21/12/2012 Newsnight


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


of the 21st century, the rise of China.


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


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


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


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


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


call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever


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


this nation. The National Rifle Association give


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


children, and six staff, in a Connecticut school.


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


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


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


with the end of the world? Some truffles.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the Chinese Government, or its spokes people to give broadcast


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


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


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


witnessed in changing China over the last year.


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


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


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


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


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


have got to keep on board a population that is noticably


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


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


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


demand will be very interesting. The outgoing leader himself told


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


and agress the grievances of 150 million migrant workers. Nowhere


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


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


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


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


seem very relevant that its internet was censureed and


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


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


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


work, China is the biggest beneficiary to globaliseways, China


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


new leader made about corruption, which he knows really angers


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


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


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


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


social transformation, it is unavoidable that you have all kinds


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


numbers of internet users in China today. But our correspondent


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


means America is reconfiguring its deployments in the Pacific, and


Japan is worried about a confrontation over disputed islands.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


fishery protection vessels from China are sailing into Japanese


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


Sanseverino islands, and the Chinese respond responds with


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


Americans, moving away from confrontation with North Korea, and


boosting naval power where China has a growing strategic influence.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


western power is either weak or has vacated.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


country. We call ourselves the largest developing country with a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


declared in explicit terms that all territories seized by Japan from


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


resolutions tabled by western countries, is because the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


ceasefire, to immediately start the political transition process, I


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


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


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


the east and west will never completely understand each other.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


an and misunderstanding about the Chinese Communist Party, I think


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


socialism with Chinese characteristics, it combines the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


lobby remained largely silent until today. The National Rifle


Association countered suggestions that the answer to gun crime might


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


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


Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is


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


speak now to a Democratic state representative in Missouri, with


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


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


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


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


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


think that teachers and administrators who teach in schools,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The proliferation of guns and people with guns is not the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


think that you are going to find that school administrators,


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


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


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


schools as community hubs, and making sure that neighbours are


taking care of neighbours and watching out for each other and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


purposes, and that they alone are using the guns.


We will leave it there, thank you very much.


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


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


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


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


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


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


investigate the action on the promise that today might be his


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


you very much. People came to this corner of the


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


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


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


extraterrestrials have reportedly garageed an escape vehicle inside


this mountain. This is only an artist's impression


of how the spacecraft Mike exit the peak.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


with flooding rains, potentially, and widespread warnings for heavy


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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