Campus News

Founders’ Day Lecture focuses on internal challenges facing China

China, with the world’s fourth largest economy and the highest population of any country, will have its greatest challenge in the future dealing with internal issues, according to Clifton W. Pannell, UGA emeritus professor.

Pannell, who was a UGA faculty member for more than 34 years, spoke Jan. 25 at the Founders’ Day Lecture, a celebration of the  222nd anniversary of UGA’s  founding. The title of Pannell’s lecture was “The China Challenge: Outlook for the 21st Century.”

“What I propose is to focus on China and its internal development and to look at the challenges that China faces from within,” Pannell said.

China has struggled in recent years in many arenas, according to Pannell. Pollution problems, landscape degradation, agricultural issues, social inequality and an imbalanced population pyramid are factors contributing to internal issues China will face in the future. The economy of China is growing and has had remarkable results from developing its export-oriented economy, he noted, but labor issues are rising. Also, development has polluted the land and air in many areas.

Discussing all of these issues and how they came about, Pannell hypothesized that the outcome of China’s future will be based on how China handles these and other issues.

“At the end of the day—or in this case, the end of the century—the key factor will be how the Chinese deal with their own challenges internally to determine what kind of China emerges,” Pannell said.

China’s political system requires reform in order to allow the country to deal with and flourish through the trials ahead with the economy, environment and population. Without political change, the outlook for the future is not good, according to Pannell. 

Thomas W. Ganschow, retired associate professor of history, spoke after Pannell, citing several personal experiences in China that demonstrated his agreement with Pannell about the need for political change. Yi Lee, a doctoral student, spoke about the many opportunities that UGA offers for study abroad. He urged undergraduates to take advantage of  international education, especially in China, as a way to enrich understanding on a global scale and the educational experience.