Diplomatic talk on China

As part of extra-curricular activities and talks organized at Alton College for students, involvement in the Speakers for Schools scheme enabled a group of students to hear from the esteemed Sir Christopher Hum. Politics student Ewan Griffiths, previously at Amery Hill School, attended the talk and gave us his account recently.

Former ambassador to China welcomed by Alton College

"Alton College students were fortunate enough to be joined by Sir Christopher Hum, the former UK ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge. The talk featured Sir Christopher’s stance on China’s future position in the world, Trump and the international community, as well as a thorough analysis on what he feels Brexit will mean for students. The talk gave an insight into diplomatic relations and how Britain conducts itself with a major world power.

The event was well attended and open to all students eager to hear one of the most senior British diplomats give his take on the future of China/UK relations. Sir Christopher began by highlighting how far China has come in the past half-century, reminding students that predicting its next step is always challenging. Sir Christopher held the position of ambassador to China from 2003 – 2006, a time when China moved from an economic power to a military and diplomatic one too. The Former ambassador has also had postings in Hong Kong, Paris, Warsaw and in New York with the UN. This section of the talk focused heavily on 21st century China, it’s databases and The Great “firewall” of China.

The international community being led by an “America First” President was also a key talking point. In Sir Christopher’s opinion, the President doesn’t recognise the work and success of the international community, and that being the US President carries a responsibility that extends beyond the US’s borders. The Brexit debate was also a prominent part of the talk. Sir Christopher views the vote to leave as a grave mistake for the UK and one which reduces its opportunities. This point was, in his opinion, particularly relevant for the Alton College talk, as he claimed young people would face the consequences of an older generation’s decision.

The talk concluded with a set of questions prepared by students beforehand. Sir Christopher was asked about China’s influence over North Korea, US companies using factories who exploit Chinese workers, as well as a question regarding a career in the diplomatic service. All these questions were competently answered, but Sir Christopher reminded the students of his earlier comment that predicting China’s next move was almost impossible. Overall, the talk was an intriguing insight into China and the direction it’s moving the international community towards."