After nearly 40 years of economic reform and growth at home and an opening up to the global economy since the 1990s, China’s ascendant economy faces a new set of challenges, both at home and abroad.

Continuous economic growth has produced interests with a grip on power and authority which – together with extreme wealth inequality – present a challenge for China’s decision makers and the Communist Party leadership. Huge income disparities and a lack of social mobility have been by-products of a highly polluting, investment-driven economic model, which in turn has led other major Asia-Pacific economies to experiment with alternatives, in the pursuit of innovation and growth with more widely distributed economic benefits.

For the West, the current great status offers opportunities mixed with many fears and the potential for frustration. Many developing countries however are lured by China’s financial resources and approach to governance. A major challenge now for China’s policymakers is how to develop a global foreign policy in countries and regions with which China has had hitherto limited engagement, and which present potential economic and security challenges. On top of these tensions and highlighted by recent US–China trade disputes, the technology sector has become a political as well as an economic battleground, at a time when China continues its to pursue a transition from low-cost manufacturing hub to an innovative and creative power.

In this context, this conference will address topics including:

  • What are the primary challenges China faces as part of its proposed economic reform agenda?
  • Should China reassess its approach to global diplomacy? If so, in what ways and where is the need most critical?
  • Can China drive productivity through technological innovation in place of manufacturing? What steps are required?
  • How does China’s ‘development model’ compare with others being experimented with in the Asia-Pacific region? How replicable is it?

Knowledge Partner

The Chatham House Rule
To enable as open a debate as possible, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule.