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Image of Photograph of Rt Hon Lord O'Neill

The Sino-Western détente

The China Centre lecture on Wednesday 16 June 2021 was delivered by The Rt Hon Lord O'Neill, Chair of Chatham House and former Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, HMG.

Lord O'Neill's lecture addressed the possibilities for cooperation between China and the West at a crucial juncture in world history. He examined the wide range of areas in which the West and China could benefit from deeper mutual understanding and cooperation, including the prevention of pandemics, financial system regulation and combating climate change. He emphasised that the different component parts of the relationship needed to be brought together in a comprehensive relationship in order to ensure a mutually beneficial outcome.

Jim O'Neill observed that China is already making an important contribution within the institutions of global governance. He noted the rapidly increasing integration of China's capital markets with those in the West, to the mutual benefit of both systems. He emphasised the role that China's huge and fast-growing savings would play in the long-run development of global financial markets.

Lord O'Neill drew attention to the fears in the USA of China replacing it as the world's largest economy and the international relations challenges involved in the end of US global hegemony. However, he stressed that the optimistic outlook for global growth in the coming decade provided a positive economic environment in which to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation between China and the West.

The Q&A session included: discussion of the US-China trade deficit; US foreign investment in China; the role of renewable energy in China's development; the role of Chinese consumers within the structure of global demand; the extent to which China's expanding role in the global economy might benefit the rest of the world; the possibilities for cooperation in meeting health needs; and the role of China in the global financial system.

Lord Jim O’Neill is Chair of Chatham House. His previous roles include, joint head of research at Goldman Sachs (1995–2000), its chief economist (2001–10) and chairman of its asset management division (2010–13); creator of the acronym BRIC; chair of the City Growth Commission (2014); chair of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance [AMR] (2014-16); and commercial secretary to the Treasury (2015-16). He is a board member, and one of the founding trustees of educational charity SHINE. 

He recently joined a new EU/WHO Commission on COVID-19.

Lord O’Neill was created a life peer in 2015, and serves as a crossbench member of the House of Lords.

He is an honorary professor of economics at the University of Manchester, and holds honorary degrees from the University of Sheffield, University of Manchester, University of London and from City University London. He received his PhD from the University of Surrey and is now a Visiting Professor there.

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