How China manages its messages for a global audience is critical as the world struggles with decoupling, or duality, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a London-based China specialist.
Kerry Brown, professor and director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, said China’s economic success should not be seen as a victory of socialism over the capitalist model since there was no competition between different models of growth.
Brown called on countries to focus on areas for cooperation, such as promoting economic growth, because most countries around the world were struggling to stay out of recession.
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“It’s a common responsibility for all of us … not to rely on one economic model or success of one or the other. I would not like to see a situation where this is a zero-sum game again,” Brown told a webinar organised by the Beijing-based think tank the Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG) on Wednesday.
Economists have argued that the global economy faces strong headwinds as the coronavirus pandemic exerts huge pressure around the world.
China was expected to be the only major economy registering positive growth this year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in September. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted in the World Economic Outlook released in October that China’s GDP would expand 1.9 per cent in 2020 and it would accelerate to 8.2 per cent next year.
“What is looking most likely is that Europe will be suffering, America will be suffering maybe more modestly but China will prevail,” Brown said.
And that would raise questions of what image China should project and how other countries should work with China even though they did not share the same values, he said.
Brown argued that China was not the same country it was in 1978 when paramount leader Deng Xiaoping launched economic reform and opening up and at that time needed to reform its governance system in its quest for success.
“In 2021, we will face the extraordinary outcome of a world in which the greatest practitioner of capitalism and the most successful is a communist-led country,” he said, referring to China.
But he added that China’s greatest problem now was its own success.
“Every day in which it’s been more successful than America and Europe is a day of peril.”
But Brown added that the American ideal that the US would vanquish the Chinese regime was just a fantasy.
“We have to count as a world in which decoupling, or at least duality, is a fundamental part of the daily structure,” he said.
He said countries would need to pragmatically work around their differences.
One of Beijing’s challenges would be to consider what image it would project around the world.
“Politicians may have made up their mind about China but I think global audiences in Europe, America and Australia are still not really decided, and the tone of Chinese diplomacy is critical,” he said.
“China’s messages need to be very carefully tailored to speak to the audience and say … we are one humanity, we can work together.”
This article Coronavirus: China must win over global partners for post-pandemic economic recovery: analyst first appeared on South China Morning Post