Challenges and Opportunities in the Central Kingdom.
Culture Matters – a statement that is clearly justified when it comes to China. Chinese culture often appears like an entirely different world for western observers – a world that might seem utterly confusing and sometimes even incomprehensible.
Despite its tremendous and still-growing importance in world economy and politics, people still know very little about China. However, ignorance is not an option anymore. While its economic rise during the past decades has been awe-inspiring and is – despite accumulating signs of deceleration – far from finished, the country is also expanding its influence in other realms such as geopolitics and science. These developments should make it a necessity for western politicians, businessmen and scientists to learn more about Chinese culture and society in order to understand this diverse and complex country and its people.
Even though great challenges are looming at the horizon, China is increasingly seen as an authoritarian success model in the 21st century’s globalised economy. And the new administration of the Chinese state and its ruling party has so far not shown any signs to introduce radical political reforms. When it comes to the further development of its economy, however, China appears to be much more open for approaches depending on market forces and liberal ideas. Thus, under the direct guidance of president Xi Jinping, the communist party is steering towards wide-ranging economic changes that will also have an impact on a global scale.
How do and should western states react to this development? What opportunities can international companies expect from a potential economic liberalisation in China? And what cultural differences between China and the western world might explain why China has taken such a different, yet successful route to economic success and political power than many other (democratic) states?
In this event, we try to tackle these questions from a Swiss perspective: On one hand, Switzerland’s direct democratic institutions together with its liberal political order present a stark contrast to China’s authoritarian rule. On the other hand, Swiss companies have a comparatively longstanding business tradition in China and the recently signed free-trade agreement between Switzerland and China will further strengthen the economic ties between the two countries. But what can we expect from a closer collaboration with the second-biggest economy in the world? How do we cope with the extreme political differences between the two countries? And how do we prevent cultural misunderstandings when trying to establish closer ties with China and its people?
Together with Dr. Christian Etter, Federal Council Delegate for Trade Agreements and chief negotiator of the Swiss-Chinese free trade agreement, and Christopher Snook, Head Group Country Management of Novartis International and former head of Roche’s OTC division in China, we want to answer these and other questions. Both guests will be able to offer new insights into the economic, political and cultural realities in China and participants will have the chance to engage in discussions with the two guests both during the event as well as in the course of the subsequent dinner.
Event date and time: Thursday, 8th of May 2014, 17.00–19.00
Speakers: Dr. Christian Etter, Federal Council Delegate for Trade Agreements and chief negotiator of the Swiss-Chinese free trade agreement
Christopher Snook, Head Group Country Management of Novartis International and former head of Roche’s OTC division in China
Preparatory Reading: Schell, Orville and Delury, John: Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-First Century (2013). Random House. New York. (pp. 11-36; 259-385)
Further reading according to the speakers‘ suggestion
Application deadline: Monday, April 7th 2014
Place: University of Basel