The University Student Center Ballroom was packed during the Conference on World Affairs. Photo courtesy of Joy Powell/Connect.
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St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs: China enters the arena

For decades, the U.S. has dominated the international scene in everything from markets to movies. But, in recent years, another country has grown into a potential competitor: China.

Scott Brown, William Dowell, Ann Morrison, Marguerite Moritz and Allison Quatrini spoke at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs for the panel “China: let’s rule the world together” on Feb. 13.

The University Student Center Ballroom was packed during the Conference on World Affairs. Photo courtesy of Joy Powell/Connect.

The University Student Center Ballroom was packed during the Conference on World Affairs. Photo courtesy of Joy Powell/Connect.

The panel compared and contrasted China with the U.S. in terms of environmental policy, advancements in technology, government, the status of the press and even differences in handshakes.

Dowell, a former Time magazine foreign correspondent, explained that Americans typically shake hands strongly and firmly as a sign of power. The Chinese take a different view.

“If you have power, why would you reveal that power to anyone else?” Dowell asked.

However, these differences and others are what the panel said that ultimately gives China its advantages and abilities to thrive.

The panel discussed another highly populated country in Asia that has not yet replicated all of China’s successes: India. Morrison, a former editor of Fortune magazine, has noticed many comparisons being made between the two countries in terms of their growth and progress. She believes one of the causes for disparities between them is their forms of government.

China is not a democracy but India is. Morrison said that change within democracies can take years or even decades to happen, but under communism, change happens when the government decides for it to happen.

Morrison recalled once that while she was riding a taxi in China, the driver suddenly stopped the car in confusion. He explained that the reason he had stopped in the road was that it didn’t exist the day before. It had to have been constructed entirely overnight.

“Democracy is messy,” Morrison said. “In China, you get things done.”

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