Building bridges with China #opinion
This week Wolverhampton Wanderers announced a deal to show their matches on pay-to-view television in China. Is this a good idea? Well, Wolves new Chinese owner Jeff Shi must think so. Do I think it is a good idea? Well, I know many Chinese students at the University of Wolverhampton quickly become Wolves fans when they come to Wolverhampton, their halls of residence, Randall Lines, is close to the Molineux stadium. We have to start building bridges with China and with other nations. We can’t become isolationist.
Today’s photo was taken by Fei Yip just after she arrived from China to study at the University of Wolverhampton. She studied at the university’s business school in Xiaogan in China and then finished her degree in Wolverhampton. It was very expensive, but she stayed on to obtain a Master’s degree in international marketing. She now works in international marketing in Shanghai and has just returned from a business trip to Europe. Who benefits from us taking international students into our universities? The universities are expanding their facilities with the fees they receive and the students get a good education that helps them start a lucrative career. Everyone wins.
It is not just football that the Chinese want to see on their televisions, they also like western music. They watch western movies and television programmes too. We do need to come to an agreement with China about copyrights, much of what they watch and listen to is pirated. Much of the internet is blocked for the Chinese too so we might need some controls on the internet. That would mean us talking to the Chinese regulators and trying to understand their concerns. I think some people in the west also have concerns about the amount of pornography on the internet and the ease with which children access it.
China produces cheap goods for people in the west to buy, but when the Chinese come to the UK they want Burberry and Dior. They want luxury goods and they are looking for goods that are not only quality but that also confer status. Britain is very good at conferring status. We have the high-status cars like Rolls Royce, a high-status Royal Family and a fashion industry to rival Paris. The Chinese tourist also wants culture and we have a wealth of history and historic places for them to visit and learn about. We do need to conquer our xenophobia, embrace the challenges and welcome overseas visitors to our country.
The internet and social media allow us to reach out to people across the world. We can start building bridges with China and other countries and that is the way forward for international cooperation and trade. Now we have burnt our bridges with Europe we need to build bridges with developing nations and learn about their culture and interests. When I look at my social media accounts I do have Facebook friends who live in China, India and other faraway places. I am building bridges. Some of my Facebook friends are Muslim. Why not? My doctor is a Muslim! We have to look beyond the media distortions of reality and make our own minds up about people. For that, we have to talk to people and get to know them. They do have different beliefs and religions that we should try to understand.
Building bridges with people who are different isn’t easy. We have to become aware of the differences and not make judgements. The television and newspapers sensationalise and fuel the xenophobia that causes conflicts and wars. We have to rise above the envy and greed and make our own minds up about people regardless of race, beliefs and disability.