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Monday, December 5, 2022

CHINA – THE CHALLENGE OF HISTORY #394

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GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON

I am giving a talk in London this week + the title is; China – The Challenge of History.

Is history an irreversible tide? Can we today affect the outcomes of tomorrow? Where do we sit when we view the present in the context of earlier eras in world history? These are always the most interesting questions + they touch on themes of time, generations, eras, epochs, centuries + more. In the framework of years down the ages we, in 2022, might appear to count for little. That is always the case at any one moment in time + the 21st Century is no different. And yet, today in 2022, we are in the midst of significant changes that will have a Century long impact upon the world as we know it.

This Column focuses on China – not because I was fortunate to visit for the first time in 1965 or because China is increasingly attracting the attention of diplomats, academics + businessmen/women or because of Covid or the South China Sea or Taiwan but because the single most far-reaching phenomenon of our time, regardless of whether you approve or disapprove of China, is not Man reaching the Moon but the rise of China. It changes everything – the models for economic growth, the models for political development, and the models for governance.

China does not boast that it or its system is the best – just that it works for China because of China’s particular historical journey. Other countries may follow China’s example + others may choose a different path but the achievement in lifting 1 billion of its people out of poverty at a time when third world poverty remains an ever-present issue does cause an increasing number of countries to pause, examine, study + reflect on how this was achieved.

Additionally, China will shortly become the world’s largest economic power – again prompting questions as to how + why this history-changing phenomenon has occurred. It is in this context that historians of the future will look back to 2022 + wonder what contemporaries thought at the time these events occurred.

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