Alistair Michie, Group Business and Government Advisor, speaks at the Third Annual China Global Think Tank Innovation Forum 2018

The Annual China Global Think Tank Innovation Forum gathers experts and leaders of many leading global think tanks and plays a key role in shaping government policy worldwide.

Hampton Group Group Business and Government Advisor Alistair Michie was invited to give the keynote speech at the Third Annual China Global Think Tank Innovation Forum, in his role as Chairman of the International Advisory Board of the Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG). In his speech, Alistair warned of the dangers of an increasing ‘knowledge deficit’ in the West on Asia and especially China.

In past 40 years, China has modernised and industrialised at a speed and scale unprecedented in human history. China is fast approaching the point where it will become the largest global economy, and have almost a quarter of the world’s population. However, there is an increasing ‘knowledge deficit’ between the world and China.

China’s biggest challenge is to communicate with the world. Recent Chinese government policies have aimed to support tackling this ‘knowledge deficit’, but there are very limited practical solutions. Most Chinese officials lack international experience and therefore do not understand the challenge – let alone the ability to deliver solutions.

Furthermore, teaching about Chinese culture, civilisation and history is almost totally absent from school curriculum in high income countries outside of China. This results in little motivation by students to pursue studying China at university. When China is studied at universities outside of China, the focus is on ancient liberal arts history. Yet key areas such as economic, industrial and scientific history of China or contemporary China studies are rarely focused on.

In addition, the speed of change of China makes it a great challenge for curricula and knowledge to keep pace outside of China. The boards of major businesses and organisations have not recruited members with real knowledge to advise on how to minimise risk and optimise success and explain the ‘knowledge deficit’.

Alistair called for research and practical policies that can be presented to governments world-wide to tackle the ‘knowledge deficit’. Without such action, several challenges will appear – such as the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China – founded on ignorance, misunderstanding and miscalculation.