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Minister Chen Wen Delivers a Speech at the University of Oxford
2020/02/28

On February 26, Minister Chen Wen was invited to deliver a keynote speech entitled Comprehensive, Objective and Progressing: The Right Approach to Understanding China at St Anne’s College, the University of Oxford. The lecture, co-hosted by Oxford Philosophy, Politics and Economics Society and Oxford China Forum, was attended by more than 80 students and teachers from Oxford University.

By listing examples, Minister Chen pointed out that there are misunderstandings and biased comments on China by politicians and in media reports in the West. This is not helpful at all to the understanding of China in the West, or to the normal development of the relations between China and Western countries, Chen said.

Minister Chen shared three suggestions on how to understand a real China. The first is to view China’s development from a comprehensive perspective. China has experienced tremendous changes and achieved remarkable success since its founding. However, China has a huge population and weak economic foundation, and there are huge development disparities between different regions, and sustainability remains a bottleneck in its development, Chen said.

The second suggestion is that China’s political system should be seen from an objective perspective. The West needs to understand that the Communist Party of China is the choice of history and the choice of the Chinese people, and China’s socialism system is with Chinese characteristics. The rise and rejuvenation of a major Oriental civilization with a different system from the West should be recognized and welcomed.

The third suggestion is to view China’s development in the context of its history and as continuously progressing. “Historically, China had been one of the most powerful countries in the world for centuries that had never colonized or invaded any other country;” said Chen, adding that “China is pursuing a path of peaceful development.” “At the fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, China set the goal to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and advance the modernisation of China’s system and governance capability. This has provided a timeline and blueprint for our efforts in making China’s system more mature and complete,” Chen noted. Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy proposes to build a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind, brings to an end the old logic that “a strong country is bound to seek hegemony” and “an emerging power and an established power are bound to fall into the Thucydides Trap”, and blazes a new development trail different from that of traditional superpowers.

Towards the end of her speech, Minister Chen updated the audience on China’s efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak and took questions regarding China-UK relationship, multilateralism, climate change, Hong Kong and Tibet. The teachers and students welcomed the lecture as it helped them improve their understanding of China, reinforce independent thinking and develop a comprehensive, objective and progressing view of China.

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