David Gosset: The Great Invisible Wall in China

David Gosset is director of the Euro-China Center for International and Business Relations at CEIBS, Shanghai, and founder of the Euro-China Forum. He writes in the Asia Times Online:

Most of the media reports will not present a thorough and balanced analysis of the situation in China’s Xinjiang region, a vast area where stability and development are not only strategic for the People’s Republic of China but are also key elements of Central Asia’s fragile equilibrium.

Therefore, 16 months after the violence in Tibet, Urumqi’s tragic clashes will affect China’s image in the West. On the backdrop of a global financial and economic crisis, the understanding gap between Beijing and the West is widening. It is urgent to reverse this trend.

On the road toward comprehension and cooperation stands a serious obstacle; an invisible wall of mistrust, ignorance and fear is separating the West and China. Without any objective physical location, less spectacular than the Iron Curtain or the Berlin Wall and more difficult to define, it is an intangible construct of the individual and collective psyche which has to be torn down.

For a long period of time, China’s Great Wall has been the symbol of an isolated and declining empire with its elites incapable of adjusting to change. Today, the Great Invisible Wall could refer to the West’s inability to fully appreciate the extent of China’s transformation and how it is redistributing world power in the 21st century. For the analyst, the discrepancy between the paucity of Western responsiveness to the new historical conditions and the magnitude of the shift induced by China’s return to centrality, is a source of perplexity.

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