "major power politics" is something that presents a challenge for almost everybody else. So, the challenges are not the ones that have the red buttons in Pyongyang. They could be far more, and in that sense, I think we have to be very cautious when we modelize the needs and goals of our countries or regions not to endanger the international order that has been very carefully formalized by nearly 60 years after the Second World War.

 

Zhou Bo, Senior colonel and director of Security Cooperation of Office of International Military Cooperation, Ministry of National Defense Photo: Li Hao/GT


 
Zhou Bo, Senior colonel and director of Security Cooperation of Office of International Military Cooperation, Ministry of National Defense:

It is not a question of how much China has changed because China has, ever since its opening up and reform, insisted that cooperation, peace and development be the mainstay of the day. But recently we have read something different. Frankly speaking, the US' recent reports on national security and defense strategy really surprised me in that China is considered a top strategic competitor. Doesn't the tone sound a bit like a return to the Cold War era? Is the US ready to challenge China as it did the Soviet Union? It is not that China would challenge the international order. Our position on it is still more or less the same, but it is how the US might take a big risk to challenge China. That would definitely bring a major shift in the international order.

 

Liu Chang, PhD, China Institute of International Studies Photo: Li Hao/GT


 

Liu Chang, PhD, China Institute of International Studies:

Let's look back to 40 years ago. I think one of the most important reasons that China's reform and opening up can be so successful is that Bejing and Washington realized the normalization of diplomatic relationships since the 1970s. So we share a reasonably peaceful international environment so that we can focus on our economic construction. But the normalization of diplomatic relationships between China and the US and China and the Western world is not a gift from the latter, but a result of interaction between China and the Western world. Speaking of the change of international order, we have focused on the big powers and countries, but I think we should focus more on developing and Middle Eastern countries.

 

 

Ding Yifan, Researcher of the Development Research Center of the State Council Photo: Li Hao/GT


 



Ding Yifan, Researcher of the Development Research Center of the State Council:

When China first launched its initiative of Belt and Road, it received criticism and suspicion around the world. So, people thought that China might have hidden something behind the border initiative. But China's philosophy is very simple. China is living in a globalized world. If the global economy or global atmosphere is threatened by a lot of things, like climate change, lack of investment and so on the situation could worsen. The only solution of these global issues is to lend a hand to those countries in difficulty. China would be better off only if its neighboring countries are better, and that's why China's proposed Belt and Road initiative was initially mainly focused on its neighboring countries, the traditional countries located on the ancient Silk Road. It started like this and then for the past three or five years, the project has made remarkable progress in all these countries. If you look at global economic growth, you will find that those countries along the Silk Road are growing faster. It is mainly because of Chinese initiative.

 

Geir O. Pedersen, Norwegian Ambassador to China Photo: Li Hao/GT


 



Geir O. Pedersen, Norwegian Ambassador to China:

It is obvious that we see the relative decline of the US, and that's sure in its economy. When China opened up in 1978, it was perhaps one to three percent of the world economy, and today it's closer to 17 percent while the US part of the economy has declined. Obviously, there is no competition when it comes to the military field. The third aspect is soft power. My opinion, my Chinese friends may disagree, is that in this arena there is really no competition, but with one important aspect missing and that is the leadership of Mr Trump in the US. In my personal opinion, I think that has tremendously influenced how we see the US. The State of the Union shows a very divided US, a US that is struggling to come to terms both domestically and internationally. Meanwhile, we see China that is increasingly confident in its domestic development, in its relationship to its neighbors and its role within international institutions. But then the big question is we hear the right things from China but will China, as a rising power, stick to its principles as they said, or will it behave like the US has throughout history - say many of the right things but act differently?

 


José Augusto Duarte, Portuguese Ambassador to China Photo: Li Hao/GT


 


José Augusto Duarte, Portuguese Ambassador to China:

China is not the not the only country to achieve tremendous revolution through reform and opening up; my country has gone through revolutions as well in recent history. Materially and socially, we have much more than we had 40 years ago. So, I think all the fields and all generations have their own challenges. But that's the beauty of a generation is to have a challenge and the opportunity also to build and break the pyramid of a civilization or the international order. So, I think the changes that we are facing in the international community are a part of life. History and geopolitics never were completely stable for that many long years.



Economy

 

José Luis Bernal Rodríguez, Mexican Ambassador to China Photo: Li Hao/GT


 

José Luis Bernal Rodríguez, Mexican Ambassador to China:

It is important that we can all exchange experiences to benefit the expansion of markets, poverty eradication and put into practice new formulas for international cooperation, and this is something that Mexico and China have been doing for the last 20 years. But it has been more profound in the last five years where we launched our corporative strategic partnership. We are dealing with political dialogue at the highest level and at every different level of government, and more importantly, we are trying to have a more mature economic relationship looking at trade, investment, technological innovation and sharing key interests in terms of development process. And so far we have been able to achieve a good dialogue as both China and Mexico have emerging economies, and with China being the second largest emerging economy in the world today, we have a lot to learn, to do, to share and to continue cooperating on for the sake of global communication, cooperation and global prosperity.

 

Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to China Photo: Li Hao/GT


 



Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to China:

The achievement of the last 40 years is truly impressive, not only because of the long period of sustained economic growth but also because of China's size. I think that, as was pointed out, one of the most important things was opening up to foreign capital, getting in expertise, getting in capital and developing the markets. But at the same time, I always was impressed at an early stage of the reform and opening up process to what extent China already began to reach out like was said there was close contact with Europe already at the time. In 1978, we had already concluded our first trade agreement. I think the way China also managed to build on expertise to get its people out to acquire knowledge and to get them come back all that, I think, together contributed to a huge success story.

 

Liu Guoen, professor of National School of Development, Peking University Photo: Li Hao/GT


 



Liu Guoen, professor of National School of Development, Peking University:

The global financial crisis which was considered to be an external shock to the Chinese economy made people realize that China's economy cannot be independent from the world economy. By understanding this, we can do a better job. Second, which I think is more important, is when the structure of our supply side can better meet the changes in our demand side. Structural change in our supply side is strongly needed so that many of our suppliers can better respond to the changing demand. Otherwise, the economy will face great challenges. I think that is something we can do better. That is the biggest challenge, and that is something we can do.

 

Chen Jiulin, President of Beijing Joseph Investment Co.,Ltd Photo: Li Hao/GT


 

Chen Jiulin, President of Beijing Joseph Investment Co.,Ltd:

Perhaps we should credit the ownership system reform. Forty years ago we had only state-owned enterprises. Every product was produced by state-owned enterprises. But after opening up and reform, we have a multi-ownership system, such as state-owned, private enterprises, Sino-foreign joined venture and so on and now still I think we have room to improve the system, for example, to enhance the fairness and equality of business environment. We have come up to a new stage. Now we have not only foreign investment in China but also Chinese investment made overseas. We have a lot of mergers and acquisitions overseas. Now we say we are on a stage of "national treatment" for all types of companies, including state-owned, private, Sino-foreign and foreign-direct enterprises.


 

Eddie Chiu, National Managing Partner & Risk Advisory, Deloitte China Photo: Li Hao/GT


 
Eddie Chiu, National Managing Partner & Risk Advisory, Deloitte China:

We are now seeing quite a lot of countries becoming kind of skeptical about Chinese companies. I think that is one side of the story, but on the other hand on the Chinese side, I do think that from time to time they need to do a better job in contextualizing the way that they are putting things forward on the table. When I was talking to someone from Europe, I found they were not clear on what the Chinese company can bring to that table apart from money. A lot of our European counterparts are skeptical that maybe Chinese companies might wipe out the original workforce or try to bring in a lot of workers from China. That is what they have seen in some other Asian counties. I think that both sides need to address this confusion to arrive at a better equilibrium in the future.

Yang Yansui, Professor of School of Public Policy & Management, Tsinghua University Photo: Li Hao/GT





Yang Yansui, Professor of School of Public Policy & Management, Tsinghua University:

In the 1990s when China was reforming its state-owned enterprises, the rest of the world was very curious and concerned about how China would deal with the huge redundancy in the old system. The redundancy from state-owned enterprises was effectively put into different sectors: one-third went back to enterprises, one-third went to the market to create private companies and the service industry, and the last third went to pension plan. Then the average age was 47 - an early stage for retirement. It was a good policy back then, and it settled a big challenge, but now it could be a problem. After 2000, China became an aging society. Now, there are 0.2 billion pensioners and the pensions are from "three pillars" - the government, employers and individuals. The big challenge now is how to make a balance between those three pillars.

Culture

Gao Xiaowu, artist Photo: Li Hao/GT





Gao Xiaowu, artist:

A Chinese scholar said that Chinese culture is like a very even and peaceful lake. However, the lake is gigantic. Whatever stones that are thrown into the lake will cause waves but will settle down very quickly. I think this is a great description of how Chinese culture can be so inclusive. Chinese culture is very good at absorbing elements from other cultures, which also reflects the humbleness of Chinese culture. In contemporary history, China has been doing a lot to absorb cultures from other countries, especially from the West. Looking at recent years, I think the Belt and Road initiative is great. It gives us new opportunities. China is a culture that honors different beliefs including Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

Liang Lingling, associate professor at the China Conservatory of Music Photo: Li Hao/GT





Liang Lingling, associate professor at the China Conservatory of Music:

Music goes beyond borders and languages, and people can understand the beauty of art without knowledge of the country's languages. I play the erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument, and had some concerts overseas. When I first played in a foreign country, I was nervous and afraid that the local audience, many of whom have never been to China, might find it hard to understand my music. But when I started to play, all my worries were gone since I found that they listened to my expressions of music by heart and they understood even without a relevant cultural background.

Marielza Oliveira, director and representative of the Beijing Office of the UNESCO Photo: Li Hao/GT





Marielza Oliveira, director and representative of the Beijing Office of the UNESCO:

It is not easy to observe and understand the artistic expressions of all different cultures and that is why the important thing is to respect each culture and to understand that there is cultural diversity in the world. All of people's self-expressions are deeply rooted in their cultures, traditions and values, and it is needed to keep learning and appreciating other cultures and traditions. The creative industry is on the rise and what is fascinating is that now there are various technological products, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, helping us to translate, understand each other and experience art and culture. The technology will help us a lot to embrace cultural diversity.

Umut Ergunsu, PhD, School of International Studies, Peking University Photo: Li Hao/GT





Umut Ergunsu, PhD, School of International Studies, Peking University:

Although there are differences in food and language, there are many similarities when it comes to the total value. I also realized that in my experiences with international relations. The value in Chinese society and Chinese people has thousands of years of history. Value is harmony and peace within oneself and the relationship between man and nature as well as individual and state. Having said this, I understand that the Chinese value is not very different from ours.

 

Leonidas C. Rokanas, Greek Ambassador to China Photo: Li Hao/GT


 



Leonidas C. Rokanas, Greek Ambassador to China:

We should enrich our education. There are differences in terms of the focus on the education between Western countries and China. Therefore, we have to create an education system for a globalized world. Also, we are already trying to bring culture together. We have created an international group called the Ancient Civilizations Forum. There are eight countries with ancient civilizations in the group. China, as a member of the forum, has also helped us. All countries have their own very precious civilizations that enrich the world. We have to work a lot more to protect our civilizations and show them to the new generations because this is very essential for our identity.

Leela Mani Paudyal, Nepalese Ambassador to China Photo: Li Hao/GT





Leela Mani Paudyal, Nepalese Ambassador to China:

Culture is very important for human development. China has been greatly contributing to the promotion of intercultural exchange and understanding. Talking about Nepal and China, there have been many student exchanges on both sides. As China is creating a community of shared destiny, we can build on that community from the value inherited from Buddhist culture. As the birthplace of Buddha, Nepal can contribute to the development of a compassionate, harmonious and peaceful society through Buddhism values, and we also can learn from the Confucius philosophy. We can promote cultural exchange and understanding between our two societies and contribute to the social development of our two countries.





Posted in: METRO BEIJING

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