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Baron Heseltine: China has seen a comprehensive change in every direction over last 70 years

By Wang Yisan, Yang Bo, Bai Tianxing (People's Daily Online)    11:23, September 26, 2019

It's difficult to single out an individual achievement over the 70 years since the People's Republic of China was founded, as the nation has seen a comprehensive change in every direction, said Baron Heseltine, former UK Deputy Prime Minister, in a recent interview with People's Daily Online.

"It's difficult to single out just one achievement because it's been such a comprehensive change in every direction so far. We all know about the economic transformation, from what was frankly a rather backward feudal agricultural economy to a space-age economy, which, in technological terms and spread of welfare, is the fastest and most dramatic change in the human condition of which I have any knowledge," said Heseltine, "but it's also a much more open society."

Baron Heseltine

Baron Heseltine is a British politician and businessman. He first entered the Cabinet in 1979 as Secretary of State for the Environment, where he promoted the "Right to Buy" campaign that allowed two million families to purchase their council houses. He later went on to become the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State.

Heseltine has been coming to China for years. “I was around and heard the [reform and opening up] plans in the 1970s, Chinese people were quite specific to me about what is going to happen. In the west, it wouldn’t work. There were different governments and things change. But in China, things didn’t change,“ he said, noting that there is a strategy clearly followed through and implemented, which is incredible.

He explained that when he first met Chinese people, he couldn't discuss anything politically sensitive. "Now, you can. People will talk. They all have ideas. Millions of Chinese people come here [the UK] every year, and you can have a totally open conversation."

On China's growing global influence, Heseltine explained that the rest of the world needed to understand the complexity of the world in which China is so important a part, and vice versa. "That's the ability to be respected and influence people based on that respect as opposed to the use of political, economic or military muscle," he said.

He noted that China has a future of extraordinary potential. "I hope they use [their potential] in China's best interest, but also in the interests of a peaceful cooperating world and that China can grow into its new role as a world power, which is a bigger role than just being China." he said.

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