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Dialogue with China: towards ‘harmonious society' governance, participation and social cohesion [WP1055]


This conference took place in the run-up to the imminent China visit by the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron and launched a series of multi-faceted Wilton Park dialogues to take place in China and the UK.

The programmes are led by our Chief Executive, Richard Burge, and will examine the ways of working with China as a key player in global political, economic and commercial spheres. Adela Gooch led the discussions as Conference Chairperson. Other partner participation and support came from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Chatham House, Rio Tinto, ResPublica and the Ford Foundation.

The launch meeting examined the Chinese concept of ‘harmonious society’ in the context of China’s booming economic shift and concomitant social and political change.

Speakers included Professor Shi Weimin from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Professor FuJun from the School of Government at Peking University and Professor Wang Changjiang from the Central Pary School of the Communist Party.

They were joined by Stephen King, Chief Economist at HSBC and Christine Shields, Head of Country Risk Research at Standard Bank.

Participants also heard a presentation from Philip Blond, Director of ResPublica think tank on the UK debate related to the ‘big society’ exploring synergies with Chinese options to solve social and economic concerns.

Key points discussed:

  • Can shock waves generated by the credit crunch be turned to positive effect in restructuring economies and employment to achieve societies that are both productive and harmonious?
  • What are the implications for business and financial sectors?
  • What are the appropriate governance and civil society mechanisms to ensure sustainable development?
  • How to balance respect for the environment, and its limited resources, with pressure for continuous economic growth?
  • How to build social cohesion while respecting the rights of the individual?
  • What are the implications of the call by President Hu Jintao to speed up the restructuring of the pattern of China’s economic growth and the debate over ending the dual resident registration system which differentiates between urban and rural China?

Summary of working group discussion and suggested action points: extending public participation in decision making


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