I very much enjoyed Prof Spence's third Reith lecture, American Dreams.
My favourite bit is the way he ended his lecture, quoting Chinese mass English teacher Li Yang’s slogan, "Conquer English to Make China Stronger!”
Yes, his is no ordinary English teacher who teaches a class that can only be smaller than the legal size – and the general consensus is that the smaller the class the better the teaching/learning.
Li routinely teaches in arenas, to classes of ten thousand Chinese people or more! Why? To overcome the fear of opening one’s mouth.
As the slogan is just an abstraction, it has been subject to many interpretations. Some Western media have associated it with “Chinese nationalism” and so on.
My feel is that it is only an expression of the Chinese enthusiasm to learn and improve their English communication skills – a precondition for many who are planning to come to the US to realise their American dreams.
But I doubt that every American would be happy to agree with me.
During the Q&A of the lecture, two people from the audience raised essentially the same question. One was the former US ambassador to the UN, if I am correct, who asked Prof Spence about his view on whether China’s astonishing rise would inevitably lead to her attacking the US one day. The other was an American school parent, who described a situation where her little son once suddenly asked her the question: “Is China going to attack us?” And she asked Prof Spence about how to answer it.
I felt that Prof Spence did not answer the two questions to my satisfaction. In other words, I guess that the two questioners’ concerns have remained with them.
Not only so, having listened to the lecture, many many more Americans will begin to ask the same question. But where is the answerer?
I have opened this thread with the end to explore with you guys, hoping to find a more informed answer to this grand question: “Will China attack the US?” – Possibly the most important question of the 21st century.
My gut feeling is that our answer or even reaction to this question will determine the future shape of the relations between China and the US, which in turn, as the former US ambassador to the UN has suggested at the recording studio, will be impacting the whole world – given the size (whatever that may be) of the two countries.
So, come on and join this debate!