Peo­ple can feel it and see it in not just the econ­omy but also in China’s sta­tus in the world.”

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 8 Life - Dic­tio­nary of Chi­nese Bi­og­ra­phy, China’s World: What Does China Want? for War, Des­tined The World Ac­cord­ing to Xi: Ev­ery­thing You Need to Know About the New China China’s Dream­ing, Con­tact the writer at an­drew­moody@chi­

di­rec­tor of Lau In­sti­tute at King’s Col­lege Lon­don

“They are the only two truly global coun­tries be­cause their do­mes­tic poli­cies pro­vide a kind of map to the rest of the world. Most other coun­tries are a bit more mar­ginal.”

Brown, who is also chief edi­tor of the

pub­lished by Berk­shire Pub­lish­ing in the United States, had an un­con­ven­tional route into academia and be­com­ing an au­thor­ity on China.

He stud­ied English lit­er­a­ture at Cam­bridge Univer­sity and only made his first visit to China in 1991 while he was work­ing as a se­condary school teacher in Japan.

This sparked an in­ter­est in the coun­try and Brown re­turned to the UK to do a one-year post­grad­u­ate diploma in Man­darin at Thames Val­ley Univer­sity in Lon­don.

Af­ter that, he lec­tured in English for two years in the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion and be­came a busi­ness man­ager for a UK com­pany trad­ing in China.

This trans­lated into a diplo­matic ca­reer when he be­came head of the China sec­tion at the UK For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice in Lon­don be­fore be­ing sent out to be first sec­re­tary at the Bri­tish em­bassy in Bei­jing in 2000.

Af­ter re­turn­ing to Lon­don, he be­came head of the Asia pro­gram at Chatham House, Europe’s largest for­eign pol­icy think tank, in 2005, where he ce­mented a rep­u­ta­tion as a lead­ing thinker on this part of the world.

Fol­low­ing his suc­cess there he was re­cruited to be­come di­rec­tor of the China Stud­ies Cen­tre at Syd­ney Univer­sity, which has a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for re­search on China.

In late 2015, Brown re­turned to the UK to work as the di­rec­tor of the Lau In­sti­tute at King’s Col­lege Lon­don.

“Lon­don is a ma­jor fi­nan­cial cen­ter and also the cen­ter of the UK gov­ern­ment, so we are par­tic­u­larly fo­cused on pol­icy. Our re­search is in such ar­eas as the en­vi­ron­ment, gov­er­nance in China, the po­lit­i­cal econ­omy and in­vest­ment,” he says.


Brown puts China’s re­la­tion­ship with the rest of the world into zones. Zone one is with the United States, which he de­scribes as the “ul­ti­mate love-hate re­la­tion­ship”. Zone two is with the rest of Asia, zone three the Euro­pean Union and zone four the rest of the world, in­clud­ing Africa and the Mid­dle East.

“China is a newly emerg­ing coun­try that is look­ing for a role in the world and th­ese are the sort of zones it is op­er­at­ing in.”

A re­cent book by the US po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Gra­ham Al­li­son,

ar­gued that the US-China re­la­tion­ship was caught in the Thucy­dides Trap, the clas­sic point where one power is about to chal­lenge and take over from another. The last time this led to con­flict was a cen­tury ago when im­pe­rial Ger­many chal­lenged the Bri­tish, re­sult­ing in World War I.

“The Chi­nese have looked at all th­ese power tran­si­tions. There have been 12 ma­jor global power tran­si­tions in his­tory — five were rel­a­tively peace­ful, but seven were not,” says Brown.

The aca­demic does not be­lieve Thucy­dides prop­erly char­ac­ter­izes the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

“There’s a spec­trum. At one end there is China as a threat, which I think is a car­i­ca­ture of Chi­nese power, and at the other end there is China as a sort of pussy­cat that is go­ing to love ev­ery­one. And then there is space in the mid­dle, which is where the re­al­ity lies.”

Brown says, how­ever, that Xi Jinping has re­shaped Chi­nese for­eign pol­icy over the past five years, with ma­jor ini­tia­tives such as the Belt and Road and high-pro­file in­ter­na­tional en­gage­ment, which has seen him visit more than 50 coun­tries.

“In the 2000s, the Amer­i­cans and oth­ers all said that China should be more of a stake­holder,” he says.

“Since 2012, Xi Jinping has made this spe­cific de­mand that there needs to a proac­tive em­pha­sis on for­eign pol­icy, and that is what has hap­pened. China has been much more vo­cif­er­ous be­cause it feels as the world’s sec­ond-largest econ­omy it should be. You can’t hide an ele­phant. It is just too big.”

Brown says China’s new high pro­file is be­com­ing ev­i­dent around the world.

“In all the 20 coun­tries I vis­ited last year the most com­mon thing that I saw was the Huawei (Chi­nese tele­coms gi­ant) logo. I saw it at Rome air­port go­ing into the city and in Brazil, Canada, Greece and the Philip­pines. It is another way in which China is be­com­ing much more vis­i­ble than ever be­fore,” he says.

Brown is set to pub­lish two fur­ther books this year, and which will look at the cul­ture of the Com­mu­nist Party of China.

Brown be­lieves Xi Jinping Thought on So­cial­ism with Chi­nese Char­ac­ter­is­tics for a New Era, which was en­shrined in the coun­try’s Con­sti­tu­tion at a meet­ing of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress on March 11, is a very real and im­por­tant con­cept.

“It is a vi­sion of his­toric progress. It is not ab­stract, it is not fan­ci­ful, it is real. Peo­ple can feel it and see it in not just the econ­omy but also in China’s sta­tus in the world,” he says.

Kerry Brown,

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