Examination of Witnesses (Questions 520
THURSDAY 14 MAY 2009
Professor Xinning Song
Q520 Lord Jones:
Very briefly, professor, why not send us your publication on the
EU environmental policy and its implication for China?
Professor Song: It is a project from early 2000.
At that time we talked about the importance of environmental issues
to economic development. It was published in 2002.
Q521 Lord Inge:
Can I come back to defence policy for a minutenot the Common
Foreign Security Policy. When China modernised its armed forces,
a key part of that modernisation was to allow it to project military
power. Why do you think that was?
Professor Song: I do not know. Project?
Q522 Lord Inge:
In other words, to allow you to deploy military power overseas.
Professor Song: My understanding is every kind
of military modernisation needs to do that.
Lord Inge: You might tell Europe that!
We can obviously learn in that area perhaps. Professor, just following
up a point on the military side, the arms embargo was a pivotal
point in EU-China relationships. Where would China like to see
that go, or is it a subject that has to be avoided completely?
Professor Song: On the arms embargo issue, from
my point of view, in 2003 and 2004 they made the mistake of expecting
that the arms embargo could easily be lifted. In 2004 and 2005
they even put the arms embargo as a precondition to the further
development of EU-China relations. That was another mistake. Very
quickly they realised that, and though lots of people criticised
that mistake and they realised it is not easy, that it is very
difficult to solve this problem and they should put it aside and
not allow it to be a major issue in EU-China relations. I think
that was the correct decision. Currently the arms embargo is not
a major issue.
Is there anything else, Professor Song, we have not covered that
you feel you would like to give evidence to our inquiry on briefly?
Professor Song: One thing I would have liked
to mention, as we are in the UK House of Lords, is that I am the
Vice President of the China Association of British Studies. The
UK is the first place where I studied overseas. I was in London
for a year at the LSE. As I mentioned, on the Chinese perception
of the major EU Member States, there is also an expectation from
the Chinese side as to the UK playing a more active role in EU-China
relations. This also refers to the UK'sas we used to say
but I think it is still relevantspecial relationship with
the United States. China also has a special relationship with
the United States. I think China hopes the UK can play a more
productive, constructive role. You have this capacity.
Chairman: Thank you very much for that. That
is a very useful point.
Q525 Lord Selkirk of Douglas:
Can I ask a quick question on a lesser issue. There is a rising
interest in the European Union in tourism to China, seeing heritage
sites, the Emperor's warriors and so on. How important do you
see cultural, tourist contacts as being? Is that a small issue
from your point of view or do you see it as a growing matter?
Professor Song: I think it is very important.
We always say historically China and Europe are closer than China
and the United States. More Chinese come to Europe. From the Chinese
side that is very important. One point I also forgot to mention
was the special role of the UK in Contemporary China Studies.
We always say the Chinese like to work with the United States
because it is easy. One very important reason is that there is
lots of personal contact academically. There is a lack of these
kinds of things between China and EU, but compared with other
European countries, we have more of this kind of contact with
the UK through Chinese Studies, which is strongest in the UK.
Some people will argue it is probably still comparatively weaker
than the United States but I think that is very important.
Chairman: Professor Song, can I thank you very
much for your performance and evidence over the last one and a
half hours. It has been full of insight. Thank you very much indeed.
We will obviously send you the transcript in due course. Thank
you very much indeed.