‘How do Dutch millennials view China’s rise?’
That was the central question of the China College Tour this spring. After lively discussions at universities all over the Netherlands, we presented the outcomes of the China College Tour to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 10.
Interactive and personal
At the interactive sessions, co-organised by Krijger & Partners, universities and student organisations and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we discussed issues such as:
– The two faces of China: techno-economic genius or command and control system?
– Understanding the giant: culture, politics and the innovative economy in China.
The personal experiences presented by students of Netherlands-Asia Honours Summer School were especially insightful. In addition, there were keynotes by Kathleen Ferrier, Xiaojia Xu, Ties Dams, Friso Stevens, Michiel Ebbing, Rene Cuperus and Ardi Bouwers. Their presentations formed the basis for questions and discussion.
Lack of knowledge
The most important overall conclusion was that millennials are very curious about what’s happening in China, but find they lack in-depth knowledge of that rapidly changing country. History lessons that focus on Europe and the western world, for example, tend to create a fear of China, instead of arousing curiosity (as a Dutch saying goes: ‘Unknown makes unloved’). Participating students were adament that both in secondary and higher education, more attention should be paid to China to fill this knowledge gap.
Curious, but critical
The China-debate should be broad, they say, and focus on values (both Dutch/European and Chinese), trade, innovation, climate, sustainability, privacy and cyber-security. So let’s not narrow it down to a struggle between merchant (‘koopman’) and preacher (‘dominee’). The conclusion? The millennial generation will face the challenge of a rising China and they want to adopt a curious, but critical attitude.
Krijger & Partners and China Circle decided to establish Young China Circle, a platform that wants to continue the China debate and secure the highly necessary input of millennials. All contributors to the China College Tour will be actively involved in this initiative.
Stay tuned for new ideas, sessions and exchanges!