The great engagement legacy of the Beijing Olympics was that ignorance and fear of China is steadily declining as the reality of modern China becomes more apparent to the rest of the world.
The problem for the West is that China often thinks of itself as a developing nation, and it is a developing nation, but it is also today a world power. And here is my very crude theory of international relations: when people in the West look at a developing nation, they say, “Isn’t that nice—that poor developing nation—how can we help?” But when they look at another nation and they say, “That’s a power,” then they say, “What does that mean for us?” And this is the dual
situation: China is a developing nation; it is also a power. And so, when I was asked yesterday by someone, “Do people in the West regard China as a threat?” the answer is some, possibly. But for most people in the West, they just ask, “What does it mean?”
” For centuries, the power has resided in the West, with various European powers including the British Empire and then, in the 20th century, the U.S. Now the West must come to terms with a world in which the power is shared with the Far East. I wonder if we quite understand what that means, we whose culture (not just our politics and economies) has dominated for so long. It will be a rather strange, possibly unnerving experience for some. Personally, I think it will be incredibly enriching. New experiences, new ways of thinking liberate creative energy.
Essentially what I’m saying, and what Ambassador Fu has been saying for many years, is that we should not fear the new and unfamiliar. People and nations excel when they’re willing to learn from and respect each other. That is the way of the 21st century and that is the way China and the West must engage. Reading this book and knowing this extraordinary woman, you’ll find that Fu Ying has been working on this for many years.
Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
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