The rise of China: now comes the hard part
Jonathan Fenby is perhaps best-known for his newspaper work; he has worked in some form of editorial capacity for The Independent, The Guardian, The Observer, and, more unusually, the South China Morning Post. He is also an author. On Wednesday 6th February, he came to Exeter College to discuss the future of China; a topic which, considering the numbers in the Lodgings, is as interesting for Exonians as those in Beijing.
With over a billion people, and an area almost forty times bigger than Britain, China can become extremely difficult to fathom. In less than twenty minutes however, Fenby gave a whistle-stop tour of its history, from the end of the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century, to Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms of 1978. Questions from the audience ran to topics as wide-ranging as human rights, the environment, military might, and even the Chinese language.
‘China does not want to take over the world’, says Fenby: ‘it wants influence’. But for Fenby, this influence is by no means secure, and several ‘looming issues’ – the sustainability of its population, its widening wealth gap, the matter of North Korea – all pose significant challenges to its future.
Fenby’s latest book, The Penguin History of Modern China, will hit shelves in May 2008.