KFCDecember 2014 -

Smog warnings, traffic congestion, inappropriate behaviour, weak social care, bad food standards, rote learning, casual spitting, terrible TV, industrial accidents, establishment corruption, poor quality housing, inadequate public transport. This list goes on.

This was a Britain in the 50s.

It is generally accepted that the West has improved, so can China?

One of the key differences between China and the West is that, at least in China, the contradictions are visible and contested, whereas westerners are becoming oblivious to corrosive social factors in the West. Ironically, even democracy is something that is treated glibly in the West at the very time that it offers a tantalising promise of political engagement in China. All too often, we point the finger at Chinese abuses of free speech merely to detract from its increasing erosion in the West.

After all, China is a country riddled with contradictions. It is a place of dynamism and restraint, of exciting urbanism but terrible urban design; of space stations and rickshaws; a future that is caught in its past. It is a centralised economy that has become a global powerhouse: a modern society… but with 50 percent of the population living in rural areas.

So is this China’s century, or is China still living in the last century?

A panel of experts will give their views on a range of newsworthy topics, including:

  • The role of China on the world stage
  • The direction of Chinese urbanization
  • Pollution
  • Economic growth

David Goodman, professor China Studies; author, “Class in Contemporary China
Han Jiawen, researcher, “Imagining Modernity: Architecture in Contemporary China
Paul Tang, co-founder, LA/Shanghai-based architectural firm, Verse [建言建筑]
James T. Areddy, China correspondent, The Wall Street Journal
Chair: Austin Williams, China correspondent, The Architectural Review








This opening debate provided an general view on a range of themes, including:

  • The direction and impact of China’s urbanization
  • Does China have world-class education?
  • Environment and Pollution (… the proposed smoking ban?)


Joe Zhang, “The Disintegration of Rural China”, Nov 28, New York Times, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/29/opinion/the-disintegration-of-rural-china.html?smid=tw-share

Xinhua, “Chinese Premier stresses human-centered urbanization”, Global Times, 2014-11-28. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/894168.shtml

Adam Tyner, “Can China’s New Urbanization Plan Work?” The Diplomat, April 17, 2014. http://thediplomat.com/2014/04/can-chinas-new-urbanization-plan-work/


Valerie Strauss, “No 1 Shanghai may drop out of PISA”, The Washington Post, May 26 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/26/no-1-shanghai-may-drop-out-of-pisa/

Johan Nylander, “The rise of alternative education in China”,  CNN, March 26, 2014.  http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/26/world/asia/china-alternative-education

Lawrence Wakefield,  “Chinese universities dominate Brics nations league table 2014″, The Guardian, 18 June 2014.education-network/blog/2014/jun/18/chinese-universities-dominate-brics-nations-league-table-2014


BBC Monitoring, “China media: Pollution woes”, BBC, 28 November 2014

Bruce Einhorn, “Now Starring in China’s Anti-Smoking Ads: Bill Gates”, BloombergBusiness Week, November 28, 2014.http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-11-28/now-starring-in-chinas-anti-smoking-ads-bill-gates

Special Report: China, “Let us breathe: Pollution in cities is becoming a political issue”, The Economist, Apr 19th 2014.http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21600799-pollution-cities-becoming-political-issue-let-us-breathe


Jake Spring, “World Bank urges China to cut economic growth target to seven percent in 2015, focus on reforms”, Reuters, 29 Oct 2014 http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/29/us-china-worldbank-idUSKBN0II05P20141029

Economist, “Li who will not be obeyed: The Shanghai Free Trade Zone’s frustrating first year”, The Economist, Oct 11th 2014 http://www.economist.com/news/china/21623776-shanghai-free-trade-zones-frustrating-first-year-li-who-will-not-be-obeyed

Kelly Olsen , “China wins APEC support for free trade ‘roadmap'”, AFP, November 11, 2014 http://news.yahoo.com/apec-leaders-seek-free-trade-progress-annual-summit-222032285.html