population. The economy is projected to be twice the US economy by 2030. This kind of economic leverage and presence in the world will be enormous.
Culturally, if you go back to the tributary system, at the heart of Chinese influence was the sense of Chinese civilisation, and the respect it expected of the tribute states. There was recognition of ‘superior’ Chinese culture because it was a very advanced culture relative to those around it. Now, at the moment, it’s difficult for us to think in these terms because China has been very poor. And therefore, no one has known much about it until the last ten years.
Chinese culture also does not appear to be a particularly modern phenomenon. When you talk about Chinese culture, people often think of traditional culture. Traditional culture is dying out. So what has to happen is that there will be a new modernised Chinese culture that will emerge – a product of the internet era and a reworking of traditional values. It will still draw heavily from the past such as Chinese notions of the family, of the state, language and literature. But this will take time.
6.You mentioned that there is a great misunderstanding in the West with regards to China. Why is this so?
For 200 years, the world had been exposed to the West. The world is extremely familiar with the West. The Chinese are very familiar with the West. They know a lot about it – many can speak Englishand they all know key Western historical dates.
However, the rest of the world is still very ignorant of China. When I was at school, I never learned anything about China. China was not in my curriculum in any shape or form. We did nothing on China. Zheng He’s great voyages were completely unknown. That can\'t be changed overnight. Because of Western global hegemony, it’s a global problem. So there’s a huge knowledge deficit that must be overcome. China is a treasure trove that is still locked away.
But we can see in the last 10-15 years what extraordinary progress has been made. People are now beginning to learn Chinese. People are now very interested in China.
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