Articles by Peter Mandelson on the GC Blog and GC analysis
For a very powerful head of a huge and centrally controlled nation, President Xi Jinping of China has a remarkably relaxed air about him. He exudes composure, in public at least.
UK: Global Counsel Chairman Peter Mandelson interviews a special guest - Director of the London School of Economics, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Dame Minouche Shafik - on the topic of trust in institutions, economics and labour market.
WORLD: Global Counsel Chairman Peter Mandelson discusses how businesses and governments can navigate risks amid the current global trade crisis.
In a new joint report, Carlos Gutierrez, Co-Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, and Peter Mandelson, Chair of Global Counsel, warn business leaders that in the current crisis in the international trading system, companies and investors will need to develop new tools to safely navigate and mitigate risks. They urge business leaders to become more effective in advocating for open trade and investment policies with their home governments and in developing and executing their own corporate foreign policies.
I call it the Neil Sedaka question. Whenever I am in California, the conversation soon turns to whether, for the FANGs, in Sedaka’s words, “breaking up is hard to do”? This issue has US tech entrepreneurs, corporates and investors in a state of high anxiety. This is no surprise. The legacy of Europe’s Microsoft investigation in the 2000s and the IBM remedies in the 1980s have left a deep impression on the US tech community.
I have been in China again, this time as president of the Great Britain-China Centre, flying the flag at the UK-China Leadership Forum. This is an annual event at which representatives of Britain’s political parties exchange views with China’s communist party. The delegation was led by Theresa May’s able number two, David Liddington, and I was the senior Labour man (hope this doesn’t upset its leader, Jeremy Corbyn). A recurrent question of the week was how ‘global Britain’ will come to terms with a world in which China is becoming preeminent.
At the China Entrepreneurs Conference in Yabuli last week (see my previous blog for reflections), the theme was 40 years of reform and opening up of China’s economy. Earlier in the week, news seeped out that China’s two-term leadership rule was about to be scrapped, allowing Xi Jinping to stay in power beyond 2023. Commentary flooded the international media, but participants at Yabuli were strangely silent on the issue. This led me to think about the role that political leadership has played in the transformation of China over the last 40 years, and what the Chinese think of their current leader.
Most Davos regulars will not know of the town of Yabuli, a remote town in northern China closer to Vladivostok than Beijing. But, having spent much of last week trekking to and from Yabuli, I have realised both towns have something in common. I was there to attend the annual China Entrepreneurs Forum (think the World Economic Forum but with no politicians or NGOs). Yabuli has less of the old-world charm of the Swiss Alps, it is located in the province of Heilongjiang (think industrial rust-belt rather than cuckoo clocks) but both are high-end ski resorts, a long drive from the nearest airport and both events are full of rather self-congratulatory chatter.
Inequalities are increasing amongst people in Europe and the US; this is having a profound impact on politics, creating resentments and instability; and this is impacting the way in which policymakers see China. It is putting trade and investment relations with China under closer scrutiny. This is creating a more complicated environment for Chinese businesses in Europe and the US.
During a trip to Chicago earlier this month, I reflected on the differences between my time in office and the present. Despite economic gains from globalisation, failures in politics and in policy have led to a crisis of confidence in global cooperation. This has made the identity-based, pessimistic politics promoted by populists more attractive. But it also poses a challenge to the centre left and the centre right as they try to reset their policies and appeal to the moderate majority of citizens.