I had the privilege to travel extensively to China and in China and believe that my knowledge of the country is above the average. Since President Trump, China is seen in the West with different eyes. I regret to say that I strongly admire China´s achievements and believe that we should focus on building bridges between the West and the East, instead of destroying them. As well as I believe that it is difficult, or impossible, to teach energy policy without practical knowledge, it is difficult, or impossible to speak about China with no direct knowledge.
In the last 10 years, I was blessed with the opportunity to live for long periods, or travel extensively, in several countries, including the US and China. I have very good friends in China, mostly former students and their families.
Having lived in the US for so many years, when I worked for the IMF and, more recently, when I was affiliated to several US universities, marked me strongly. The US is a great nation with a unique capacity to integrate foreigners, innovate and solve problems that appear to have no solution. Its innovation system is unique. The US hosts the best universities in the world. The best China scholars, by far, are US based.
At the same time, I am grateful for the opportunity I had to discover China in a period of rapid transformation when China is becoming the largest economy in the world. I travelled extensively around the country and discovered amazing modern cities with a population larger than that of most European countries. I feel very comfortable in Beijing, although I am not fluent in Chinese. I love Chinese food.
I met several parents of my Chinese students in the US, a number of them see me as part of their family; I witnessed the amazing shift in attitude regarding pollution and renewable energies; I discovered the importance Chinese families give to the education of their children.
What impressed me the most?
- The priority politicians give to meet economic challenges and their belief that they have the capacity to make change happen;
- The work ethic of the Chinese labor force;
- The importance of family ties, which has no parallel in the West;
- The attitude of the Chinese students I had in the US;
- The speed of adoption of IT technologies;
- Peking University, the Beijing Hutongs and Tongly, a small city close to Shanghai;
- The high speed train network.
In my daily life in China, I always tried to create bridges between the Western and the Chinese civilization, which is the opposite of destroying bridges. China has plenty to learn from the West, however the West also has plenty to learn from China.
It will be no easy task to improve the relationship between the West and China, however that should be a priority to all the people of goodwill.
After publishing Confined, I plan to write a book on China, where I will show what I discovered in China.