Farnham Literary Festival: Ian Williams
In conversation with author Ian Williams
‘China’s global ambitions have taken a dangerous new turn. Under Xi Jinping, bullying and intimidation have replaced diplomacy, and trade, investment, even big-spending tourists and students are used as a means of coercion. Beijing has strengthened its alliance with Vladimir Putin, supporting Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The Chinese Communist Party has built a surveillance state at home, the likes of which has not been seen before, and brooks no criticism of its flagrant human rights violations in Hong Kong and against the Uyghur population in western China.
Western leaders say they don’t want a cold war with China, but it’s a little too late for that. Beijing is already waging a more complex, broader and more dangerous cold war than the old one with the Soviet Union. And it is intensifying. The new cold war has many fronts – from Taiwan and the South China Sea to the Indian frontier, the Arctic and cyberspace. Western democracies for decades convinced themselves that China’s rise was benign. How can they best react to the chilling new realities of geo-politics?’
Ian Williams is a former foreign correspondent for Channel 4 News and America’s NBC News in Russia (1992–1995) and then Asia (1995–2016). He was based first in Moscow, and then Hong Kong, Bangkok and Beijing. He has travelled and worked extensively in China, and has also covered conflicts in the Balkans, the Middle East and Ukraine. He will be interviewed by crime author and former journalist Ava Glass.