Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Beijing Olympics’

Paddy, China and the Future of the World

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 16th September, 2008

       The West made a serious mistake in humiliating the Soviet Union following the collapse of Communism, rubbing Moscow’s nose in its failure rather as the Allies did to Germany after the First World War. That was the gist of some of the remarks by former Liberal Democrat leader Lord (Paddy) Ashdown at the Chinese Liberal Democrats’ second birthday banquet in Bournemouth last night. Deploying his Mandarin to wish ‘ten thousand years’ to the host organisation, Paddy said we must not make the same mistake regarding China. Russia’s intervention in Georgia and the associated resurgent Russian nationalism are understandable, if undesirable. Continually castigating China could also provoke a backlash. Indeed, we saw something of that with the plethora of anti-Western comments on the Chinese blogosphere in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Paddy sees the need for a new approach to the realities of the 21st century multi-polar world. We got only a hint of what that should be last night, but he is busy writing a new book that will doubtless elucidate things, and he will be going an extensive book tour next June to promote it.

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Learning to Live with China

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 9th August, 2008

When I chose to read Chinese for my undergraduate degree at Oxford, nearly 40 years ago, most people thought I was cracked. The Cultural Revolution was in full swing and China was essentially cut off from the rest of the world. But how things have changed since then! The spectacularly choreographed opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics yesterday was more than just an expensive show. It was the Chinese people standing up and saying loudly: ‘We’re back!’

One important thing to remember about these Games is that the vast majority of Chinese (even among the overseas diaspora) are enormously proud of the event and of China’s phenomenal economic growth over the past 30 years. Of course, there are many shortcomings, such as environmental pollution, human rights abuses and persistent rural poverty. But China has made giant strides.

Moreover, however much we in the West might — justly — criticise the Chinese Communist government’s failings, we should acknowledge that China is here to stay and that we have to work together. I am not suggesting that eveone follows my example and learns Chinese to facilitate that. But it would be a good idea for people — including European politicians — to know more about the Middle Kingdom and its rich history and contributions to world civilization so that we can forge a new kind of partnership.

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