Westlessness and China After the G7
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Westlessness and China After the G7
13th July 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
There has been growing concern about an increasingly assertive China’s ability to reshape the existing international order – which has been compounded by worries that a disunited liberal democratic world lacks the will to push back.
The notion of ‘Westlessness’ was formally aired at the 2020 Munich Security Council, drawing to attention the idea that the West was so divided, and inward looking, that it risked losing its position at the centre of the global stage. Throughout this period the notion that the West – Europe in particular – was being too slow to recognise and adapt to Beijing’s rise also gained traction.
A year on, at last month’s G7 summit in Cornwall, China emerged as one of the significant points of discussion. Leaders sent a clear message that member states would stand together on issues such as human rights and revisionism in the Indo-pacific. Their unity also appeared to indicate a return to multilateralism, and a more coordinated response to the emerging geopolitical tensions. In this sense it was a victory for President Biden who has been seeking to unite allies behind his more confrontational approach to China’s growing influence.
Yet, underneath the surface there are still signs of disunity among the G7 nations as to whether China should be treated as a partner, competitor, or security threat. In fact, on this question there may not even be consensus within individual capitals themselves. Furthermore, agreeing to words and a shared set of values is one thing, taking collective action is another. How is the liberal democratic world faring when it comes to supplying COVID-19 vaccines, compared with China? And what hope is there for Biden’s rival to the Belt and Road Initiative, Build Back Better World (B3W)? The Henry Jackson Society invites you to better understand these timely and important issues.
Gideon Rachman is the Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator for the Financial Times. He joined the FT after a 15-year career at The Economist, which included spells as a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Washington and Bangkok. He also edited The Economist’s business and Asia sections. His particular interests include American foreign policy, the European Union and globalisation. In 2016 he published ‘Easternisation – War and Peace in the Asian Century’.
Cindy Yu is a China reporter and Broadcast Editor at the Spectator. She read Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at the University of Oxford, where she also read for a Masters in Contemporary Chinese Studies. Recently she has written about China’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its vaccine diplomacy. She also hosts the Chinese Whispers podcast.
Dr Tim Rühlig is a Research Fellow at The Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm researching Europe-China relations, Chinese foreign and industrial policy, including high technology and Hong Kong politics. Since 2019, he has been a member of the Management Committee and the Core Group of the Europe in China Research Network and Chairs the network’s working group for high technology and innovation.
Gray Sergeant is a Research Fellow in the Asia Studies Centre. He studied International Relations and History at the London School of Economics and went on to complete a Master’s in Chinese Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Most recently, he completed a one year Mandarin language programme at National Taiwan University. Prior to joining HJS, Gray held various positions including campaign roles for the Labour Party in, as well as working in the UK Parliament. In addition, he spent several years in human right advocacy, with a specific focus on Tibet. In 2017 he co-founded Hong Kong Watch, which monitors freedoms and the rule of law in Hong Kong, and is currently the organisation’s Chair.
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