He remarked that the governance software is flawed, with people increasingly dissatisfied with administrative performance leading to a jump in social unrest. “The truth is though administrative performance has improved there is greater social expectation about the ability of the government to deliver. The Chinese people travel abroad and see things, and question why their government is not as efficient.”
He said despite China’s economic growth, it is very hard to improve the income of those below the poverty line, causing China to have one of the highest income inequalities in the world. “To increase the Chinese government’s effectiveness in reaching the poorest population is by making the government more accountable,” he stated, adding that the accountability of the government to perform can be increased through open elections, free Press, and independent judiciary.
As for power supply failures, Woo told that “there cannot be a harmonious society within China if there is no harmonious world outside China”. He feared we are in the threshold of a Trade War due to escalating US-China trade tensions, with proposals within US for anti-subsidy tariffs and import surcharge on Chinese goods, and accusations that China’s trade surpluses caused the US financial market meltdown.
“The atmosphere is ripe for protectionism because of China’s fast climb and inadequate US social safety net to meet high labour turnover,” he informed. China is now the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and its refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol can be used as an excuse to impose tariffs on China’s goods to get it to reduce its emission.
He said China needs to reduce its trade surplus while the US its trade deficit and labour problems. He wants China to be a responsible stakeholder and employ diplomatic efforts to collaboratively resolve issues relating to the environment and its imports.
During Q&A, Woo said among the causes for international concern over China’s growth is its strong support for North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear developments, and the huge trade imbalance. “You cannot get rich and not help to have a peaceful world. Its thoughtless actions cause international suspicion of how China will behave.”
Among those who attended the lecture organised by SERI were Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong, WEF chairman Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap, Malaysian-American Electronics Industry chairman Dato’ Wong Siew Hai, SERI chairman Dato’ Dr Sharom Ahmat and WOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng.