Transcript Staff Writer

For one former British governor, economics and policy cannot be made within borders.

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong before its return to China, spoke Monday night at the President's Associates Dinner at the Oklahoma Memorial Union.

While Patten said he was "very struck" that he was best known for "leaving Hong Kong," the future of the world's economy depends on the current and past economic leaders, China and India.

"Chicago took 50 years to grow to 1.7 million people," Patten said. "China grew eight times more than Chicago did in the same time period during the 19th century."

With a large population including a "large pool of unused labor," China will continue to be a vital part of future exports and imports worldwide, Patten said.

"The world's economy has relied on two things: China's extraordinary export performance and America's extraordinary borrowing performance," Patten said, drawing laughter from the audience.

He said his personal experience in Hong Kong began long before he served as British governor from 1992-1997.

"I had gone there (to Hong Kong) as a young member of Parliament (in 1979)," Patten said. "Hong Kong has all parts of a democratic state, except the right to choose its own government."

He said there is a clear difference between the economies of China and India.

"India is being much more attractive to innovators than China," he said. "When intellectual property is pillaged in such a fashion, innovation has trouble developing it."

He said some countries may be tempted not to participate in open world trade.

"There is going to be an incredible temptation on all of us to be more protective," he said. "We are seeing the loss of manufacturing jobs to China, but also the loss of white-collar jobs.

"Knowledge and information are largely important to economic growth. We used to think we could deal with competition from Asia because although we had high costs, we had high skills."

Despite fears of losing jobs and money to foreign countries, Patten said when dealing with genocide in Darfur, drug trafficking and other issues, the world cannot afford not to have a relationship with India and especially China.

"We have to recognize that China and India have to be a part of global leadership in the future," Patten said. "Can we deal with terrorism without the involvement of China? Problem after problem requires their involvement.

"Unless we can convince the Chinese that a stable world is as much in their interest as it is ours, we will have an unstable world. Given the nature of the problems of the world today, we need to recognize the importance of partnership."

University of Oklahoma President David Boren reiterated the importance of world view for everyone and applauded Patten's appearance at OU.

"Reflecting upon (Patten's) career, I don't think we've ever had anyone who has been involved in the world around us in so many ways as Lord Patten," Boren said. "We understand that this generation of students, more than any other generation, will be in a world environment."

Althea Peterson 366-3539 apeterson@normantranscript.com

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