Articles and analysis

The Impact of Climate Change on Global Security and World Affairs

Transcript of a lecture given by Sir Crispin Tickell GCMG, KCVO to Global Security Forum

15th October 2007

Sir Crispin Tickell is Director of the Policy Foresight Programme at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization. His main interests are in the fields of environment and international affairs. Most of his career was in the Diplomatic Service, culminating in his appointment as British Permanent Representative to the UN (1987-90). He then became Warden of Green College, Oxford (1990-97), President of the Royal Geographical Society (1990-93); and Director of the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy and Understanding (1992-2006). Sir Crispin is the author of 'Climatic Change and World Affairs', first published in 1977.

The title of the talk that we agreed upon was the impact of climate change on global security and world affairs. It is a very big subject and many of you could contribute as well as I could on this subject, but I am now going to take you on a kind of rapid run through the thing in the hope that you will indeed ask some difficult questions, because the more difficult the question, the more interesting it is to try and answer it.

First, security is, of course, an overworked word. It can be global security, it can be national security, it can be individual security. One definition that is quite useful is the assurance that people have that they will continue to enjoy those things that are most important to their survival and well-being - this at least underlies the somewhat subjective character of security and the way it differs according to different circumstances. Fears about environmental catastrophe have in some respects replaced fears that people used to have about the dangers of nuclear war and an east-west conflict which would destroy everything. I think the trouble is that, in both cases, it induces a feeling of helplessness, both on the part of individuals and on the part of institutions. Now by contrast, military authorities of any kind cannot afford to be too romantic about it or indeed, too intimidated. They have got to work out what to do and it is quite interesting how much military authorities from different countries have already focused on the implications of climate change. There have been papers that I have seen recently written by the Pentagon and by the Ministry of Defence and incorporated to some degree into their strategic planning. I won't say that those august bodies actually gave me copies of their papers but in this age of leaks, one can learn a lot. I do not want to go into this too much, because you must be exhausted by hearing about climate change, but let me just quickly run through the main aspects of climate change, which is a word that I prefer to avoid using if I can – I prefer to use the term 'climate destabilisation'.

Last year, the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir David King, said that climate change was a bigger threat to society than terrorism. In a few words, the problem relates primarily, but not exclusively, to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which are now at their highest level for 650,000 years and if things continue as they are, we will be back in conditions not dissimilar from those 125,000 years ago, when conditions in the earth were very different from those today.

In such an event, you would have to re-do all the geography books, re-draw the sea levels, re-draw the cities and so on and so forth. So we are now set on a path which is not unalike what happened 125,000 years ago.

All this of course, has been well brought out in the successive reports of the three working groups of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which with Al Gore, as you have just been reminded, won the Nobel Peace Prize last week. The implications for security were thereby very well brought out. We do not have to agree with every word that was in the Intergovernmental Panel reports, nor do we have to agree with everything that Al Gore said, but I do not think that anyone has challenged the broad conclusions of either. Of course, there is a serious dispute and every now and then you find it comes out in the newspapers or elsewhere, but it relates primarily to the distinction between natural change and human-driven change. Natural change is happening all the time and we are now much better aware of the fluctuations of the past than we used to be. We all live in that little patch of time, which is just about 12,000 years long – nothing in geological terms – and which has been warm since the last recession of the glaciers. If you look back, you can see that there have been periods when it has been much warmer than this and also periods when it has been much colder than this.

But you have these little fluctuations that are happening all the time and there are certain points to watch, little 'indication points' of where things are going and what is going on. One is the state of the Amazonian rain forest, which I should say had terrible droughts in the last couple of years; one would be the direction of the ocean current, particularly in the North Atlantic; another would be the release of methane from beneath the tundra and the ocean bed; and the pattern of the Indian monsoon, a very critical factor; and the state of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets and sea ice.

Now when you look at those things, you cannot avoid the conclusion that change is taking place at an accelerated rate and this is human-driven and that is perhaps the central and most important message of these scientific reports to which I referred. The results for society are becoming clearer every day and could become more so with a rich variety of positive feedbacks. In a few words, these results include changes in weather everywhere, with a different distribution of rainfall and drought and more extreme events like storms and floods; more melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets (I went up to have a look myself last year at what was happening in the Arctic and a couple of years before that, I went down to Antarctica to see that too); increasing sea level rise – at the moment it is going up about 2mm a year and accelerating; acidification of some upper layers of the ocean with changes to biological content of the upper layers of the oceans worldwide; and changes in eco-systems generally, including insects and micro-organisms. In other words, there is a huge pattern of change taking place, but in recording these main events, I should mention that there are of course, many uncertainties.

While those uncertainties may be becoming less important and people are trying to narrow them, nonetheless there are many uncertainties. You have what are called tipping points between one climate regime and another: it is a very important concept, because in the past, the change is not gradual like a line on a graph, it goes in little stabs and movements up and down and changes quite quickly and you do not quite know what is going to happen. A major eco-system change will completely change the character of the other living organisms around it and likewise, the storms and the hurricanes and the rest with it. And then as I say, the other big uncertainty is the possible range of dislocations on weather patterns worldwide. There is the recent paper written by the European Commission which brought together these points very well and increasingly its predictions for some of the effects in Europe are exactly opposite to those made by the Pentagon, so you pays your money and you takes your choice! In any case, climate change has to be linked, directly or indirectly, to the other great issues of our time. Climate change is not a big problem by itself, it is linked to all these other points, above all, human population growth and the resulting patterns of migration, whether for environmental or political reasons; land degradation; resource depletion; waste accumulation and deforestation with manifest effects on agriculture and the supply of food; pollution and the supply of water, both fresh and salt; the prospects of sea level rise affecting many of the world's major cities; destruction of biodiversity - that is the code word for the other living organisms large and small, on which humans wholly depend. I think sometimes people forget the degree to which we do depend on them – we could not digest, we could not breathe, without the help of the bacteria inside us; and their good health is our good health. Then you have got, of course, human health in all its aspects and control of possible pandemics; the effects of the switch to non-fossil fuel sources of energy, in particular biofuels and feedstocks - a very big subject and again, much in controversy at the moment; and the human propensity to use violence, big or small, to settle disputes - a very important and disagreeable reminder of what we are like.

We also to have to reckon with the consequences of possible mistakes in technology. There was a near miss in the 1960s, which I think that most people have now forgotten, over the development of technologies which would have done still more damage than chlorofluorocarbons to the ozone layer, which of course reduces the impact of certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light on humans and other forms of life. Innovation of technology is very important, but please do not think that technology is ever going to produce the answers. Some in the United States have a habit of thinking so, not least the President, but in my view, it is simply wishful thinking. Work on the impact of climate change inevitably needs to take account of these other issues in which climate is intertwined.

First some history – it is always useful to look back and see what has happened in the past. I do not know whether you have seen, any of you, Jared Diamond's book, called 'Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed' in which he examines why societies as he calls it, choose to survive or fail, but he makes the point in the book that, for example, the degradation of Rwanda and the genocide of much of its population was due to a lethal mix of over-population, deterioration of soils and recurrent droughts. And the same can also be said of current events in Darfur, themselves precipitated in part by drought, in turn precipitated by changes in the Indian monsoon, in turn precipitated by ocean warming. In the long past, the collapse of the civilisations of the Indus valley and of the cultures in pre-Colombia and Mexico were all caused by a comparable mix of circumstances.

Now all complicated societies like ours are vulnerable, especially those led by cities where about half the human species now live. They can be likened to organisms drawing in food, material and energy and water, and emitting waste. Once supplies are cut off, they and their apparatus of institutions can easily become destabilised. In this regard, the supply of energy from whatever source is crucial: Europe and the United States are both very vulnerable in that respect. For more rural societies dependent on one or two crops, there are even more direct threats to health and well-being. Then, as I have said before, there is depletion of resources, including the consumption of fossil water from aquifers, something that is very marked at the moment in China. Over-cultivation and deforestation again can be linked to changes in rainfall and are a lively source of conflict. Even opening up new resources is not always benign: there are already burgeoning disputes between Russia, the United States, Canada and possibly other countries, over ownership of the land underlying the North Pole and navigation rights over the North West Passage. Reactions to change, of course, are varied. There can be the famous defensive reactions which can lead to the building of virtual fortresses round relatively rich countries to keep out intruders and protect resources.

The same goes for relatively rich communities within generally poor countries and I expect that most of you have seen examples of that, whether in California or indeed in Bangladesh. But walls of this kind are never effective for long. The Israelis will be no more capable of keeping out the Palestinians than the Americans are at keeping out Mexicans and others from Central America. So those are the kinds of defensive reactions. Then you come to the offensive reactions, particularly if a country is worse hit by change, including invasion by others, movement of refugees, ethnic rivalries and terrorist or guerrilla actions against rich countries.

We forget that globalisation cuts both ways. In the recent Pentagon paper, some possible scenarios were explored for the years 2010-2020 and 2020-2030. They included large movements of population driven north or south by changes in climate; conflict over water and other essential resources; and competition for fuel resources, whether in Europe, Asia or the Americas. Of course, in the past when human numbers were small, people could and did move as circumstances changed. But we are no longer hunter gatherers and a chilling conclusion of the Pentagon paper was that the results of climate change could be – and I quote – 'a significant drop in the carrying capacity of the earth's environment'. And then inequities between countries, as between communities, become even less tolerable than today and a potent source of conflict. In well-favoured countries, climate change may largely be a problem of adaptation, but for poor ones it is a matter of survival. For example, millions of people could be uprooted in Bangladesh, the Sahel, and parts of India and China.

Half the world's population rely directly on local renewable resources for day to day well-being. It is a problem which people tend to minimize, but I have seen for myself occasions when globalisation means that, for the first time ever, people actually understand what is happening in poor countries and they can witness for themselves how rich countries live. I remember once being in Amazonia and the boat was going downstream – a rather luxurious boat – and up the other way came some local people paddling their canoes and one could not help thinking, 'well, that's them and this is us' and then from the canoe, I heard a transistor radio broadcasting the latest information, so we no longer live in a world in which there are compartments: this is globalisation in one of its aspects.And then, of course, the current redistribution of power and wealth means a redistribution of soft as well as hard power, hard power being military power, soft power being the force of moral influence. The primacy enjoyed by the early industrial countries and now the United States and Europe is unlikely to last much longer. I go to China every year and I have been for the last 15 years and I do assure you that things are changing very fast. The implications for defence policy from all these factors go far and wide, from protection of key facilities to global humanitarian actions. The taking of effective action to cope with this disparate collection of problems, some global, some national and some individual, will require, whether we like it or not, a new international framework or at least a substantial adaptation of the existing framework. I think we all have to recognise the porous character of sovereignty, seen in the declining power of nation states and to learn to think more globally.

First is the UN Security Council whose fundamental task is the preservation of peace and security and it could be called upon to cope with new and unfamiliar threats to security. As you probably know, Margaret Beckett, then Foreign Secretary, raised the security implications of climate change in the Security Council in April, and some other members welcomed the ensuing debate on the subject, while others felt extremely uncomfortable. Many years ago, I also raised the issue in the Security Council with a conspicuous lack of success. The implications go far and wide and could involve a substantial increase in the responsibilities of the Council.

But obviously some sort of international organisation, whether the Security Council or something else, will be required to establish, to regulate, to monitor and dare I say it, to enforce any global treaty to reduce carbon emissions. The security implications are obvious and here are some questions which we have to ask: should there be a permanent inspectorate and/or a permanent peacekeeping force with powers of intervention across frontiers? Should there be some connection with a central criminal court, itself the subject of considerable controversy? Should there be measures to cope with free riders and other offenders, possibly through sanctions, although we all know sanctions are less than perfect as a means of coercion?

We could certainly try and build on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 and whatever may be agreed at Bali in December in the forthcoming meetings. A more ambitious idea would be something which I have long favoured, which is the creation of a World Environmental Organisation, to be the partner of the World Trade Organisation and which would bring together, under its umbrella, all the existing environmental bodies and agreements and thereby cut out a lot of waste and duplication and lack of proper direction. And I may add that it would be no enemy to the World Trade Organisation, indeed one of the recent Directors of the World Trade Organisation strongly favoured this idea himself. Now none of this will be easy. Looking ahead at the prospects for security, we seem to be in for a bumpy ride.

Violence within and between communities and between nation states could well increase. Global arrangements are always fraught with difficulties – there have already been disheartening experiences, for example over implementation of the Law of the Sea. Attitudes towards climate change are changing, even in the United States, but few could confidently predict progress in the near future.

Another little problem has to be remembered. We will certainly need better understanding of the environmental consequences of military action on a national as well as a global scale. Should military authorities be subject to scrutiny for what they now do, usually with scant regard for the environment, allegedly in each country's national interests? Wars and conflicts have enormous implications for the environment as recent history of the world demonstrates. As was said in the classical language, 'quis custodiet ipsos custodes?' – who looks after those who are doing the looking after?

Major change usually requires three factors: one factor is leadership from above, in which one political leader or someone else takes the initiative and is able to persuade others of the need for action and here I do recall Margaret Thatcher with her speeches on climate change in the 1980s.

The second factor is pressure from below in the form of non-governmental and community organisations of all kinds. It is quite interesting to see that happening to some degree at the moment and with the non-governmental organisations and with Members of Parliament who are currently examining a Climate Change Bill and so on.

And the third factor is what I call benign catastrophe where cause and effect can be clearly identified and the appropriate lessons learned. There was an occasion when I was in China in 1998 when on behalf of the foreigners in the body I belonged to, I expressed condolences to the Chinese Government on the loss of life in the Yangtze floods of that year and I was interrupted by the Prime Minister of China, Zhu Rongji at the time, and he said more or less: 'Look, thanks for your condolences, but we Chinese were substantially to blame for what happened – we had cut down the trees, we had diverted the rivers, we had filled in the lakes and we had destroyed the top soils, so when the floods came as they always come, then there was a disaster.' It was quite interesting incidentally in that regard to note that there was always scepticism in China about the Three Gorges Project and the Three Gorges Dam, but that is now coming out into the open for the first time. Most important, of course, is to go for the true and underlying causes of conflict, understand what is at stake for all concerned and try to diminish and adapt to the consequences, but I do not have to remind you that old Adam and old Eve are still with us: competitive, docile, peaceful, violent, creative, wasteful, various and restless, now as in the future.

Managing China’s Rise

Transcript of Sir Christopher Hum’s remarks 17th July 2007 to the Global Security Forum

Sir Christopher Hum KCMG joined HM Diplomatic Service in 1967. Some 18 years of his diplomatic career were spent working in or on China, culminating in almost four years as British Ambassador in Beijing (2002-2005). In January 2006, on retirement from the Diplomatic Service, Christopher Hum was elected Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. I have chosen the topic of ‘Managing China’s Rise’. I do not think that there is anyone here who would disagree with the proposition that this is really one of the crucial events of the 21stcentury, amounting to no less than a tectonic shift in global relationships, both political and economic. It is a shift which affects all of us, whether as citizens or as consumers or as custodians of the planet. What I plan to do is three things: firstly, to remind you of what seem to me to be some of the key features of China’s rise, to look at the prospects of its continuation; and the possible threats to its continuation. Secondly, I will say something about how China itself seeks to present its rise to the rest of the world and then finally, I will have a few thoughts about how this rise might be managed by the rest of us.So first: the key features of China’s rise. Politically, let me just remind you where we are and where China is. Over the past five years, we have seen in China a peaceful succession and the steady consolidation of the new leadership generation, in itself a first in China’s long history. Economic reform and opening has, broadly speaking, continued on a steady path. China’s new leaders are very effective technocrats – they are essentially managers, they are pragmatic, and they are rather deliberately uncharismatic compared with some of their predecessors. Ideology is dead – what sustains and validates the Chinese leadership politically is, instead, the delivery of a number of economic goods: high rates of economic growth, rising living standards and the jobs that are needed to employ the people coming into China’s cities. But of course the Party apparatus, the Party framework, the Party mechanisms of propaganda and control remain – they are very convenient as a way of maintaining control and, where it matters, that control remains very tight. And so the leadership which the Party exercises over the executive, over the legislature, over the judiciary and the work of the courts, over law and order, remains very much in place, and unchanged. The media and the internet are subject to tight control. Freedom of speech and freedom of association remain severely curtailed. People no longer live in fear as they might once have done during the Cultural Revolution, but they still need to watch their step. There is no movement towards what we would regard as significant political reform. On the contrary, in many ways, the trend over the last two or three years has been one of tightening, whether it is over the media, over the internet, over the work of social activists or over the work of local and international NGOs in China. So what are the prospects? The next big event is the Party Congress, due this autumn, to be followed by the session of National People’s Congress, China’s parliamentary organ, in spring next year. And between them, in conjunction, they will put in place a series of changes in the Party and government leadership. Of course the same people occupy concurrent positions and the two meetings will set the policy course for the next five years. I think all the signs are that this will be a smoothly-managed event. The top leaders are expected to stay put and both of them, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, have another five year term which they can serve in their present jobs. All the signs are that they have consolidated their position – they will not face any significant challenge. There has been a certain amount of manoeuvring, as a result of which certain potential challenges have been suppressed, in particular, some representatives of what some observers call the ‘Shanghai faction’ associated with the former President Jiang Zemin, have lost their position. This was presented as action against corruption, but I think the political intent of these changes is also quite clear. We can also see the next generation being brought along and put in place. So some individuals associated with President Hu Jintao have been promoted, though the promotions have also been balanced by the advancement of representatives of the other factions who need to be maintained within an updated leadership. The new figures are not exactly clones of their elders: they are, of course, younger and I think they come from a wider range of backgrounds and they have a wider range of educational experience. Some of them have greater international exposure and perhaps they have potentially a greater flexibility of approach as well. What are the political and social challenges which they will face? I think the overwhelming challenge in the short term is dealing with inequalities and the social consequences of those inequalities. China is now a profoundly unequal society, more so, for example, than the United States, and the effects of that are compounded by the impact of corruption and of maladministration, in some cases tending to fall disproportionately on the poorer parts of society. And so there is a phenomenon of social unrest, but it needs to be kept in proportion. This unrest is certainly there, but it is scattered, it is localised and it tends to be a reaction to local issues, rather than any more orchestrated political challenge. Over the long term, the challenge must be the whole issue of governance and we cannot escape the tension between the political stasis which is in place at the moment and the rapid development and diversification of the economy and of social organisation in China. At present the desire of the Party to control everything does lead to some human rights abuses. I think it does have a rather unhealthy effect on the development of Chinese society and the Chinese economy. It perpetuates certainly economic inefficiencies in the absence of any effective checks and balances within the system. So there are certain stresses and strains which are set up, which are very profound. But my belief is that these prescriptions for collapse or explosion are highly exaggerated. I think the Chinese body politic has an ability to absorb stress, to evolve in ways that limit stress and my belief is that that will happen over again. In the economy, China’s record of sustained growth is known to us all. It is an unprecedented achievement. It has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty. It has given the majority of the Chinese population greatly improved lives. The key question there is whether this can continue and again, there are a number of risks which have been identified, which I will discuss. Firstly, there is simply the rate and the composition of growth – can the system withstand such very high rates of growth? Are there ways of shifting the composition of growth away from investment which is the predominant factor at the moment and towards consumption? There are certain bubbles that appear in the economy – can those be made to subside? Second, there are certain systemic weaknesses in the economy: the immaturity of the banking sector, of the capital and equity markets and the inefficient allocation of capital. Third, there are what you could call the exogenous constraints – shortages of water, pinches in energy supply, the need to import increasing amounts of raw materials; and the horrific impact of unbridled growth on the environment. What I think we can say is that these various problems are identified, they are discussed and up to a point, measures have been conceived to address them and I would suggest that, in most cases, the movement is absolutely in the right direction. The new five year programme – it is no longer a plan but a programme – aims to reduce inequalities. It is aiming for quality of growth rather than the headline figure. It has a target which has not been met yet, but a target to improve energy efficiency as well. A huge amount of action has been taken to strengthen financial systems and if you look at the state of the banks, the state of the equity markets and so on, you can see very clear improvement. There is a lot of movement in the right direction, but still the challenges remain pretty big. But I would say that, for all those challenges, there is not one which seems likely in the short term or the medium term to knock China seriously off course and I think it is the consensus of most economic observers that continued high rates of growth are possible and should be attainable over the years ahead. In China’s external relations, China is engaging as it never has before. It is conscious of its growing weight, and it is using that weight very actively, both in international organisations and in its bilateral diplomacy, so it is increasingly proactive in the UN and in the WTO; it is doing a lot of broadly helpful things against terrorism and against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. China is seeking quite justifiably to play a greater role in global economic management, for example, in its relations with the G8. Over the past year there have been some successes and perhaps some setbacks. China has worked well to take some poison out of its relations with Japan. Its patience in chairing and orchestrating the discussions on North Korea has (so far) paid off at last. There has been a slightly more controversial expansion of China’s influence in Africa and Latin America and I will say a little more about that in a moment. So how does China present its rise? This is something which I think has been thought about a lot in the Chinese government and in the very influential think tanks which serve it: how to handle and present the rise of China? There is a recognition that this is bound to be seen as a potential threat, especially in China’s immediate region. So out of these concerns has come the thesis of ‘peaceful rise’ or ‘peaceful development’, which is, in essence, that China’s domestic economic development is an overwhelming priority, that to achieve that, China needs international co-operation and it needs to co-operate in a peaceful international environment, which of course is largely unexceptionable and a lot of China’s international behaviour is consistent with those principles. So we have seen China working very hard and very skilfully to present itself as a good neighbour in its immediate region. It has resolved all outstanding border issues, except with India and there is progress there too. China has sought to stimulate regional free trade and it has made a lot of the fact that all its neighbours are actually in trade surplus with China. What is I think more open to question is the sort of issue where China’s pursuit of national interests sometimes cuts against some of the objectives of the broader international community. Some of these come from China’s very acute feeling of vulnerability as an importer of energy, of raw materials and of foodstuffs and over the last few years we have seen China engaged in a very, very determined drive to secure sources of supply. And I think in that context, the concept that has been raised of China as a responsible stakeholder is one which gives China some difficulty. Firstly, what does it mean? How do you translate it into Chinese? And there are cases, of which I think we are all aware, where China’s actions have threatened to undercut what the international community has been trying to do – think of Burma, think of Sudan, think of Zimbabwe. Perhaps China’s policy towards Africa is the most topical issue. Africa is now an important source for China of oil, of minerals and a growing market for China’s consumer exports. And the Chinese government has a really unparalleled ability to focus resources – it is something it has been doing for several thousand years. In this particular case, it involves governments and companies, state and private, and the development banks working together very effectively to move into the African market. There has also been a very marked increase in China’s development assistance to Africa, but there is a difference in that this assistance comes without any conditions of good governance or of economic probity attached; and that tends to undercut the influence of the other more long-standing donors, whether international organisations or national governments. But that too has not made China immune to growing signs that its behaviour is being questioned in certain African countries – the word ‘colonialist’ is for the first time beginning to be attached to some of the things that China is doing in those countries too. I think we can also note too the concerns that have been voiced recently by Japan, by Australia, as well as by the US about the growth and the lack of transparency in China’s military expenditure. Military modernisation is directed very clearly towards Taiwan as an objective and in a broader sense towards the projection of China’s influence in the region. So how can this rise, presented in this way, be managed? I think we need to be clear that China’s emergence on the world scene is for good. It will not be reversed. Economic growth, as I have suggested, will continue at a high rate. China’s impact on the world’s economy, on world trade, on the global environment, can only grow. And all of this will give Chinese diplomacy still more weight and China has an extremely effective diplomacy. Now, for some, this all adds up to a clear threat. There are those, for example on the US right wing, who would describe China’s influence as fundamentally malign: militaristic, expansionist, challenging the United States in its back yard. I do not think that that thesis can be sustained, though there is a larger constituency in America, in Europe, in neighbouring countries, which tends instead to focus on the economic threat and this is objectively a fact - the economic threat to local manufacturing and local employment. I would see China’s approach as being one with a very strong element of ambivalence about this – there is a resonance to co-operate, but it is allied with a fair enough determination to assert the national interest. I think there is a strong incentive to Western countries to work with the grain of that, to emphasise the positive aspects of that, by seeking to bring China into a constructive and a mutually-beneficial relationship. First of all, I think that means that we need to make room for China: that means drawing China into dialogue, as between equal partners, on international issues; it means associating China more fully with global economic management (that is already happening); it means giving China market economy status within the World Trade Organisation – an important symbolic matter for China; it means giving China as close a relationship with the G8 as it feels comfortable with, and that for the time being is not full membership of a G9, but recognition as an important partner, (and that is the situation where China is now one of the duly denominated outreach countries). It also means pursuing with China a discussion of the entire new transnational agenda – issues like energy, the environment, climate change, overseas investment, in a way which respects Chinese interests. China feels with some justification, I believe, that there are those who are seeking to stifle its development or to thwart the legitimate interests that its companies have, for example, in investment in the United States. And of course, there are many concerns which the West and China absolutely share on that list of issues, for example, in making available to China the newest technology to increase energy efficiency and reduce pollution. The aim has to be to strengthen the community of interests between China and the rest of the international community. That involves encouragement as well as exhortation and an acknowledgement of the legitimate interests that China has. Second, I think we still need to develop our collective understanding of China. First, at the intergovernmental level: this is not about strategies of encirclement – it is nothing like as sinister as that, but it does involve trying to establish some shared appreciation of where China is and some coherence of approach towards China. In the past there have been divergences of analysis and approach between the EU and the United States, for example, over the EU arms embargo. There have been divergences within the EU itself, often driven by pretty mercantilist motivations. But the worst offenders there both in Paris and Berlin are now off the scene and I think there is now a greater coherence than there has been in the past. I think there is a very important role for the European Union, which China finds a rather baffling organisation, but sort of senses that it has the potential to be an important interlocutor to the point of counterbalancing US hegemony. And over the past couple of years there has been encouraging progress in strengthening a collective analysis of China, as between the EU and Japan and the United States. Thirdly, I think there needs to be more exchange among the national China communities in government and business and academia. In the past we have been not very good in this country about pooling our efforts compared, for example, with the situation in the United States where interchange and exchanges of view between academia and government and business seem to me far more efficient. But here too I think there have been signs of progress over the last couple of years. There has been an impetus from Parliament itself, from the China Friendship Group. There has been impetus from No. 11 Downing Street in the past when it was occupied by the present Prime Minister. There has been a revival of work at Chatham House. The University of Westminster plays a very important role in London and the University of Nottingham has set up new programmes. Fourthly, I think there is still a lot more to do inside our universities and in our schools. Do our universities give the attention to modern China which is commensurate to its importance to us, not just its language and its history, but to its politics, economy, business, law, environmental policies and energy policies? Not yet, I think is the answer, but there are some promising developments. Do our schools yet reflect China’s importance adequately in their syllabuses? There again, I think the answer is not yet, despite some advances and some very recent new initiatives to implant the learning of Chinese more firmly in schools. But in general there are far fewer students at the school level who have anything like the comprehension of China and its coming impact on the world that they should have. My conclusion then is that China’s rise can be managed. I think the challenges it presents are real, and are difficult and are inescapable. Dealing with some of those challenges, especially on the economic and trade side and manufacturing, is going to be very painful for the West. But China’s growing engagement with the international community also offers a means of dealing co-operatively with those challenges and in many areas as I have tried to show, China is working with the grain of the international community, even while vigorously forwarding its own interests. So I see no alternative to greater engagement with China, based on greater understanding of China - drawing China in on the basis of shared interests and equitable treatment. I believe that an approach by western countries, which is sympathetic but also coherent, firm and informed, offers good chances of influencing China’s rise positively and making it a force for good.

By Tony Purton

In view of the highly political nature of UK defence procurement and the need perceived by all parties in the House to foster an effective and sustainable UK defence industry, it is time to consider a return to the non-competitive 'cost-plus' procurement regime abandoned by MoD in 1985 in favour of competition and the commercial approach.


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