Shadow Assistant Treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh MP and defence analyst Professor Hugh White, together with scholars from the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU launched the 2015 China Story Yearbook at Parliament House this week.
The 2015 China Story Yearbook explores pollution in all its forms – from land degradation to spiritual contamination.
In launching the book Professor White gave an urgent message to the audience;
“We’ve been talking about China’s rise for so long we forget…how big it us for all of us.”
“It’s never been so important for Australia to understand another culture as it for us to understand China. China is going through one of the biggest, scariest and most complex transformations the world has seen,” said Professor White.
Professor White went on to compare China’s rise to Britain’s Industrial Revolution in the late 18th and early 18th century.
“The Industrial Revolution brought fundamental changes to society, changes like urbanisation and mass education. It changed the nature of work and the nature of politics,” Professor White said.
“It’s easy to say how much we gained from modernity, such as prosperity and political systems.”
“But it’s also very important to remember what we lost – we lost the sense of community that came from living in villages, we lost the sense of living in nature… we lost the sense of working with our hands, we lost the sense of hierarchy and harmony that came with traditional social structures and we lost the sense of a relatively simple moral code,” Professor White said.
The changes happening in China are happening in a more powerful and greater way, Professor White told the audience.
“In the context of China we’re trying to understand the industrial revolution on a much bigger, faster scale with more dimensions such as emerging technologies”.
“There’s a lot to understand – changes in society, economics, politics and technology but you don’t just arrive to these big things and find the answer, you need to dig down in the details, get something of the texture and understand what it’s really like to be there…. This book is a little treasure box of stories that helps us better understand change”.
“We are going to have to deal with a China much more on its own terms and to do that we’re going to have to understand it a whole lot better - which is what books just like this do,” Professor White said.
Co-Editor and Associate Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World, Dr Luigi Tomba said the book is an attempt to make sense of multiple narratives – rather than provide just one.
“The aim of the book is to explain and explore complexities rather than reducing the complexities,” said Dr Tomba.
The China Story Yearbook is available for free download at the ANU Press website.
Image: (left to right) Luigi Tomba, Rebecca Fabrizi, Andrew Leigh MP, Hugh White, Jane Golley, Benjamin Penny