The seminar was organized by 29 students of the Avans School of International Studies and was prepared very well. The room was decorated with Chinese objects and art and in the break there was a real Chinese tea ceremony in the hall.
The students invited three guest speakers with expertise of business in China: Henk Schulte Nordholt, Ruud Stemerding and George Ammerlaan. Henk Schulte Nordholt was the first to speak in the Chinese-decorated room.
Democracy or dictatorship?
Henk Schulte Nordholt starts his lecture called ‘Will China become a world power?’ with different questions about China. He asks the students if China is a democracy or a dictatorship.
Only one student raises his finger for democracy. Henk Schulte Nordholt says that people think different about the term ‘democracy’. ‘For some of the Chinese people the way they now live is democracy.’
Rich and poor
About the question’ Is China rich or poor’ the audience is not unanimous. A part of the students thinks China is rich. ‘The country is richer than the Netherlands, so I guess it’s rich’, says one student.
Schulte Nordholt explains that China is rich and poor at the same time. ‘China is the first and the third world. The gap between the rich and the poor is huge’, argues Schulte Nordholt. He tells that Shanghai is much richer than the rest of the country.
No need for pessimism
Henk Schulte Nordholt asks the students also if they think China, as one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world, is a threat for Europe. The students all think it isn’t a threat, except for one student. He is concerned about the trade.
Schulte Nordholt tells his vision too. He explains that China will be better in technology and the making of products. He thinks Europe has other qualities. ‘Europe should focus on education and know-how. The Dutch have a lot of knowledge. For example about design, water and agriculture.’ The guest speaker also thinks Europe runs in front of China on the territory of freedom.
So Schulte Nordholt thinks Europe should not worry. ‘There is no need for pessimism!’ [JV]