China Dinner with Catherine West MP
On Thursday, a group of Young Fabians convened with Catherine West MP to discuss the UK- China relationship.
Catherine opened her remarks by welcoming the Young Fabians upcoming delegation to China in October, saying how important it is for the UK to engage with and understand China in a meaningful way. She spent one year living in China and studied an MA in China Studies at SOAS.
She discussed three issues with which she felt it would be important for Young Fabians delegates to engage.
Firstly, she raised economics and recent volatility in Chinese markets. While this has the potential to impact UK manufacturing and financial sectors, she was confident that there will be no major economic collapse in China. Rather, it is a signal that we may need to reassess our expectation of Chinese growth rates in future.
Of particular importance to Catherine was our education market and leadership in this sector globally. With fewer Chinese students studying at Universities in the UK as a result of visa issues and competition from other English speaking markets, her worry was that our social, cultural and economic capital may be diminished in 10-15 years time when these students are influential in business, politics and society.
Secondly she raised human rights and rule of law referencing Tibet as an issues that is often high on our agenda. She encouraged delegates to find a diplomatic way to raise human rights issues during the visit.
She also mentioned China’s track record on environment and big infrastructure projects, which have often been associated with human rights abuses particularly around the relocation of communities. But Catherine mentioned that we can also learn from the Chinese particularly in terms of how they have managed to improve the environmental performance of factories and manufacturing sector.
Finally, Catherine encouraged delegates to visit the 1937 Nanjing massacre memorial to help understand the long and intertwined history of our two countries and how this continues to affect Chinese psyche and policy today.
The Young Fabians will be taking a delegation of 6 members to Beijing from 12th-16th October to explore innovative social and economic policy solutions and build relationships with other young persons groups in China. The last Young Fabians delegation to China took place in the 1980s. Both the UK and China have changed significantly since then so it will be interested to discover what major challenges the country now faces, how they are dealing with these challenges and whether there is anything the UK can learn from and apply to our own challenges.
Thank you to Catherine for sharing your insights and to the Star of Bombay for hosting us.