Letter published in the Financial Times
Perhaps We Should Be More Open to a New Development Model
Sir – Jamil Anderlini, in “China’s great rejuvenation has a dark side” (June 22), raises a critical issue; once China achieves its “rejuvenation”, how will it behave? His analysis falls short because it conflates the desire of the Chinese people for rejuvenation with issues of race.
By characterising the Chinese intent as potentially racist, and noting that “race-based ideas of national rejuvenation and manifest destiny have deep and uncomfortable echoes in 20th-century history,” we fail to understand the true significance of what China is doing. China sees western modernisation as fundamentally competitive, resulting in rational individuals but irrational communities.
Britain needs partners in the world
It is proposing a new development model. For example, in the One Belt, One Road initiative, China will lead the construction of high-speed railways, aviation hubs, oil and gas pipelines, power stations and telecommunications networks that will eventually connect the whole of the Eurasian continent from Paris to Vladivostok. This project relieves China of some surplus capacity, but it also benefits the landlocked central Asian states. It is like US President Donald Trump spending $20bn on an industrial park instead of a wall so that the Mexicans had better jobs, stopped coming to the US and formed a big market for American goods.
Britain needs partners in the world and has an enormous amount to offer China in the creative industries, financial services, sport, the arts and education. China’s success, which lifted 400m out of absolute poverty, was based on ‘reform and opening up.’ Perhaps we should open up our own minds to a new development model that aims for peaceful co-operation and the elimination of wealth disparities. We must not allow ourselves to be frightened away by ideas of new racial conflicts but instead remember that the slogan to the right of Mao’s portrait on the front of the Forbidden City reads: “Long Live the Great Unity of the Peoples of the World!”
June 26, 2017