21/12/2012 Newsnight


21/12/2012

Newsnight asks the Chinese ambassador what is next for his country. Plus guns in American schools, and the end of the world. With Gavin Esler.


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Transcript


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Tonight, one of the biggest stories of this year, next year and perhaps

:00:13.:00:16.

of the 21st century, the rise of China.

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A month ago the country brought in a new set of leaders, amid great

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secrecy. Tonight China's ambassador is here, for a rare live interview,

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of the changes we can expect from the new leadership. China's

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superpower role in the world, and whether we in the west really

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understand what makes China tick. Also tonight, a call to arms.

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call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever

:00:43.:00:47.

is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in

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this nation. The National Rifle Association give

:00:51.:00:54.

their verdict, a week after the mass shooting that killed 20

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children, and six staff, in a Connecticut school.

:00:57.:01:03.

Hoi was the end of the world for you? Newsnight's Steven Smith

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hasn't let the moment go to waste. If this really is last orders, the

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man I want on the skill let, is Antonio Carluccio. What goes well

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with the end of the world? Some truffles.

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We hope to hear from those waiting at the Mayan temple at Chichen Itza,

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:01:31.:01:32.

assuming doomsday doesn't occur in the next half our or so.

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Good evening f the last 100 years was rightly described as the

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American century, the next 100 could well be the Chinese century.

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What might that mean. This year we witnessed the Changing of the Guard,

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vet top of the leadership in Beijing. And a new promise to crack

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down on corruption. But America's attention is being drawn away from

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Europe to the Pacific, by the military as well as the economic

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rise of China. How will Beijing use its leadership role? It's rare for

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the Chinese Government, or its spokes people to give broadcast

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interviews, to the UK media, but, in a moment, Zhang Xiaojun, China's

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ambassador in London, will talk us through how China is changing. Here

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is Paul Mason, on what he has witnessed in changing China over

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witnessed in changing China over the last year.

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, the charts tell the tale, China's economy is, on the official figure,

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five-times bigger than it was ten years ago when it joined the World

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Trade Organisation. Its people are tanningably better off. It is rich,

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spectacularly rich. But it is not a happy country. They have to manage

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the strategic shift to consumption, and higher value production. They

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have got to keep on board a population that is noticably

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:02:57.:02:58.

restive. An urban middle-class fed up with pollution and fed up with

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the sense of privilege of the elite. That is not being offered with much

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greater freedom. What they will demand, what that middle-class will

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demand will be very interesting. The outgoing leader himself told

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the 18th Party Congress, corruption could prove fatal to the party, and

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even cause the collapse of the party, and the fall of the state.

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The scale of corruption in China is enormous. Against a leadership that

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is very much aware of that, and again, this is not a new

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recognition, they have been aware of it for a long time. They have

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been heroically trying to stamp out corruption, but it has simply got

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worse and worse. The new leader, Liu Xianping, has begun his term

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with a crackdown on corruption. There is talk -- corruption, there

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is talk, but only so far talk, about some democracy. With social

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unrest always there at the edges, China's leaders know they have to

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build a bigger social safety net, a and a more durable legal system,

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and agress the grievances of 150 million migrant workers. Nowhere

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demonstrates the biggest challenge for the party, than the Internet.

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During the 18th Congress it was impossible to search for the very

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word "18th Congress", searches for party leaders returned few results.

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Ten years ago as China exploded into the world economy, it didn't

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seem very relevant that its internet was censureed and

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repressed. And now, it seems like - - censored and repressed. It seems

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now cut off. There is an effort to create a Chinese infranet, the

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firewall and that China is sufficient unto itself, it can't

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work, China is the biggest beneficiary to globaliseways, China

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wants global companies, and wants a population that is familiar with

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the world and at ease in the world, it can't be done that way. It is

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hard to see in an information age, how this strategic lock-down on of

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information can go on. Why bass dor is with me. When we think of a

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change at the top, we think of old people being swept away and new

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people coming in, this doesn't look like such a big deal to those

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outside the country. Has it been a big deal? It is a big deal in terms

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of China's future development with regard to this 18th Party Congress.

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I would say that it is significant because it elected new leadership.

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They will lead the country for the next five years and even beyond.

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This leadership are young and energetic, they are down to earth,

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they have a lot of experience in the grassroots, some of them even

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worked in the countryside in factories. And also, this Congress

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produced new blueprints for China for the next five years, or even

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beyond. That is to building China into a well-off society. The target

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is to double the GDP of 2010 by 2020. So within ten years you will

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double GDP? In ten years, not only double GDP, but also double the per

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capita income of the people. What about that specific point that the

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new leader made about corruption, which he knows really angers

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ordinary people. You have got to crack down on it, how will you do

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that and deliver? It will make most people even angrier if you don't

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within the five or ten years? think corruption is, you know, it

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is not a problem for China alone. Once you are in the period of

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social transformation, it is unavoidable that you have all kinds

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of problems. Just like it was said at the beginning of opening up of

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China, Liu Xianping said, when we open the window, we let in the

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fresh air, it is unavoidable that flies, mosquitoes will be in. But

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the important thing is how the party faces up to it. That they

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adopt measures to deal with this problem. I think the leadership is

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resolute and determined. Do you see things like the Internet as being

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like flies and mosquitoe, do you see it as a bit of irritation. From

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outside we don't understand what you are worried about when you want

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to control how people exchange information? I think there is a

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misconception about the Internet development in China. In fact, the

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Chinese are very open in terms of the internet, we have the most

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numbers of internet users in China today. But our correspondent

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couldn't get on Facebook in China, you can't go on Twitter, it is not

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quite as you present it? In China every day there are hundreds of

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thoiss of comments made by the -- thousands of comments made by the

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bloggers, 66% of Chinese users make comments on-line. It is up to the

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Government to regulate the users, also, in protection of the safety

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of the internet, to ensure that healthy content is available, and

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unhealthy content should be removed. But isn't that really up to

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ordinary people to decide? I mean, looking at the history of your

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country, you have had thousands of years of creativity, and we see

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creativity as based on the free exchange of information. Part of

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the reasons why people in the west think you are cracking down and

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being very hard on bloggers, is it is very difficult to do for some

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people, because you don't like certain ideas? If you are in China,

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and can get connected on the Internet, I think you can get all

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kinds of opinions, it is very open. Lots of things can be debated,

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economics, politics, cultural affairs. You have to have a big

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picture of the development of the internet back in China. Please stay

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with us, we want to pursue what you said at the start of our

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conversation, which is that China's vast economy means it is a supplier

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of manufactured goods to the world, it is also a customer for raw

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materials and a big invest to which, among other things, underpins the

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American economy. Would world role is China really trying to create

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for itself. In Syria and other countries, it traditionally calls

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for non-intervention. But China's huge investment in military power

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means America is reconfiguring its deployments in the Pacific, and

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Japan is worried about a confrontation over disputed islands.

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Here is Paul Mason again. They are five uninhabitable islands and

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three rocks, north of Taiwan. And even their name is disputed, but

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the dispute over the Sanseverino islands, has sparked tension on the

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high seas, demonstrations in China and political upheaval in Japan. It

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is supposed to be shadow boxing, but things can go wrong. Things can

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get out of control. It is not the policy of the Chinese Government to

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pick a fight with Japan. But at the operational levels, when the

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fishery protection vessels from China are sailing into Japanese

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waters. When Chinese aircraft are flying into the airspace of the

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Sanseverino islands, and the Chinese respond responds with

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fighter pilots and ships. There is the called pivot in Asia for the

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Americans, moving away from confrontation with North Korea, and

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boosting naval power where China has a growing strategic influence.

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There is a lot of uncertainty, are we a nation state or a 18th century

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land empire trying to be a nation state. What are our terms. Mostly

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they are too concerned about domestic issues, it is d domestic

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uncertainties, about maintaining growth, and many crises they have,

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to feel confident to play a major role in the world. It is likely

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that by 2020 China will become the world's biggest economy. But it is

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far from a global superpower. Up to now, it is focused on projecting

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soft power, bilateral trade, technology deals, into the places

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western power is either weak or has vacated.

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On meeting Mr Roosevelt, Mr Churchill's first act is to hand

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him a letter from the king. history, there is only one case

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study of the emergence of a new superpower. In the 1920s America

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gained a global reach, naval supremacy, and developed a world

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strategy. Chinese people are used now to the idea that America is

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declining and their country rising. But nobody really knows what China

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wants. Now, we don't know what China will look like when China

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will have finally risen. The Communist Party is very reticent in

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terms of articulating a vision of what it would like to see when

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China has finally risen. The Communist Party at the moment is

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focused on reassuring the rest of the world that there is nothing to

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fear. As it does become a global power, the vision China's leaders

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will offer the world is becoming clear. They see their country as

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essentially Confucian, paced on order, absolutism, and the absence

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of knockcy. The problem is, that involves writing off quite a bit of

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the 20th century in China, and quite a bit of contemporary reality.

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The China of strikes, youth culture, and dissident writing, does not

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looks a Confucian as its leaders would like it to. Can you help us

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with the main points, you may have an ambition of doubling the GDP by

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2020, as the world's biggest economy, what role does China want

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out of that? China certainly wants to play a role as a responsible

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country. We call ourselves the largest developing country with a

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global responsibility. We want to contribute to peace, and the

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stability of the world. We need a peaceful environment to develop our

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own country. Because you couldn't have that economic development

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without peace? That's right. And also China's peaceful development,

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in turn, would contribute to peace and prosperity of the world.

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Secondly, I think China's growth is a big contributer to the world

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economic growth. How does that square with what seems to be quite

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small problems that could be quite big problems. For instance, the

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potential of a conflict with Japan over a bunch of rocks in the sea?

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We would certainly like good relations with Japan. I know you

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are talking about the Diaoyu Islands, in fact, these islands

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belonged to China for centuries, since ancient times. You know

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that's not quite how the Japanese see it, that is what people are

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worried about? It was not until 1895, when China lost the first war

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with Japan, and Japan illegally seized the islands. It was in 1943,

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when I saw the picture of Churchill, Roosevelt and the meeting in Cairo,

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they issued the Cairo Declaration, in this Cairo Declaration, it

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declared in explicit terms that all territories seized by Japan from

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China, shall return to China without any conditions. Does that

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mean, briefly on that, does that mean you can resolve this

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peacefully, do you think? Of course. We want to resolve this peacefully

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with Japan. We hope that they will return to the consensus reached

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between the leaders of the two countries in 1975. 1982. One other

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issue in which China has had a role, which is the question of Syria,

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that has been controversial. We have President Putin saying we are

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not concerned of the fate of Assad's regime, is the Chinese

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Government concerned about Assad's regime? We are concerned about the

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fate of the Syrian people. It is up to the Syrian people to decide who

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will be their leaders. The reason why China opposed to some of the

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resolutions tabled by western countries, is because the

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resolutions called for regime change. Do you think it would be a

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bad thing if Assad went? No, I think it is up to the Syrian people.

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It wouldn't be a bad thing? If the Syrian people believe that is good

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for them, we will agree with them. It is not up to the Chinese to

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decide who is their leader and what kind of regime should be in place.

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It is up to the Syrian people. it not kind of obvious that most of

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the Syrian people want rid of him, and they would like help from

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outsiders, that is a problem, there are those who want to help in a

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certain way? It depends which Syrian people you are speaking to.

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Syria is in a civil war situation. You have opposition and those

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behind the Government. So the important thing is to bring the

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ceasefire, to immediately start the political transition process, I

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think, that's the most important thing. And stop the violence.

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of the big things that we in the west will have to get our heads

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around, was summerised by the British writer, Kipling, he said

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the east and west will never completely understand each other.

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Do you think that's true, in a way? I think there is a problem for

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western countries to understand China. I think, first, there is a

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strong bias against China, you know, when it comes to China, some people

:16:58.:17:06.

still are haunted by this Cold War mentality. They do not like the

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Communist Party, when they see China, they have the lens used to

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look through those issues. That prevents them from having a big

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picture of China. So, I do hope that we need more sense and

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sensibility, rather than Pride and Prejudice. To quote another famous

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English author. In terms of that, so much has changed, you talked

:17:36.:17:44.

about Dung Xiping, even that phrase doesn't sum up where China is going,

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it sounds like a very uncommunist, Communist Party. I think there is

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an and misunderstanding about the Chinese Communist Party, I think

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they still uphold the part of Chinese socialism. We call it a

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socialism with Chinese characteristics, it combines the

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Marxist theory with the conditions of China. I think the system suits

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China. It can deliver, it is successful, so why should we change

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this system, when it is still effective, and can still deliver

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benefits to its people, and welcomed by the people. We have

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been very clear on how we might misunderstand you, do you think you

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sometimes misunderstand us, which is, in saying that when we talk

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about the human rights issue, the Internet, and all those kinds of

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issues, which seem very important to us, it is not to beat China up

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about it, it is to suggest that you will be a more creative country if

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you had some of these things? welcome criticism. We welcome it,

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with a good intention. We don't think China is perfect, just like

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every country, there is much room to improve. But we are strongly

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opposed to interference into China's internal affairs, and to

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use human rights as a tool to change China's political system, to

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humiliate China, that is something we cannot accept. I just want to

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mention one thing, you know, how we have a different picture. Like the

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map mindly, you know, there is a mistake, there is a one important

:19:22.:19:28.

part of China missing, that is Taiwan. It is much bigger than the

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island. So the way Chinese code the territory is different. Perhaps you

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can come back and we can talk again about this. Thank you very much,

:19:37.:19:40.

ambassador. After the killing of 20 schoolchildren and six teachers at

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a school in Connecticut a week ago, America's extremely influential gun

:19:45.:19:48.

lobby remained largely silent until today. The National Rifle

:19:48.:19:51.

Association countered suggestions that the answer to gun crime might

:19:51.:19:58.

be tougher gun law, banning, armour-lights and Kalashnikov

:19:58.:20:03.

Assault Rifle, instead the NRA urged another solution. I call on

:20:03.:20:07.

Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is

:20:07.:20:17.
:20:17.:20:24.

necessary to put armed police officers at the. (no sound) I can

:20:24.:20:30.

speak now to a Democratic state representative in Missouri, with

:20:30.:20:34.

Republican state law makers are pushing for a law that would allow

:20:34.:20:38.

teachers to carry weapons in school. Can we begin with what the NRA are

:20:38.:20:41.

saying today, they seem to see the way forward to stop the killings of

:20:41.:20:46.

children in schools to have armed police in schools. That could work,

:20:46.:20:52.

couldn't it? You know it is a very scary proposition to me. I don't

:20:52.:20:55.

think that teachers and administrators who teach in schools,

:20:55.:20:59.

expect to have to learn how to utilise and carry a weapon. So, no,

:20:59.:21:03.

I don't think that's a good proposal that they are putting

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forward. I think to have security guards in each of our schools is

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really setting the wrong tone for what goes on in our schools. This

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was an act of a person who was mentally ill, and we are not going

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to expect to have security guards at every place in every school, in

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every restaurant, in every store, around our nation, to make it safer.

:21:24.:21:27.

The proliferation of guns and people with guns is not the

:21:27.:21:31.

solution here. The solution is to limit access to those weapons.

:21:31.:21:35.

Do you not worry, though, then, given your perspective on this,

:21:35.:21:39.

that it might happen any way, because people will be so desperate

:21:39.:21:43.

that they will say, well, look, maybe I don't like too many guns,

:21:43.:21:47.

but frankly, if it has to be a police officer, trained to use a

:21:47.:21:51.

weapon, at my child's school to protect my six-year-old, I will go

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along with it? I think at some schools we do have security

:21:56.:22:00.

personnel. Because of all kinds of reasons. If a school district

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chooses to go that direction, I think that's their option. But I

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think that you are going to find that school administrators,

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teachers, parents, don't think that their school districts, and their

:22:11.:22:15.

children's schools are the places that we need to have armed security

:22:15.:22:19.

guards. Instead, we need to make our communities safer by creating

:22:19.:22:22.

schools as community hubs, and making sure that neighbours are

:22:22.:22:25.

taking care of neighbours and watching out for each other and

:22:25.:22:28.

their children. I don't think this is the right solution. And I

:22:28.:22:32.

certainly don't think, yes, of course go ahead. Sorry to interrupt,

:22:32.:22:36.

but President Obama clearly thinks along the same lines as you, but we

:22:36.:22:41.

have seen over 30 years those who do find it difficult, if not

:22:41.:22:47.

impossible, do you have any faith that Obama can do it? You know, I'm

:22:47.:22:52.

hopeful. I think the nation is at a point where we are saying, look,

:22:52.:22:55.

this proliferation of guns, this granting of easier access to guns,

:22:55.:23:01.

to more and more people, is not working well for us as a nation. We

:23:01.:23:05.

have so many murders by and through gun use in this nation. We need to

:23:05.:23:08.

stop. We have been moving towards allowing more and more guns,

:23:08.:23:12.

because the NRA has such a strong and powerful lobby. It is time to

:23:12.:23:16.

pull back and say, assault weapons, and guns in the hands of all kinds

:23:16.:23:20.

of people, make them easily accessible, we need to pull back,

:23:20.:23:25.

we need to stop. We need to make sure that the people who do carry

:23:25.:23:28.

guns for security reasons, to protect their homes, or for hunting,

:23:29.:23:32.

that those people have been trained, that they have been registered,

:23:32.:23:36.

they have gone through a process, where we know that they are

:23:36.:23:39.

mentally stable, and that they are using these guns, for those

:23:39.:23:41.

purposes, and that they alone are using the guns.

:23:42.:23:45.

We will leave it there, thank you very much.

:23:45.:23:52.

Now, while the Arabic system of numbers produced algebra, calculus,

:23:52.:23:57.

decimals, and modern mathematics, up to main frame computers, astro

:23:57.:24:02.

fistics and the iPod. The Mayan system, based on the number 20,

:24:02.:24:05.

produced the news, so we are told, that today of the end of the world.

:24:05.:24:08.

It would be understandable if panic had ensued across the globe,

:24:08.:24:13.

considering what could have been, we sent Steve Smith out to

:24:13.:24:18.

investigate the action on the promise that today might be his

:24:18.:24:23.

last day at work! How are you getting on with your advent

:24:23.:24:28.

calendar, the Mayans, a far-sighted people, have one going for 5,000

:24:28.:24:32.

years. Now their ancient book of days has at last come to an end.

:24:32.:24:38.

What those it portend, that is what they are wondering in Guatemala,

:24:38.:24:43.

and around the globe. Is it just the turning of a wheel, one cycle

:24:43.:24:50.

surrounding another. Or is it, as some have predicted, the end times,

:24:50.:25:00.
:25:00.:25:01.

the rapttuer, the final reckoning for mankind. Can this be right? The

:25:01.:25:09.

world might end today, one last day on the planet. What will I do? I

:25:09.:25:15.

will probably just get on with my work, it is my true legacy. Mind

:25:15.:25:21.

you, this isn't a time to think about one's self, maybe volunteers.

:25:21.:25:28.

What the? Yes, lovely noise. condemned man ate a hearty meal. If

:25:28.:25:33.

this really is last orders, the man I want on the skillet is Antonio

:25:33.:25:40.

Carluccio. What goes well with an apocalypse? Some truffles. For the

:25:40.:25:46.

end of the world? Obviously, what time is it? We have a few minutes.

:25:46.:25:56.
:25:56.:25:59.

We are all right for a little while. They are translated "ugly but

:25:59.:26:06.

good"! I have heard that a few times. Wonderful. Wonderful

:26:06.:26:14.

Parmesan, fresh. Now you go with this here. These are truffle

:26:15.:26:18.

shavings?. Now we wait for the end of the world. Cheers. Cheers, thank

:26:18.:26:22.

you very much. People came to this corner of the

:26:22.:26:26.

French Pyrenees today, not to hunt truffles, but in hopes of being

:26:27.:26:33.

spared. Some believe this lonely village is cursed with a name no-

:26:33.:26:39.

one dare say out loud, because of an alien connection. That's right,

:26:39.:26:44.

extraterrestrials have reportedly garageed an escape vehicle inside

:26:44.:26:52.

this mountain. This is only an artist's impression

:26:52.:26:58.

of how the spacecraft Mike exit the peak.

:26:58.:27:03.

They all want to go there today to see the thing open up and the

:27:03.:27:10.

spaceship. Wonderful. What do you think about that? Shall I tell you?

:27:10.:27:17.

Yes if it is clean. BEEP! # Don't say no

:27:17.:27:22.

# It's the end of the world Thinkers, musicians and comedians,

:27:22.:27:29.

put on a show in London tonight. Inspired by the excitement over the

:27:29.:27:32.

Mayan calendar. Brian we're so delighted to catch up with you, you

:27:32.:27:35.

are the first credible scientist we have found, who believes in this

:27:35.:27:41.

Mayan prophesy? Well, let's be specific. Have I got it right, or

:27:41.:27:46.

is my research faulty for once? used the Mayan prophesy to sell out

:27:46.:27:50.

this venue. Believe is too strong, it is utter nonsense. It is true,

:27:50.:27:56.

if you look back at all the major religions, there is an apocalyptic

:27:56.:27:59.

component, Revelations in the Bible. There is something about the end of

:27:59.:28:03.

the world prophesis, end times, that seems to be universal. It is

:28:03.:28:06.

present in most religions and cultures. I think it is just, it

:28:07.:28:11.

must be that part of the human condition is to be concerned about

:28:11.:28:17.

these momentous events, and prophesis. Maybe there is a spark

:28:17.:28:22.

in some people's mind, I was going to say a chink of light, but it is

:28:22.:28:26.

darkness. Here we are, getting on for 11.00pm, in the UK, looks like

:28:27.:28:32.

we made it, or have we? In mox co- at the moment the sun hasn't come

:28:32.:28:36.

up -- in Mexico at the moment, the sun hasn't come up yet, maybe it

:28:36.:28:43.

never will. That's all folkss! We have a minute

:28:43.:28:47.

now to go to the Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza in Mexico, and joined

:28:47.:28:52.

by our correspondent, helping to organise a big end of the world

:28:52.:28:56.

party. Are you disappointed that the party might be good but the end

:28:56.:29:04.

of the world clearly isn't happening? N't I think you asked me

:29:04.:29:10.

was I disappointed about the end of the world? I'm actually very, very

:29:10.:29:15.

more excited that I'm here and celebrating with everyone this time,

:29:15.:29:20.

this new beginning, this new era, where we all get to come together

:29:20.:29:23.

as humanity and connect intimately and move forward together. So, I

:29:23.:29:32.

take it you bought a return ticket, then? What's that? I take it that

:29:32.:29:35.

if you didn't think it was going to be the end of the world, you

:29:35.:29:45.
:29:45.:29:45.

probably bought a return ticket, rather than a single? Yeah, I'm

:29:45.:29:50.

sorry, I'm really just enjoying myself here, really enjoi joying

:29:50.:29:54.

connecting with people. It is very -- injoying connecting with people,

:29:54.:29:57.

it is difficult for me to hear. Thank you very much, I will take

:29:57.:30:02.

that as a no then. That's all for Newsnight at 2012, we will return

:30:02.:30:05.

in the beginning of January, we will leave you with a glimpse of

:30:05.:30:08.

this channel's Christmas schedule. Carols from King's College in

:30:08.:30:13.

Cambridge, can be seen at 6.15 on BBC Two. From all of us here, happy

:30:13.:30:23.
:30:23.:30:52.

# If I were a wise man # I would do my part

:30:52.:31:02.
:31:02.:31:08.

# Yet what I can I give him # Give him my heart

:31:08.:31:18.
:31:18.:31:29.

Good evening, some more severe weather to come through tonight,

:31:29.:31:32.

with flooding rains, potentially, and widespread warnings for heavy

:31:32.:31:36.

rain from the Met Office. There are particular areas we are especially

:31:36.:31:39.

concerned about, south western parts of England. South Wales,

:31:39.:31:42.

Yorkshire and also eastern Scotland. For all of us it will be really

:31:42.:31:45.

very wet, I think there could be flooding in just about any part.

:31:45.:31:49.

The rivers will rise quite rapidly, because the water, the ground,

:31:49.:31:54.

rather, is so waterlogged already. The winds also feature, picking up

:31:55.:32:01.

to strong-to-gale force, they have been buffeting Scotland for a few

:32:01.:32:05.

days, causing widespread disruption to the ferries and up to storm

:32:05.:32:13.

force on Saturday. Snow over the mountain, more snow will melt as

:32:13.:32:16.

the -- milder air arrives. There could be surface flooding just

:32:16.:32:20.

about everywhere. It will be a very wet and windy spell during the day

:32:20.:32:25.

on Saturday. It's not just the UK affected by that wet weather either,

:32:25.:32:35.
:32:35.:32:44.

Following the recent leadership handover in China, what can we expect from the new people in charge. In a rare interview, Newsnight speaks live to the Chinese Ambassador to the UK. Plus, guns in schools in America and the end of the world.


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