On Friday 11 May 2018, the University of Johannesburg Confucius Institute (UJCI) in collaboration with the UJ Library, convened a seminar on the topic of 'Re-Globalisation' with contributions centred around the rise of China and its implications for the global balance of power, especially vis-à-vis the United States.
From Left to Right: Dr David Monyae, Co-Director of the UJ Confucius Institute; Professor Wang Dong, Associate Professor in the School of International Studies, and Executive Deputy Director of the Institute for China-US People to People Exchange at Peking University; Professor Jing Su, Director for Internationalization, Nanjing Tech University, Professor Henry Sun, International Director of the Business Research Institute and Professor at the Business School, University of Chester, United Kingdom; President Qiao Xu, President of Nanjing Tech University, in China Professor and former Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Arthur Mutambara, Ms Sanusha Naidu, Foreign Policy Analyst, Institute for Global Dialogue, Professor Peng Yi, Co-Director, UJCI; former Minster in the Presidency Dr Essop Pahad, Professor Fu Yongxiang, Chief if Staff in the President’s Office, Nanjing Tech University, and former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad.
The conference attracted about 150 policymakers, academics, businesspeople, students and members of the general society, including Former Minister in the Presidency, Dr Essop Pahad, former Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and newly-appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg, Professor Arthur Mutambara, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aziz Pahad, and President of Nanjing Technological University, Qiao Xu.
The seminar was opened by Dr David Monyae, Co-Director of the UJ Confucius Institute, who articulated the reason for convening the seminar as the recently busy global diplomatic stage and increasingly strained relations between the two leading global economies and finding a position for Africa amidst the increasingly polarised global arena. "We have the history of the Cold War to warn us of the dangers of a bipolar world," Dr Monyae stated, adding that "it is too often said that when two elephants fight, it is the grass which suffers."
The keynote speaker in the seminar was Professor Wang Dong of Peking University in China in Beijing. His lecture spoke to the various stages of globalisation and China's role in each. He argued that China had gone from being a passive participant to being an active participant and was now entering a third phase of being a shaper of globalisation. Through the bold and ambitious grand plan of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is seeking to "integrate Chinese economy more closely with the world." Prof Wang was unconvinced of a pending conflict between the US and the PRC due to "the complementarity and competition between the Beijing consensus and the Washington Consensus."
In his presentation, Professor Henry Sun posed the question of whether what we are seeing is in effect a "trade war or a media war?" Professor Sun, who teaches in the United States, the UK and Canada, who is also one of the pioneers of the field of international political marketing, articulated the view that the US under Trump has been engaged in a war with the media and has been creating political scandals in order to avert attention to the president's errors on the domestic front.
Ms Sanusha Naidu, who was the discussant, highlighted the fact that globalisation is not particularly a new phenomenon, and that the principal issue with each epoch of globalisation is inclusivity of all people and addressing inequality in the world.
The presentations and response were followed by a lively Q&A session, during which attendees made comments and raised questions around issues of whether Africa should pursue the path of protectionism, Africa's embrace and China's grasp of the fourth industrial revolution and whether the US's decline is inevitable.
Also speaking at the event, The president of Nanjing Technological University, in China, Professor Qiao Xu, UJ's strategic partner the co-founding institution of the UJ Confucius Institute, addressed the audience and informed the students and staff who will be travelling to China as part of the UJCI's summer camp that he looked forward to welcoming them.
Participants were thanked for their attendance and participation and were informed of the Institute's upcoming seminars and public dialogues, including one with Professor Mutambara on the humanities and artificial intelligence in early July 2018, and the institute's call for papers which can be accessed here: http://confucius-institute.joburg/category/calls-for-papers/