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How Should Britain and the EU Deal with the Rise of China?

On 29 March 2007, Dr. Steve Tsang, Louis Cha Senior Research Fellow in Modern Chinese Studies, University Reader in Politics, and Director of Taiwan Studies Program at Oxford University, gave a lecture at the China & the World Speaker Series. He began by noting that China’s rise is often misunderstood. Based on its contribution to world output, China is still well below its historical average. It may be more accurate to say China is reemerging rather than rising. At the same time, China faces significant obstacles to future development that may influence its capacity to rise further, including a heavy reliance on foreign investment and considerable ecological challenges. The brittleness of the Chinese regime, along with Beijing’s stated commitment to maintaining a harmonious international environment, means that Western powers should not treat China as a threat. Doing so will only create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather, the international community should look for ways to translate China’s professed commitment to international peace into reality. China should be held to its public rhetoric, which means getting China to play a more constructive role in a variety of areas such as the conflict in Sudan and the Six-Party Talks. Dr. Tsang also recommends the establishment of an EU-China Human Rights Council that would grant both sides equal access in investigations and be based on a common set of standards. (Phillip Stalley)