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Time to promote public's international awareness
(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-11 07:07

In his speech delivered at the Communist Party of China Central Committee's Party School late last month, President Hu Jintao urged government officials at various levels study the new challenges and opportunities arising from China's overall involvement in the economic globalization process.

Government officials at all levels are required to have a thorough understanding of the new tasks and questions in the context of the country's deepening industrialization, urbanization, marketization and internationalization.

China is now at a new historical starting point and is therefore presented with many new problems arising from the deepening process of industrialization, urbanization, marketization and internationalization.

The country has a task ahead to resolve these issues.

I would like to concentrate my analysis on the questions arising from the process of internationalization.

Poor international awareness constitutes a very weak point in the cognitive ability of the Chinese, including officials at various levels, in the opinion of this author.

We see many Chinese, whether officials, scholars, business people or members of the public, often ill at ease in the presence of foreigners.

They handle things inappropriately in dealing with the outside world, respond slowly to new happenings, and try hard to whitewash errors in order to save face.

All this has its roots in their ignorance of the outside world.

Many factors help to explain this kind of ignorance. But most important of all, it is primarily the seclusion or semi-seclusion in which the Chinese found themselves in the past.

The ideological isolation during the Cold War also partly explains this ignorance, and the lack of knowledge of the world and its history.

For example, international economics, politics and law have accounted for a very small portion of a college's curriculum. Lately, some relevant departments have gone so far as to propose that subjects like world politics and economics be removed from a college's curriculum of common required courses.

At present, new questions, which demand good mastery and proper handling, have been occurring in relations between China and African countries, the United States, European Union, Japan, Southeast Asia and Oceania.

These issues not only concern the prospects of China's exports but also have a good deal to do with the country's breaking the energy bottle neck in the future.

All this requires that the country's foreign policy and strategy, involving politics, economics, culture, diplomacy, international military cooperation and emergency handling, be re-examined and upgraded.

Fresh ideas and thinking that are in keeping with the times ought to be brought into existing policies and strategic frameworks.

For that purpose, a number of effective measures should be taken as soon as possible.

First, the government needs to thoroughly re-evaluate the organizations and institutions engaged in international research and education, including their staff, while increasing financial input into this system.

Short, medium and long-term research should be decided upon for the purpose of facilitating academic exchanges with the international community.

Second, international learning should be included in civil servants' education and training programs.

Third, world geography, history and arts should be made compulsory courses for elementary and secondary education and world politics and economics be included in common required courses of colleges and universities.

Fourth, the spreading of humanity's cultural accomplishments among the public should be listed as one of the basic undertakings in educational campaigns aimed at raising people's quality.

Letting the Chinese know the world has now become imperative.

The author is a researcher with the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies

(China Daily 07/11/2007 page10)