Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lecture on China

This evening, James L. Loi, visiting fellow with the Freeman Chair in China Studies, and Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State department, gave a lecture for the Banners series titled "What in the World Is Happening in China?" Mr. Loi's work has focused on relations with China since 2002.

Mr. Loi is a thoughtful and articulate man, and he gave an enjoyable and enlightening lecture. In light of his position, I understand why he only faintly alluded to human rights violations. Yet he did discuss the yawning gap between the wealthy city dwellers and the poor peasants, and China's pollution problem.

When a questioner highlighted the human rights problem he did address it, and came down on the side of trying to influence China to improve its record.

In the knot of people who gathered around him after the lecture, it was curious to note how many people wanted to talk about China's environmental problem. This seems a bit odd. Why so much concern about smog when there are work camps, executions, torture (well, I guess America is now for torture), and lack of religious freedom? It doesn't add up to me.

Aside, though I have not researched this myself, I understand evidence supports the proposition that economic development often aids environmental conservation and remediation.

I'll be pondering all of this.

As always, the Banners series attracts interesting speakers and does a lot to enrich our little community. It is great to see such an effort work so well. You meet the most interesting people there too. I'm marking my calendar for "Zydeco, Mardi Gras and Trail Rides" (April 1st), "Eisnstein's Jewish Science" (April 15th), and "Inventing Vietnam: Lessons in Nation Building from a Forgotten Example" (April 29th).

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