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Tuesday 1 December 2020

It’s Time for the West to Get Tough with China

Foreign
Policy

It seems like everyone has a reason to be angry with China. Human rights organisations campaign against its suppression of democracy in Hong Kong and its treatment of Uighur Muslims in ‘re-education’ camps. Corporate America has battled for years against intellectual property theft from Chinese businesses. Green activists protest its environmental record, while the arrival of 5G has created another point of friction as the UK and the US battle to limit Huawei’s influence. So what is the best way to handle this superpower?

Some say it is essential to get tough. If we are to maintain a liberal democratic world order, then countries that threaten this must be prepared to pay the price. China’s aggressive diplomacy must be faced head on and all Western democracies should unite in this battle. With their refusal to recognise Taiwan as an independent nation, and the oppressive tactics wielded by protestors in Hong Kong campaigning against the Chinese police state, it is clear that Beijing is trying to impose its system and standards on other countries, and it is the responsibility of other countries to get tough with rogue nations. 

That is the argument of the hawks. But not everyone agrees. Proponents of a more hands-off approach say that those who want to get ‘tough on China’ are coming from a very Western-centric viewpoint. A letter condemning China’s handling of Hong Kong this year did not have a single signatory from an African or Middle Eastern leader. Moreover, there is a fear that the Chinese government will use criticisms from Western countries as an excuse to be even more hardline and punish advocates of free speech for appearing to sympathise with America and the West. It would be better to allow the Chinese people to find their own route towards a better society. Lastly, China has a long history of authoritarian governments that stretches back before the Communist Party – it is not about to become a parliamentary democracy any time soon. Instead of trying to get tough with it, risking a second Cold War, we should co-opt China into the world order in order to make it a party in peace and stability by engaging with the country from a position of good faith. 

Join us on December 1 as Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat argues that we need to prevent a Beijing-dominated world, while Singaporean author Kishore Mahbubani contends that the West should accept that it’s only a matter of time before China usurps the US as the world’s most influential superpower.

Book Bundles (UK ONLY)

Book bundles include one ticket for the online debate, plus a copy of Kishore Mahbubani’s book Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy with free UK P&P. Books will be posted within 1-2 weeks of the event finishing. Click here to purchase a book bundle.

Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy by Kishore Mahbubani is available to buy from Primrose Hill Books, for £20 including free UK P&P. Intelligence Squared+ subscribers pay £18 for this book, and receive further discounts on other books. Click here for more information and to subscribe. 

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Event Name

It’s Time for the West to Get Tough with China


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Speakers for the motion
  • Tom Tugendhat

    Conservative MP and Chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee

Against the motion
  • Kishore Mahbubani

    Singaporean civil servant, diplomat and academic

Chair
  • Manveen Rana

    Senior investigative journalist and host of The Times and Sunday Times flagship podcast Stories of Our Times

 

Speakers subject to change.


Location
  • Online event
Time
  • Tuesday 1 December 2020
  • 6:15pm to 7pm GMT



Speakers

For the motion

Tom Tugendhat

Conservative MP and Chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee


Conservative MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling and Chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He also leads the China Research Group (CRG) of Conservative MPs to promote fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to China’s rise. Before becoming an MP, Tom was in the British Army and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Against the motion

Kishore Mahbubani

Singaporean civil servant, diplomat and academic


Singaporean civil servant, diplomat and academic. During his stint at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1971 to 2004, he served as Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and held the position of President of the United Nations Security Council between January 2001 and May 2002. Between 2004 and 2017, he served as Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in October 2019. He has written eight books about the rise of Asia, geopolitics and global governance. His latest book is Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy.
Chair

Manveen Rana

Senior investigative journalist and host of The Times and Sunday Times flagship podcast Stories of Our Times


Senior investigative journalist and host of The Times and Sunday Times flagship podcast Stories of Our Times. She was previously a broadcaster and reporter for BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme and The World at One.

 

Speakers subject to change.