January 30, 2013 7:30 PM
In Search of China’s Soul: Money, Politics, and the Pressure for Social Change
This year’s Ignatius program explored the dramatic shifts under way in China. After two decades of fast economic growth, China faces a challenging transition. An untested team of leaders has taken the reins, after months of in-fighting and scandal. The economy has hit a bump, and corruption is rampant. Netizens demand change, but human rights activists are routinely jailed.
Is China on the path to democracy? Or will the new leadership continue to take a hard line? Where is the country’s moral center, and who speaks on its behalf?
The answers are critical for the world, especially the U.S., whose economy is inextricably linked with China’s.
The program is delighted to have featured as its keynote speaker Chen Guangcheng, the blind lawyer/activist who dramatically escaped house arrest in northeast China and took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing before winning asylum in the U.S. Chen will speak about the efforts of activists like himself to bring change to China, and about what America can do to help.
Following Chen’s talk, a panel of top China experts discussed the issues that he raises and explore crucial questions: Where is China headed? Is it America’s friend or foe?
Moderating the panel was James Fallows, national correspondent at The Atlantic. Fallows lived in China for several years and is the author of several books, including two about China: Postcards from Tomorrow Square (2009) and China Airborne.
The other panelists were:
- Jerome Cohen, a law professor at NYU and one of America’s foremost experts on China and Chinese law.
- Cheng Li, director of research and a senior fellow at the Brookings John L. Thornton China Center.
- Dorinda Elliott, Global Affairs Editor of Conde Nast Traveler and editor at large at ChinaFile, the Asia Society’s new China website.