Professor Niall Ferguson gave the audience at a sold-out “60 Minutes With…” plenty of food for thought. He covered his “killer Apps” from his book, Civilisation, that sought to explain why after 1600 did the West become so much richer, healthier and more powerful than everywhere else. Outlining economic and political competition; scientific revolution; the rule of law; modern medicine; a consumer society; and work ethic as the six “downloadable” apps that countries could apply to their development, he described China’s development in terms of using these elements and highlighted that the rule of law was the single biggest challenge.
“Until there is rule of law, a system is unstable – prone to capital outflows and corruption.”
Professor Ferguson was asked whether he had to teach different history classes depending on whether he was in China or in the US. He explained that, at present, there was the opportunity to teach the same history at Tsinghua as at Harvard. The conversation also covered the different approaches to religion in the US and Europe; Islam and the challenge of political Islam; and mobile phones ringing at inconvenient moments!