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China's future debated at Oxford

By Wang Mingjie in Oxford | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2018-03-04 23:05

"Global, economic and questioning" are the three key words used by an Oxford University China expert to describe today's China.

Rana Mitter, director of the University of Oxford China Centre, said at a two-day forum in Oxford that by "questioning" he hopes China will become "a country that is not content with simply looking inwards, but instead a country constantly asking big publicly loud questions to itself and to the wide world and engaging in a genuine dialogue".

This year's Oxford China Forum, themed "A New China", explored how contemporary China, with its powerful economy and surge in political power, might address domestic and international challenges.

The topic of "Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind" was heatedly discussed by scholars and audiences at the forum. The concept has been mentioned by President Xi Jinping both at home and abroad.

"This shows a commitment of open-mindedness of China to global governance," said Yang Xiao, a lecturer in Chinese public governance and international relations at the Lau China Institute at King's College London.

"I think it's resorting to a common sense, not a philosophic concept as such. It is a concept which everybody can find some affinity, so I think in that sense it could have a good appeal and a broad reach in the international community," she added.

She explained that, in terms of China's engagement on the policy level, the Belt and Road Initiative emphasizes connecting different parts of the Eurasian land mass and creating huge opportunities for developing countries to co-develop in a cooperative manner with China.

Mitter said China should continue what it has been doing, in terms of becoming a cooperative builder of international order, and make sure that it is embedded in international institutions.

"If we look at transnational crises such as the international refugee crisis, in Syria, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, China could make its voice heard even more clearly than it is now, he said. "I think that would be welcomed as a country that doesn't necessarily have vested political interest in those particular areas, so making that voice louder could be an important contribution to that cause."

The conference also explored topics such as "Rural Chinese Society", "Designed in China", "Wisdom of China" and "Sharing Economy" with 28 speakers participating in seven different panel discussions.

More than 900 tickets were sold to the general public during the two-day conference. Speakers include Professor Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, and Zhu Qin, minister and deputy head of mission at the Chinese embassy in the UK.

Established in 2013 by a group of China-enthusiasts at Oxford, the Oxford China Forum is a student-run annual conference that has the mission of presenting a fair and up-to-date image of China abroad, bridging the knowledge gap by bringing together world-leading experts and a diverse audience.

An Oxford China Forum spokesperson said: "As China takes a more active role in the global community, the need for the forum to foster understanding and mutual-respect is greater than ever."

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