Slaying the Dragon

Slaying the dragon? It might seem from my title that I am about to urge that Australia join an armed coalition to take on China militarily and defeat it. Am I crying “England and St George!” like a character out of G.A. Henty’s boys’ novel St George for England; or in the phrase from Shakespeare’s Henry V, “Cry God for Harry, England and St George” and suggesting that we acquire the ability, in Ross Babbage’s phrase, to “rip an arm off a major power”? No. That is not my meaning at all. The phrase is adapted from an address by the Chinese political scientist Yan Jiaqi. 

Yan was a close adviser to Premier Zhao Ziyang in the late 1980s. In a speech in 1988, he declared that China had inherited a “dragon culture” from its long imperial past. If it was to become a free, cosmopolitan and peaceful society, he argued, it had to leave that dragon culture behind it. He fled China in 1989, after the Communist Party’s bloody suppression of the Chinese democracy movement. He has lived in exile in the United States ever since. I shall argue that Yan Jiaqi was correct and that Australian policy-makers, business people, diplomats and intellectuals should be committed to the transformation Yan called for a generation ago.

Why? First of all, because it is right to do so. But also because Australia has a large and growing stake in the stability and prosperity of China. It is increasingly clear that those things require that China bring about the political liberalisation and social transformation that was aborted in 1989 and has remained repressed ever since. Both from the point of view of our burgeoning trade with China and from the point of view of peace and co-operation in the Asian and Pacific world, it is increasingly important that political reform occur in China.

When you hear businessmen or intellectuals, diplomats or politicians declare that democracy does not suit China, that the Communist Party has done an extraordinary job in bringing prosperity to China, that we have too great a stake in our trade with China to antagonise it by pushing for things like human rights and democracy, you need to understand that those people speak in ignorance and error. You need to understand that if we do not see past the surface of things to the underlying tensions and currents in Chinese national life, we betray both the Chinese people and ourselves. And we will, sooner rather than later, find that our most basic practical interests are damaged as a consequence.

There has just been a generational handover of leadership in China. Barring an unanticipated upheaval in the next few months, President Hu Jintao will hand over that office to Xi Jinping and Premier Wen Jiabao will hand his to Li Keqiang. I say “barring an unanticipated upheaval”, because earlier this year there was something of an upheaval when Bo Xilai, flamboyant Party princeling and power broker, was suddenly toppled from power and imprisoned, along with his glamorous wife Gu Kailai. Both have been charged with capital crimes. Gu has been convicted, in characteristic kangaroo-court style, of murdering British businessman Neil Heyward. Bo faces grave charges and his fate remains uncertain as of this writing.

Even before Bo and Gu fell from grace, Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao were warning that China faced the prospect of a tragic upheaval on the scale of the Cultural Revolution, putting in jeopardy all the gains of the past generation—unless it embarked on serious political reform. Those were remarkable words from official heads of state of a dictatorship which has relentlessly suppressed civil society and calls for political liberalisation for the past twenty-three years. Indeed, for a regime that still officially derives its legitimacy from the seizure of power by Mao Zedong in 1949, those words were stunning in their implications. For Mao caused the Cultural Revolution, which devastated China; just as he had earlier caused the catastrophe of the Great Leap Forward, which brought about the worst famine in recorded history, in which at least 30 million Chinese died of starvation.

Nor were the remarks of China’s outgoing leaders earlier this year mere stray remarks. They were speaking to a party with something like 80 million members, a gigantic organisation, in which concern over abuses, corruption, dissent and the suppression of democratic reform has never entirely disappeared since 1989. The Party’s pre-eminent bi-weekly magazine, Qiushi, has come out in just the past few weeks with the unambiguous proclamation that the incoming leadership must choose between bold political and social reform and driving China into a dead end. Qiushi means “seeking truth”. Now, seeking truth is always an arduous undertaking and seldom more so than under communist dictatorships. But consider the implications of the Party’s own leading intellectual magazine coming out with such a statement. And then ask yourself whether those in this country who dismiss calls for political reform and human rights in China are being realistic, never mind principled in what they tell you.

We need to be clear about the mountainous task that truth-seekers in China face in lobbying for bold political and social reform. Since 1989, the Communist Party has presided over the creation of the most formidable apparatus of political and social surveillance and repression in the world. Even as its military budget has ballooned in the past twenty years, from one of the smallest among the major powers to the second-largest and by far the fastest growing, China’s internal security apparatus has mushroomed even more. It is now estimated that its annual budget runs to $110 billion, spread across half a dozen overlapping agencies: the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Supervision, the Ministry of Justice, the Central Politics and Law Commission, and the sinister 610 Office. There is also a clutch of organisations involved in trying to control the flow of information in China: the State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Information, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

If you believe that the extent of surveillance and invasion of privacy in the United States expanded disturbingly after 9/11 and that this is an area that calls for vigilant review in the interests of democratic liberties, you would do well to register the fact that the situation in China is incomparably worse. And whereas in the United States the press, judiciary, political opposition and academia are all free to challenge the government, in China there is no reliable means of redress or resistance. A Beijing sociologist, Yu Jianrong, wrote last year that

For the sake of stability [the Communist Party has] suppressed the livelihood of the people, suppressed human rights, suppressed the rule of law, suppressed reform. But stability preservation has not suppressed corruption, nor has it suppressed mining tragedies, nor has it suppressed illegal property demolitions and seizures.

All it has done, as Chinese scholar Guo Xuezhi points out, in his new book China’s Security State, is build the “biggest security state in the world” and it is that security state that the very top leaders are now admitting is taking China down a dead end.

One of China’s most distinguished thinkers, the great liberal economist Mao Yushi, remarked recently that the Arab Spring has deeply alarmed the stability addicts in the Chinese security state, because it illustrated how quickly popular revolutions can gather momentum, even in the face of repressive state forces. “If you look at these protests,” he said, “almost all of them are because of abuse of governmental power. That’s why the leaders are very worried. They are the cause of political instability.” Over the past fifteen years or so, the yearly incidence of mass protests and demonstrations in China has risen relentlessly from thousands to tens of thousands to 180,000 when, a few years ago, the Party decided to suppress statistical records of them because the numbers were becoming so disturbing. And this rise in unrest has taken place during the very years when China’s economy has been growing at such astounding rates that, in gross terms, it has become the second-largest in the world.

Now consider the possibility that China’s economy ceases to grow at quite the same breakneck pace as it has done for two or more decades. Consider, further, that the environmental damage caused by this era of unprecedented industrialisation and urbanisation has been worse than anything we have known in the West. Moreover, China’s population is now ageing at an increasingly rapid rate, so that it will face massive problems with health and welfare within a decade but lacks the infrastructure to deal with them. It suffers massive gender imbalance as a result of its coercive one-child policy of the 1980s and 1990s. Its huge current account surpluses look impressive, but they have piled up in a lopsided global trade regime that is now floundering. Its export-led growth model can only be replaced by a viable, domestic-consumption-led growth model if its approach to domestic economic institutions radically changes; but that approach is now in the hands of powerful vested interests. These are the looming realities that have led Wen and Hu, belatedly, to call for reform to avert catastrophe.

You don’t see much of this reported in our own media, where the earnings from exports to China, and the fortunes people still hope to make there, seem to cloud reflective or strategic thinking about China. But consider that, inside China, Hu Jintao is being widely and openly criticised for having failed to tackle the challenges of political reform. A senior editor at the Beijing Youth Daily said recently:

Everyone has always been able to see that these contradictions are not sustainable. But there is a widespread feeling that the country is moving closer to the brink of crisis.

You won’t hear Hugh White or Kerry Stokes or Twiggy Forrest or Malcolm Fraser saying such things or reflecting on their disturbing implications. Let me repeat those ominous words: there is a widespread feeling in China that the country is moving closer to the brink of crisis. That, rather than the superficially impressive data on China’s trade surpluses and GDP, should be the pivotal consideration in our minds when we reflect on our relationship with China and whether or not we should support political reform there.

What is lacking from the rhetoric we too often get on this subject is not only an empirical acquaintance with the realities of China, but any depth of perspective on its history. Let me sketch in a few salient aspects of that history, because it is going to be terribly important, in the years ahead, to bear these points in mind. They will be crucial reference points as we deal with a China which, by its own account, badly needs—but may not achieve—bold political and social reform. If you are looking for such depth of perspective, don’t bother to read Martin Jacques’s international best-seller When China Rules the World—or for that matter Hugh White’s recent offering, The China Choice. Both lack any historical perspective worthy of the name. Consider, rather, the following figures and their vital, seminal place in the great drama that is about to unfold before our eyes, with important implications for our economic and security interests.

You will have heard the tired old cliché that China was pre-eminent in Asia until Western imperialists assaulted the venerable Middle Kingdom, force-fed it opium and inflicted humiliation and poverty on it for a hundred years. Here is a better take on China’s history since the early nineteenth century: the Qing Dynasty stagnated and rejected reform and openness, even as social unrest and political dissent built up. Certainly the round-eyed barbarians intruded, but vastly more damage was caused by a series of gigantic civil wars within China in the 1850s and 1860s that cost many tens of millions of lives. The most important of these was the Taiping civil war, in which a revolutionary movement of self-styled Chinese Christians fought to overthrow the foreign, corrupt and oppressive Qing and sought British encouragement and arms to do so. The Taiping wanted to embrace the West, to trade with it, to build railroads, emancipate women, reform education and Christianise China. They were spurned by Britain and the West more generally.

Shortly before he was assassinated by a Korean nationalist in October 1909, the great Japanese statesman Ito Hirobumi gave an interview to a British journalist. Hirobumi was by then an elder statesman, sixty-eight years old, who had been prime minister of Japan four times. He had also been the chief architect of Japan’s stunning late-nineteenth-century political and social reforms. Stephen Platt, in his newly published history of the Taiping civil war, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, recaptures for us a remarkable statement Hirobumi made to the reporter:

The greatest mistake which you Western people, and more especially you English people, made in all your dealings with China, was to help the Manchus in putting down the Taiping rebellion.

Hirobumi saw the rising tensions in China in 1909, which were to lead to the downfall of the Manchus (the Qing Dynasty) just a couple of years later, as a revolution long overdue. The republican rebels of the 1900s, he believed, were merely taking up again the work the Taiping had attempted half a century earlier.

Hirobumi’s remark, just over one hundred years ago, should resonate with us all now. For just as the 1911 rebels were trying to finish the work of the Taiping, after half a century of Manchu repression, the democracy reformers in China now are trying to complete the work of modern revolution in China after more than half a century of communist repression. In Hirobumi’s time, Chinese reformers in 1898 called for political reform, educational reform and economic reform. They were beheaded or exiled. One of them, Liang Qichao (1873–1929), came to Australia. He studied our new constitution and wrote for his Chinese readers that China should become a constitutional monarchy with a federal government modelled on what he was observing in this country.

Did you know that this highly educated and deeply intelligent Chinese mandarin had come to Australia at the time of Federation, liked what he saw and recommended to his literate countrymen that China model itself politically on Australia? I rather suspect not, and you would be in the very best company. But it should be a common reference point for those of us debating our country’s relationship with China now—and something to share reflectively with our Chinese interlocutors.

A decade after his sojourn in Australia, Liang Qichao participated in a revolution in China, in which the Qing were finally overthrown and a republic was founded. He led one of several parties which then contested democratic, nationwide elections in China. Some 40 million citizens voted—all male, propertied and educated—and elected a 596-member National Assembly, on a multi-party basis. It convened in Beijing to deliberate over and create a new republican constitution. This was to be the beginning of a modern, democratic China, inspired by the West, not oppressed or plundered by it.

But then traditional dragon culture kicked in: on March 20, 1913, at Shanghai station, about to board a train for Beijing to take leadership of the largest of the parties in the National Assembly, the Guomindang, the wunderkind of Chinese democratic politics, Song Jiaoren, only thirty years old, was assassinated by agents of an old imperial general who was supposed to have been on the side of the nascent republic—Yuan Shikai. The general then disbanded the newly elected National Assembly, established an authoritarian regime in Beijing, and tried to return China to its traditional mode of government.

Liang Qichao tried to work with and counsel Yuan. But the general’s attempt to establish an authoritarian regime failed. China fragmented into warlord-dominated fiefdoms and was gravely weakened in the process. For the following thirty years, internal war, brutal factional struggles and Japanese invasion afflicted China, while the West was on the sidelines, uncertain who to back or what to do and mostly seeking profitable trade in the Chinese world. The great Chinese writer Lu Xun, agonised by China’s deplorable state, concluded that China’s ills were wholly of its own making and could not, in good conscience, be laid at the door of any foreigner.

As Chiang Kai-shek consolidated a dictatorship in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Lu Xun was one of a number of Chinese thinkers who insisted that the country needed human rights and democracy, not dictatorship. Another who did so was Hu Shih, whose name needs now to be revived and held high as a true hero of modern China. But he was marginalised by Chiang Kai-shek and had to flee the communists altogether in 1949. Now, in the immediate future, we need to talk of his homecoming, because he is the luminary China so badly needs in the 2010s.

It is vital to realise, though it is almost never stated, that the communist revolution in the 1940s was a huge backward step for China. We may explain why it took place, but that is quite different from accepting that it was a good thing that it did so, which is what Communist Party propaganda and the apologists for dragon culture have so long urged us to believe. In reality, serious and thoughtful figures in late Qing China, early Republican China and Communist China—when they have been able to speak out without facing instant execution or incarceration in “re-education through labour” camps—have insisted that China needed democratic institutions and civil rights, not dictatorship. 

What communism entailed was the entrenchment of arbitrary government to such an extent and with such destructive consequences that it first inflicted more death and oppression on China than any foreigner had done (even the Japanese) and then engineered a lopsided reform program which now threatens to implode due to political rigidity. At the apex of the Communist Party, this is now recognised. We, in Australia, must take cognisance of it at long last and think through its implications.

Have you ever heard of the Anti-Rightist Campaign in China under Mao Zedong? It took place in 1957, immediately after the Hundred Flowers Movement, in which Mao had called upon China’s intellectuals to tell the Party frankly what their concerns were and how the Party could better govern China. The result was an outpouring of criticisms of the Party’s abuse of power, inefficiency, violence, propaganda and philistinism. Mao recoiled in horror and anger and launched a vicious campaign of repression in which hundreds of thousands of intellectuals were arrested and imprisoned and no one knows how many done to death.

Mao boasted that the First Emperor, Qin Shih Huangdi, in the third century BC, had had hundreds of scholars buried alive, but that he had had hundreds of thousands of them buried alive, at least metaphorically speaking. This is the man whose portrait still stands over Tiananmen Square. This is the man still lionised by Hu Jintao as the great founder of the People’s Republic of China. This is the man whom Bo Xilai invoked before his downfall as the champion of China’s oppressed masses. Bo, of course, indulged in such rhetoric while stealing hundreds of millions of dollars and siphoning them off through the late unlamented Neil Heyward into foreign bank accounts.

When we contemplate China in 2012, the hundredth anniversary of the downfall of the Qing Dynasty and the foundation of the Republic of China, we need to remind ourselves that throughout that century and for some years before it the finest minds in China have called for political reform on liberal lines and for the rule of law to replace the arbitrary rule of self-appointed elites. Such reform was rejected by the Qing court in 1898 and its leading proponents were beheaded or exiled. Yet it resurfaced in 1911–12. It was suppressed again by Yuan Shikai, in 1913–16, but resurfaced with the May Fourth Movement in 1919. It was suppressed by Chiang Kai-shek in 1927–31, but resurfaced in the principled advocacy of Lu Xun, Hu Shih and others. It was suppressed by the Communist Party in the years after 1949, but rose to the surface in the Hundred Flowers Movement, only to be crushed again. It was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution, yet rose to the surface yet again in the late 1970s, given half a chance. It was crushed in 1989 and for years apologists for the dictatorship argued that it had been subsumed by the enthusiasm for getting rich. They were in error. It is alive now and acknowledged at the highest levels of the Party. But powerful vested interests, as of old, stand in the way of it being brought at last to fruition.

Now, all those reasonably familiar with the history of the West know that it took centuries of struggle to bring about liberal democratic institutions, starting with freedom of speech and of the press even in England and America, to say nothing of continental Europe. We, too, had an imperial culture that we had to overcome. Like China’s it was deeply rooted. It was the culture of Rome, of Caesar and of Papism. Whether we look back to Socrates or only to Gutenberg, to Luther and Tyndale, or Galileo, to Milton and the religious non-conformists, or Locke and the separation of church and state; to Wilkes and liberty or John Stuart Mill on liberty, we know that our struggle, also, was long and painful.

We should not, therefore, feel in any way self-righteous about the enormous struggle through which China has gone, so far with little success, to overcome its dragon culture and transform itself into a more liberal and cosmopolitan form of society. But the time has come to acknowledge that such a goal is no less Chinese than it has been Western; that the time is upon us and upon China when it must take decisive steps forward and that our interests, as well as our principles are at stake in this great transition.

Let’s bear in mind that the same Communist Party that is now acknowledging that it must find the will and means to embrace bold political and social reform or risk going over a precipice, is the same party that has for twenty-three years insisted that the Tiananmen demonstrations in April and May 1989 were the work of “black hands” from Taiwan and the United States bent on fomenting counter-revolutionary chaos and weakening China. That was at best paranoia and at worst thoroughly disingenuous propaganda.

It is, however, terribly important that we understand two things in thinking through how to support bold political reform in China. First, there is a deep fear of chaos and political disintegration in China dating back to the horrors of the Taiping era, the anarchy of the warlord era, and the miseries of the Cultural Revolution. Second, political reform is always and everywhere a matter, as Max Weber expressed it in 1920, of the “slow boring of hard wood”. We need both to see the need and to will the patient, thoughtful, pragmatic means.

And we cannot make this happen in China. It may not happen. China might, in reality, go over a precipice, with traumatic consequences for its own people and for our interests. But even if reform comes, it is unlikely to happen in quite the neat or orderly or predictable manner that pure theory might suggest. As the tensions in Chinese politics and society manifest themselves, however, we need to bear firmly in mind that the objective is a free, prosperous and thoroughly self-respecting China; not a weakened, confused or subordinate one.

It is in our interest for China to prosper in a sustained and authentic manner. It is in our interest that China come to see itself as an integral and esteemed member of the comity of twenty-first-century nations: not on the basis of a dragon culture’s hauteur and growing military clout; not as the rival of America; but as the brother of the West in taking science, economic innovation and democratic governance to new levels. It is decidedly not in Australia’s interest to see China go down a dead end or fall over a precipice. In this we should wholeheartedly concur with the candid editorial writers in Qiushi and Beijing Youth Daily.

But let us not fall into the same trap that, as those writers remind the Party and Hu Jintao, the regime has fallen into since 1989—the trap of preserving “stability” at the expense of constructive reform. This is the central point on which there can now be agreement and intelligent dialogue: that just as the West is in patent need of better economic and political governance itself if it is to continue to flourish, so China is in inescapable need of political reform if it is to sustain its reform and opening era.

We in the West have been humbled by our own failures in the past decade, or should have been. There is scope, therefore, for a genuine, searching dialogue about how to reinvent institutions and enhance human well-being both East and West in the coming generation. And that dialogue does not need to be a matter—and must not be made a matter—of Western preaching to China, but rather of a recollection of the most venerable and thoughtful Chinese reformers of the modern age as representatives of universal principles and common human goods. Hu Shih now looms large as Hu Jintao prepares to step aside. All of us should learn to put ourselves in the shoes of that Chinese reformer.

Often in the West we look back to classical Greece and declare it the most glorious era of Western civilisation, when so many new ideas and so many imperishable artistic accomplishments occurred. Hu Shih looked back to the era of the hundred schools of thought in fifth-century BC China, before the King of Qin first created the Chinese empire in the third century BC, as the most glorious era of Chinese thought. He wrote this and other reflections while living in quiet scholarly retirement in Chiang Kai-shek’s Taiwan, even as Mao Zedong’s totalitarian regime wrought murderous revolution on the mainland.

He lived in a simple house in Taipei, which has long since been turned into a museum. If you visit it, you can purchase a small volume of his reflections called Tolerance and Freedom. He looked back to the era of the Chinese sages not as a reactionary antiquarian, not as an inward-looking Chinese romantic, but as a cosmopolitan intellectual, educated in the United States, who longed to see the old Chinese dragon culture become a modern and liberal culture. What China needs now, what we need it to find, is a cadre of leaders fired by this vision and with the political courage and determination to bring it into being.

With such a China, with a China striving patiently and deliberately in that direction, we could not only trade but also communicate on equable and unconstrained terms. If Hu Shih was the common ground, there would be nothing we could not discuss in a civilised manner. If our Chinese interlocutors were comfortable with us invoking the name of the great Liang Qichao, there would be nothing Australians could not intelligently explore with them. While the sinister and overblown figure of Mao Zedong stands between us and looms over Tiananmen Square and while the failures of the Qing Dynasty to adapt to the nineteenth-century world or to govern its subjects justly and competently are blamed on the West by a xenophobic and aggrieved Chinese nationalism, such dialogue is inevitably stilted and obstructed.

What is now needed, as the complement to bold political reform in China, is a new and far more honest approach to Chinese historiography than that which has dominated discourse since Edgar Snow lionised Mao Zedong in Red Star over China in the mid-1930s. Such a historiography is perfectly possible and it does not arise from any kind of presumptuous Western “Orientalism”. It arises simply from pulling aside the curtain of propaganda and secrecy that the Communist Party has for too long held over the stage of modern Chinese history and thought.

Many patient and patriotic Chinese thinkers have laboured against great odds to make this possible over the past thirty years and more. It is time now to embrace that hidden history, precisely for the reasons that the editors of Qiushi have been urging upon the Party as the leadership transition approaches. Let me try to encapsulate that idea in one more modern Chinese figure; one linked by family ties, as it were, to Australia.

Liang Sicheng (1901–72), the son of the great reformer Liang Qichao, was an idealist, like his father. He was an architect and scholar. He was full of hope for the renewal of China. But he suffered all the disappointments of the communist revolution and died in China under Mao Zedong. Educated in Beijing under the republic and in the United States, Liang Sicheng wrote an extraordinary book called A History of Chinese Architecture. In it, he described six stages in the development of Chinese architecture, going back to the Shang Dynasty, 3500 years ago.

Even as the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and then of China south of the Great Wall in 1937 made north China more and more vulnerable, Liang Sicheng set up, at Qinghua University in Beijing, an Institute for Architectural Research. There he conceived a vision of the renewal of China’s old cities for the modern world. In particular, he imagined the old imperial capital being converted into a garden city, with the ancient Ming walls being made into a combination of museum and public park for the health and leisure of a liberated and cosmopolitan citizenry.

He was in America in the late 1940s, when the republic was overthrown by the communists. His father had long since died. But he chose to return to China, hoping to make a constructive contribution to the “New China” that the Party declared it was going to build. His reputation and that of his father were such that he was given a senior appointment in Beijing in city planning, but his vision did not come to fruition. He and his wife suffered marginalisation and oppression by the communists on ideological grounds, even in the 1950s.

His wife, Lin Huiyin, died in 1955, aged only fifty-one. He himself suffered arrest and indoctrination during the savage purges of the 1950s and was even compelled to criticise his deceased and venerated father. He had to watch while Mao and his Party demolished the ancient walls and built grim, Stalinist-style industrial suburbs in their place. He died in Beijing in 1972, the Cultural Revolution still wrecking China around him.

Here is our man! This is the spirit of China at its best. That spirit is once again struggling to come to the fore, despite so many setbacks, and we must do whatever we can to recognise and embrace it.

When we see opportunities in China, when we feel a certain amount of awe at the transformation of the Chinese economy, the burgeoning of its cities, the new-found prosperity of large numbers—though still a decided minority—of its people; we should be mindful of the generous and cosmopolitan vision of China’s finest twentieth-century minds and speak to it. If we are to prosper sustainably in trade with China, it must be this China; if we are to feel secure in a world in which China becomes a truly rich and powerful state, then it is very much in our interest that it be this China we have to deal with.

No one should want to see China’s recent progress set back. But if it is to be sustained and deepened, then it is time, at long last, for the dragon to be slain and for the beauty of all that is best in China to meet the best that the modern world has to offer. Mao Zedong was not the dragon slayer. He was the very embodiment of the dragon. Liang Qichao and Liang Sicheng, Lu Xun and Hu Shih and, let it be said, the imprisoned Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, leading author of the suppressed Charter 08, are the real dragon slayers of modern China. Their time has come and we, in Australia, need to collectively recast our perception of China, our dialogue with China and our future relationship with China in terms of their vision.

This is an edited version of an address Paul Monk delivered to a luncheon at the Athenaeum Club in Melbourne in late October. Dr Monk is a director and principal at Austhink Consulting in Melbourne. He is the author of a number of books, including Thunder from the Silent Zone: Rethinking China (2005), Sonnets to a Promiscuous Beauty: A Homage to the Western Canon (2006) and The West in a Nutshell: Foundations, Fragilities, Futures (2009). These last two are available online from

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