China Media Centre managed Boris Johnson’s first ever visit to China, to study higher education, just before he became Mayor of London
The Mayor of London and former MP for Henley
In 2006 the CMC arranged Boris Johnson MP’s first trip to China, when he was Conservative Higher Education Spokesman. He and the Director of CMC travelled together to Shanghai and Peking where they were filmed by BBC Newsnight.
Photo: Boris Johnson in China
2006年，时任影子内阁高等教育部发言人、现任伦敦市长Boris Johnson 在中国传媒中心的安排下，与中心主任戴雨果教授一起，展开了他的首次中国之行；他们在上海和北京的行程由BBC的新闻之夜栏目（News Night）摄制成专题节目在黄金时间播出。
Steam-rollering into the future (Review of Hugo de Burgh’s China: Friend or Foe?)
Spectator, Wednesday, 28th June 2006
You’d better hurry if you want to see any of old Beijing. The lovely higgledy-piggledy brick hutongs are being blitzed in readiness for the 2008 Olympics. Even in the Hou Hai district, supposedly one of the last zones of ancient tranquillity, the imperial lakes are fringed with trashy bars and ugly black sound systems spilling on to the pavement.
Not far away tourists are taken to inspect the old codgers playing chess and mah-jong, surrounded by caged birds. The oldsters like to look at the birdies, the tourist will be told in a whisper. It was one of the simple pleasures that Mao destroyed. The dictator took it into his head that it was an act of bourgeois decadence even to admire birdsong or plumage. So children went around banging tin trays and the birds were driven from the trees.
Photo: Boris Johnson joining in exercise at the Peking University.
As you look at these elderly victims of Maoist insanity, you can’t help wondering whether all the pundits are right about China. This is a place that still refuses to acknowledge the evil of Mao, and where his visage still hangs, fringed with tassels, from the rear-view mirror of buses. Are those mole-covered jowls really the face of the new China? Is it possible that this one-party state will achieve the kind of global dominance that some have recently forecast? In this clear, concise and fact-stuffed summary, Hugo de Burgh gives you all you need to make a pretty shrewd guess.
For those who think we’d all better take crash courses in Mandarin, the statistics are terrifying. China now consumes more red meat than any other country, and in the next five years will become a bigger trading nation than the US. Last year there were 50,000 miles of three-lane highway under construction, and new metro systems were being constructed in 26 cities, as well as 30 nuclear power stations. Shanghai has the world’s tallest hotel, the biggest shop, the highest television tower and the fastest train.
The Chinese middle class is exploding — I expect a thousand or so have been added to the ranks of the bourgeoisie since you began this article — and will number about 200 million this year. These are of course buying ever more cars, clothes and electrical appliances, and Goldman Sachs estimates that within ten years the Chinese will be buying 29 per cent of the world’s luxury goods. The Chinese are rapidly expanding their educational system, and they continue to excel in the crunchy subjects that British students find so off-putting. Almost 60 per cent of Chinese undergraduates study the sciences or engineering, compared to 36 per cent in the UK. How can they lose?
Well, as de Burgh points out, China is still a developing country, with per capita GDP of about $1,000 per year. We all have it in our heads that China is the world’s economic powerhouse; and yet the country is still afflicted by such poverty as to qualify for the world’s biggest slice of World Bank assistance. Never forget that the Chinese must feed a quarter of mankind with only 10 per cent of the world’s cultivable land, and with only 25 per cent of the global average per capita water supply.
That is why so much of China has been deforested or turned into a desert or a dump for nuclear waste, and the forced march to capitalism is producing anguish that can be every bit as painful as the Cultural Revolution. Villagers are killed if they protest against the expropriation of their land for development. In 2004 there were 74,000 protests of one kind or another, and yet there is no democratic outlet for these feelings.
Every university department has a party leader, every newspaper editor is under party control, and judicial decisions are subject to political review. Corruption is everywhere, tax is raised in a pretty arbitrary fashion, and a rickety social security system must cope with what promises to be the mother and father of all pensions crises — because each mother and father is only allowed one child, with the result that 27 per cent of the population will be over 60 by 2050.
Feed all these factors into your equation, and you begin to see why there is a case for a moderate sinoscepticism, a belief that all this hysteria about China may be slightly overdone. As Hugo de Burgh rightly concludes, there is no reason to fear China. She is no foe. He provides ample evidence that her march to global dominance will take much longer than some are currently predicting, and that in the meantime her integration to the capitalist system has been, on the whole, good for China and good for us. It’s Win Win, as some snazzy new Beijing nightclub has no doubt been auspiciously named.Tags: gallery