Guanghua EMBA Students Dialogue with Former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron


(Oxford and Cambridge Club, UK) July 24, 2017- As part of the PKU Guanghua Executive MBA (EMBA) Global Immersion Program, Dean Qiao Liu & Professor Zheng Zhang from Guanghua School of Management led 45 executives sat down with former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, for an insightful dialogue on the state of the UK, leadership and global affairs.

The Global Immersion Program is an overseas study trip designed to explore trends in the global economy. Guanghua offers over 10 modules to EMBA students in 8 different countries each year, including the United States, UK, Germany and Japan. This module explored UK’s challenges and opportunities under the context of Brexit.

After the brief introduction from Dean Qiao Liu, Mr. Cameron opened his talk by discussing the importance of the China-UK relationship. “I’m proud to be a Prime Minister who really prioritized the relationship between Britain and China,” Mr. Cameron remarked. He described the relationship between the two countries as a “strong and meaningful partnership” and emphasized China’s rise on the global stage as the “big story of this century.”

What is the relationship based on? Mr. Cameron noted that openness and trade has served as the foundation of the China-UK relationship. In fact, Mr. Cameron boasted that Britain has been China’s “most passionate partner in the West.” He particularly cited Britain’s openness to Chinese investment in traditionally difficult areas, including the Heathrow Airport and Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station projects.

Further, Mr. Cameron emphasized the strong partnership between China and the UK. The two countries have worked together on the first RMB bond outside of China, which was launched in London, as well as collaborated on issues such as technology and climate change. “There was a genuine sense of partnership and it was based on a British view that the rise of China was inevitable and we should try to have a cooperative relationship with China,” Mr. Cameron said.

While Mr. Cameron assured that the China and UK relationship will remain strong, he found it important to explain the uncertainty currently marking the West. While China has a clear plan, Cameron remarked, “in the West over the last year we’ve perhaps looked a little bit less certain about the direction we’re going on.” Brexit and the election of Donald Trump are two consequences of that uncertainty. A large part of this uncertainty surrounds people’s attitude towards globalization. Mr Cameron explained that while globalization had been good for the economy, some people had been left behind and were skeptical about the rapid pace of change.

Yet he fiercely defended globalization and remained optimistic. He believes that a more inclusive economic development model and facing issues ‘head on’ is what governments must do to ‘course-correct’ in response to uncertainty.

The Dialogue 

 After Mr. Cameron’s remarks, Dean Qiao LIU sat down with him for a brief dialogue and questions from Guanghua’s EMBA students.


Below are a round-up of the most interesting ones:


Brexit  & the Future of UK-EU Relations

While Mr. Cameron opposed Brexit, he does feel that there can be a bright future for Britain’s relationship with the European Union. He described that future as Britain being a “happy” and “close” neighbor and warned against increasing the distance between Britain and the European continent.


What makes a great nation?

Mr. Cameron believes that you cannot define a nation’s greatness by simply evaluating its economic strength. “The greatness,” he said, “comes from what you do with the strength.”

Mr. Cameron discussed the responsibility of great nations in handling the world’s pressing issues, such as climate change and the environment, sustainability, etc. He also talked about inclusive development, so that more people can grow with the nation, rather than being left behind.

In his concluding remarks on great nations, he emphasized the relationship between collaboration and greatness:

“I think greatness will be defined by whether the major powers in this century tackle the problems that have been left behind by the last century, and I think that’s what it’s all about.”


RMB internationalization: Mr. Cameron’s Perspective

Mr. Cameron takes a positive view on the move to internationalize the RMB. He noted that the more involved that China is in international organizations, such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, the better the country will do economically. Further, while holding the currency below its true level helps to deliver a good export model, it creates instabilities. He sees moves, such as the shift in China’s economy from export-driven to consumption-driven and the “One Belt, One Road” initiative as key signals that China is one the right track. 

Do you believe that the world will be a better place? 

Mr. Cameron is an optimist. He pointed out that no matter how bleak the situation looks now, if you look back in time, the situation was much worse. He gave examples of extreme poverty and disease as two challenges that the world has become better equipped to handle in modern times. His view of the future is bright, saying “I think that we’re able, through our own inventiveness, to either create or destroy.  If we’re optimistic and if we use our abilities, then I don’t think there’s a problem we can’t solve in the world.”


About Peking University, Guanghua School of Management

 "To advance management knowledge and develop business leaders for China and the Global Society."- Mission Statement of Peking University, Guanghua School of Management Peking University, Guanghua School of Management is a leading business school in the Asia-Pacific renowned for its China-expertise and international perspective. Guanghua offers a comprehensive business education with programs including, undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, MBA, Executive MBA and executive education programs.

Guanghua has a global network of over 30,000 alumni working across industries for leading domestic and multinational corporations. It also has over 100 partner institutions across the globe. In addition to its main campus in Beijing, Guanghua has campuses in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xi'an and Chengdu and is actively engaged in policy making and economic development in China.