By Peter Emeson (The de Borda Institute)
In 2008, aged 65, I started to learn Chinese. Five years later, on my first lecture tour in China, I addressed a conference in Xuzhou, and one thing led to another. I have now conducted four three-month lecture tours in China, the most recent two travelling overland, teaching in universities/institutes in (Sarajevo, Tbilisi, Tehran, Moscow), Beijing, Hong Kong, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Taipei, Tianjin and Zunyi.
It has not always been plain sailing: my 2018 lecture scheduled for Anyang University was suddenly cancelled, with no explanation given; but at the time, the CCP was declaring Xi Jinping to be president for life, the atmosphere was palpable, and no-one was going to risk a lecture, by a foreigner, on democracy!
So, back to the positive, and on my most recent 2019-20 tour, along with book launches in Xuzhou, Taipei and Hong Kong, I demonstrated electronic preference voting, (the students all using the ‘de Borda’ software on their very smart phones, VPN or no VPN, no problem). Then, bingo – the Chinese word for the virus is 病毒 bìngdú – the tour was terminated, so my next endeavour was a zoom from my Belfast home at the invitation of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a 10-minute video at their international six-day conference on Democracy – Shared Human Values held ‘in’ Beijing in December.
And here it is: