Head to Head

What is the human cost to China’s economic miracle?

Mehdi Hasan challenges Charles Liu on China’s economic and human rights record.

In this episode of Head to Head, Mehdi Hasan challenges Charles Liu, senior fellow at Peking University, seasoned Chinese entrepreneur and informal adviser to the Chinese government, on Xi Jinping’s record in power so far, the government’s crackdown on the Uighur Muslim minority, and what role for China if it becomes the 21st century’s military and economic superpower.

With the presidential term limit abolished in 2018, critics say that Chinese President Xi Jinping appears to be paving the way to being able to stay in power for life, but Charles Liu, founder of Hao Capital, disputes this. Separately, despite lower-than-predicted growth, China is still growing substantially and is set to become the world’s biggest economy.

China has one military outpost, the US has 800.

by Charles Liu

But the economic boom has been paired with an increase in state surveillance and crackdowns on dissent, as well as the repression of the Muslim Uighur minority. So, at what cost has China’s economic miracle come? And what’s the future for civil liberties of the Chinese people?

In recent years, China has also increased its military spending while some Chinese officials have been ratcheting up their militaristic rhetoric, raising fears of direct military confrontation with the United States.

On this Head to Head episode filmed at the Oxford Union, we challenge Charles Liu on all these topics, ask him whether the Chinese economy has hit a wall, and whether China’s neighbours should dismiss their fears as his country builds up its military and extends its global reach.

We are joined by a panel of three experts:

  • Andreas FuldaChina specialist at Asia Research Institute and assistant professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham.
  • Victor Gao – Vice president of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization and former interpreter for the late President Deng Xiaoping.
  • Steve Tsang – Professor and director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

What is the human cost to China’s economic miracle?, with Charles Liu, will be broadcast on March 15 at 20:00 GMT and will be repeated on March 16 at 12:00 GMT, March 17 at 01:00GMT and March 18 at 06:00 GMT.

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Head to Head is Al Jazeera’s forum for ideas, a gladiatorial contest tackling big issues such as faith, nationalism, democracy and foreign intervention, in front of an opinionated audience at the Oxford Union.