Italy's Former Prime Minister Enrico Letta Interviewed at PKU

2016-11-10 15:44:00

As part of his trip to Beijing, Enrico Letta, former Prime Minister of Italy and current Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) at SciencesPo, met with the President of Peking University (PKU) Lin Jianhua on November 5, 2016, at the Yingjie Overseas Exchange Center. After Mr. Letta’s meeting with Mr. Lin, the Office of International Relations Student Press Corps had a chance to ask Mr. Letta some questions about his views on globalization and the PKU-SciencesPo dual degree program.

►Enrico Letta at the Beijing Forum 2016
On an Increasingly Connected World:
Mr. Letta stated that digitalization is changing the way politics is made. While technology provides good opportunities for transparency and connectivity, he lamented negative repercussions in the domain of politics. Political discussion is shortened and simplified; Twitter only allows 140 characters, replacing political discourse with mere slogans. He further pointed out that every major decision is based on many small decisions, but when needing consensus on every small issue, politics cannot move forward. He therefore underlined the importance of a representative democracy. Asking for the opinion of the people by holding a referendum for every decision is not feasible, as these tend to turn the discussion about a certain question into a campaign and boils complicated issues down to a black and white decision.

On International Relations:
In his speech for the 20th birthday of the School of International Studies of PKU on Thursday, Mr. Letta said that international relations are changing in an unpredictable way. Asked how to prepare for the unpredictable, Mr. Letta compared modern times with when his generation was educated: at that time, it appeared that normalcy was interrupted by a crisis and then returned to normalcy. Nowadays, however, crisis has become a kind of normalcy in itself. The EU went from a financial crisis to a migrant crisis, before it was struck by Brexit. These changing environments also lead to changes in how international relations should be taught. In his classes, he would not only give lessons but also rely on simulations that require flexibility and adaptability, preparing students for the changes we see in international relations.

►Enrico Letta at the Beijing Forum 2016
On SciencesPo and PKU Cooperation:
Concerning the cooperation between SciencesPo and PKU, Letta reaffirmed that the cooperation with PKU is very important, as PKU is one of the most important universities in China. Letta aims to strengthen the cooperation with PKU and within this partnership to work on issues regarding China and the Asian region, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the One Belt, One Belt Road Initiative, among others.

In his concluding remarks, Letta pointed out that SciencesPo wants to extend its cooperation with PKU, and that several talks had been undertaken while in Beijing, which will be continued when he returns to Paris.

Author: Christian Steidl
Editor and Designer: EAS