The End of the Chinese Dream:
Lecture by: Gerard Lemos
Location: Auditorium 1/F, Duke of Windsor Social Services Building, 15 Hennessy Road, Wanchai
HK$100 RGS HK members and HK$150 Non Members
No need to pre book
Drinks from 6.30 pm (cash bar) lecture starts 7.30pm
Gerard Lemos lectures on "The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future". Mr Lemos is a leading international social policy expert, a visiting Professor at Chongqing University and Global Chairman of the British Council. In this lecture, he argues that there was an optimistic moment for ordinary Chinese people in the 1980s, when even poor farmers and factory workers could look forward to a more secure, prosperous and comfortable future. But the redoubling of reform since the 1990s has left millions of Chinese people feeling left out and left behind.
In this lecture, Mr Lemos shows why it is that China faces as many as 180,000 protests annually, far more than any other country in the world and why it is that Chinese leaders spend so much time talking about the need for grassroots reform. He also tells in humorous detail how he managed to circumvent the efforts of local officials, who were clearly concerned about his potential findings, to confiscate the results of his work.
Glossy television images of happy, industrious and increasingly prosperous workers show a bright view of life in twenty-first-century China. But behind the officially approved story is a different reality, Mr Lemos argues. Having conducted hundreds of interviews with Chinese men and women in non-westernised areas distant from such cities as Beijing and Shanghai, he reports that the lives his subjects describe belie the myth of a harmonious, cohesive Chinese society. Much as the government promotes such a positive image, everyday people in China are beleaguered by immense social and community problems, as well as personal, family and financial anxieties.
Mr Lemos tells of a China beyond the tourist trail. He offers a revealing account of the thoughts and feelings of Chinese people regarding all facets of their lives, from education to health care, unemployment to age, and politics to wealth. Taken together, the stories of these men and women bring to light a partly-broken society, one whose people are frustrated, angry, sad and often fearful about the circumstances of their lives. He considers the implications of these findings and analyses how China's community and social problems threaten the ambitious nation's hopes for a cohesive future.
Visiting and working in factory and farming communities around China, Gerard Lemos asked hundreds of ordinary Chinese people their fears and dreams and has analysed those views meticulously and rigorously to create a detailed and compelling picture of the concerns of ordinary Chinese people, about health care, unemployment, education, pensions and the loss of community and tradition, far away from the "go-go" cities of the Eastern seaboard.
Contrary to the popular stereotype, Chinese people are not accepting their exclusion with stoicism - they protest continuously. Local officials, who are often incompetent and sometimes corrupt, do not want more senior officials to know the truth about what is going on. So senior officials are often caught by surprise and scramble to respond effectively. At a time of economic slowdown and leadership transition, which can result in policy paralysis, these social dynamics are highly problematic for Chinese leaders, creating and contributing to the sense of an uncertain future.
Gerard Lemos is an international expert on social policy and visiting Professor at Chongqing University. He advises governments, businesses and charities worldwide. He is Global Chairman of the British Council, Chairman of the Money Advice Service of the Financial Services Authority, Vice-President of the Board of Film Classification and holds numerous other public positions including as an Audit Commissioner, a Civil Service Commissioner and a non-executive director of Crown Prosecution Service. He is the author of several books and reports about social policy. His first book, in collaboration with the celebrated sociologist Michael Young, was The Communities We Have Lost and Can Regain. He received a CMG in the Queens' Birthday Honours List for services to the British Council. He has written and lectured widely on social policy all over the world. His eponymous new book The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese people fear the future, was published in June 2012 to widespread praise