On Tuesday 14th October we hosted our first speaker event of the academic year 2014/2015, and welcomed Dr Daniel Hammond from Edinburgh University and Dr Oliver Hesengerth from Northumbria Univeristy to speak on ‘China and the rise of the East.’
We had a absolutely brilliant turn out, with almost 100 PolSoc members attending the talk in room 102 Al Qasimi building. Dr Hammond spoke to us first about the process of forming domestic policies in China, and how the ideas for these are subsequently manifested in foreign policy making. He made the point that due to democratic censorship and socialist aims, there are significant boundaries in policy making. Although the fundamental concern when making policies is to maintain social stability and avoid upheaval, the underlying mission of the Chinese government is the drive for wealth and power. He also spoke about Beijing’s implementation of policies on the self-governed provinces and smaller rural regions, and how this system causes a varied interpretation of these policies in different provincial governments. The layers of government cause a fragmentation of the Chinese state, which has still not been unified: China needs to be a responsible power regarding foreign policy, yet the states’ fragmentation makes this difficult.
Dr Hesengerth then said a few words about the China’s role internationally, in foreign investment and infrastructure. He told us that China had no generic strategy for foreign development, but that there are some strategies currently in development. Each system needs to be considered and adapted to the country with which China works with, bearing in mind the resources and political conditions of each country. In the second half of his talk, Dr Hesengerth focused on the different factors affecting China’s foreign investment. Foreign investment is supported by concessional loans funded by Chinese foreign aid system, which are separate from commercial and profit orientated investment. In particular, environmental sustainability in industrial countries affects policy making: the Chinese government must comply with environmental protection. If companies do not adhere to global policies on investment, and begin construction before environmental approval, they risk being black-listed, and this has indeed happened to various companies involved in Chinese foreign investment.
Overall, we were able to enjoy an insight two incredible interesting areas of research, and we hope that those of you who managed to get a seat enjoyed yourselves, and are looking forward to our next event (6th November).