West urged to understand more about China

Updated: 2012-02-05 19:32


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LONDON - As China is growing stronger and becoming increasingly important in the global arena, western people should learn more about Chinese, while China should adjust its policies for further development, said some British experts on Saturday.

Hugo de Burgh, a professor of journalism and director of the China Media Center at the University of Westminster, shared his experiences visiting China and meeting Chinese journalists with the audiences at the China Forum in the Warwick University.

He noted that the trip actually changed some of his points of views. Talking about Wenchuan, the worst-hit area by the May 12 earthquake in 2008, he said that he was surprised at the speed and efficiency that the city was rebuilt.

"We have assumed that every country should take a path as the United States and the United Kingdom to succeed...but it is possible for a society which is not the same as the western to be mobilized quickly," he said.

The professor was also amazed at the growth of new media in China and the increasing openness of media to cover more areas. "As a result, disasters are very thoroughly covered, and officials more and more scared of being naughty," he said.

Martin Jacques, a columnist for the Times, the Observer and the Guardian, and author of the book When China Rules the World, believed that the Chinese people tend to attach a lot of importance to the unity of the country.

"For 2,000 years through history of unity, the physical and linguistic differences among the majority of people were narrowed," he said, pointing out that as a result, people have a strong sense of identity as one race. He called it a civilization-state, as opposed to the nation-state.

While the western people think that state should be restrained, the Chinese view the country more as a family. "Sometimes western people have the nation-state mentality," he said. "But we shouldn't impose our way of thinking to China without trying to understand it."

However, other experts noted that China should make some reform so as to keep its growing momentum.

Jonathan Fenby, formerly an editor of the South China Morning Post, the Observer and Reuters, and author of five books on China, said that China is to undergo a transition along with the leadership reshuffle this year.

His personal favourite Chinese leader being Deng Xiaoping, Fenby said that China needs some legal reform so as to address to the problems including development imbalance, regional disparity, environment problems, wealth gap, corruption, etc.

Talking especially about multinational companies in China, Duncan Innes-Ker, a senior editor for the Economist Intelligence Unit, believed that China should facilitate the foreign countries in the country for a win-win result.

He said that foreign countries could offer advanced technology and jobs, and lobby in their home market against sanction, but they are faced with problems like complicated regulatory market and worried about policy consistency.