The Inaugural International Conference of UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland, entitled? "Rising China in the Age of Globalisation", which took place from August 16 to August 18 2007, examined the latest economic, cultural, social and political developments in China.
The International Conference, which was attended by over 130 high level delegates from 13 countries, marked the first and largest gathering ever in Ireland for those people around the world interested in current developments concerning China. ?An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern T.D. sent the Conference organiser a letter of congratulations in which he said “I would like to especially thank and congratulate the Organising and Scientific Committee for the excellent work they undertook to establish this very significant and important event.” Mr Conor Lenihan T.D., Minister for Integration, officially opened the conference. His opening address was followed by opening remarks from the Chinese Ambassador, Mr Zhang Xinseng, and a welcome address by Dr Philip Nolan, Deputy President of UCD.
Professor Robert Alexander Mundell, known as the "father of the Euro" and winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Economics, delivered the keynote speech of the Conference. Professor Mundell said that whilst a common currency in Asia would mitigate the harmful effects of major exchange changes and would be a catalyst for increased economic integration, it is not feasible because it is highly unlikely that China or Japan would be willing to give up their national currency.
Professor Mundell said that China’s manufacturing success and growing share of world exports since the 1990s was equivalent to a competitive shock to the global economy such as the rise of the German and Japanese economies in the 1950s and 1960s. This, he said, had led to an increasing resistance in the West to trade with China with some protectionist tendencies adopted such as the quota on Chinese textiles.
He added that there were a number of factors in this economic success such as China having a large, able and available workforce, an enthusiasm for new technology, a stable exchange rate, high savings, and a desire to progress and learn. However, he warned that its economy does face some major problems. The most pressing in the short-term is macroeconomic management, including exchange rate policy. In the intermediate term, pollution and environmental damage, rural poverty and massive migration to the cities will have to be dealt with, while in the longer-term, China will face a demographic/aging crisis that is the counterpart of its population control measures.
Speaking at the conference, Prof Yao Jingyuan, Chief Economist of National Bureau of Statistics of PR China, said that the inflation rate in China will fall in 2008 as food prices ease and an expansion cools. Other speakers at the conference included Professor Gregory C. Chow, author of The Chinese Economy and adviser to the Chinese Prime Minister and the State Commission for restructuring the country's economic system, and Professor Canrong Jin, Deputy Dean of School of International Studies in Renmin University of China. Michael Dowdle presented the paper on “China and the New Regulatory State” and Don Starr gave the speech on the Confucius Institute programme and associated problems.
Chair of the Conference Organising and Scientific Committee, Dr Liming Wang, Director, UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland, said that links between Ireland and China were growing stronger all the time.
“Both China and Ireland have a long history, profound cultural foundations, and both have created a miracle of economic growth with one in the East, and the other in the West. In recent years, bilateral relations have made remarkable progress. Rapidly developing economic and trade cooperation enabled bilateral trade volume to reach USD5.5 billion in 2006, 13 times its value only eight years previously. Technology and education cooperation maintain a particularly good momentum.”
Dr Wang added that China’s rapid growth and integration into the global economy has led to an increased demand across the world for learning the Chinese language and understanding contemporary Chinese society and culture.
The Conference was jointly organised by UCD and Renmin University of China. The Conference Organising Committee is planning to publish selected papers as a book by a leading publisher.