In his UoN Q&A session, questions ranged from the American Presidential elections, to parking permits, to the legalisation of cannabis. David Miliband also took some time to address the role of China on the world stage and the opportunities that its rise has presented to the rest of the world.
The former Foreign Secretary began by showing his awareness of Nottingham’s close connections with China, through the Ningbo campus. He stated his belief that the mixing of students from each country was mutually beneficial, referring specifically to the opportunity to learn from one another’s culture. Miliband concluded his point, again showing his internationalist stance, by adding “the modern world is about connection and not separation”.
A key area of concern was China’s role in a modern “globally conscious” world, with Miliband going as far as to state that the upcoming Chinese leadership change, with a new Politburo under Xi Jinping formally taking over the reins in March 2013, would be more consequential than the recent U.S. Presidential elections.
Miliband qualified this by explaining that the new leadership were amongst the first generation to be in their adulthood since the opening up of China and that he therefore expects them to hold a different world view as a result of this from their predecessors.
This optimism however was tempered with the acknowledgment that while China and its leadership are moving forward, politically it is still a considerable way from being a “multi-party democracy”, and that the “radical change” he expects in China is unlikely to happen immediately, with it more likely to occur in years five, six and seven of the new political order.
In response to questions posed about the American Presidential election Miliband continued his optimistic outlook, referring to the rise of China as a world player as an “opportunity and not a threat”.
Miliband continued, stating that Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s decision to call China a currency manipulator was misguided. He labelled Romney’s China policy as “dangerous”, due to the fact that it looked at the world through a Cold War prism. He suggested that we now live in a far more multi-polar world.
Miliband brushed aside the accusations of Chinese currency manipulation, pointing out that one could equally claim that quantitative easing in the UK could labelled as a form of currency manipulation. He added that accusations against China would invoke in a strong “reaction in the other direction that would leave us all worse off”. Miliband also downplayed concerns of China’s increasing power, describing Chinese policy as being concerned with its own “internal stability” rather than being fundamentally expansionist and intent on “global domination”.
Summarising, Miliband stated that he believed the chance for the West to learn from the rise of China to be “a remarkable opportunity for the rest of the world” mentioning throughout the Q&A session that Britain is part of an increasingly “interdependent world” and that China has a very strong part in shaping it.