UK Politics

Blair hails Chinese progress as memoir is published

Tony Blair with actress Li Bingbing
Image caption In a new foreword to his memoir, Mr Blair reflects on some of the challenges facing China in the future

Tony Blair has launched the Chinese edition of his memoir, praising the "unprecedented progress" the country has made since his first visit in 1989.

The former UK prime minister made a brief speech at the publication of the Chinese-language version of A Journey.

In an interview with the China Daily newspaper, Mr Blair said the world needed to "learn to live" with China and "understand" it better.

He said he had visited China 14 times since leaving office in 2007.

The autobiography, which charts New Labour's rise to power, the invasion of Iraq and Mr Blair's difficult relationship with his chancellor and the man who would replace him as prime minister, Gordon Brown, was published in the UK last year.

All the proceeds of the book are being donated to the Royal British Legion, a charity which cares for injured service personnel.

According to the Xinhua news agency, Mr Blair praised China's "unprecedented achievements" in recent years at the book launch ceremony at a hotel in Beijing.

In a foreword specially written for the Chinese market, Mr Blair spells out the challenges he believes face China in the future, highlighting political reform, maintaining the pace of economic growth, a growing middle class demanding more say in decisions and developing a "harmonious society".

'Intimate account'

He told China Daily that China's rise represented a "paradigm shift" in international relations.

"There is not a single global problem that can be resolved today without China's help, intervention and support," he said.

"It means that we have to know China, understand it better, learn to live with it better".

Asked which aspects of the book were most likely to appeal to Chinese readers, Mr Blair said he hoped they would relate to its "intimate account" of what being a leader was like.

"It does not matter whether you are a British leader or any sort of leader. It describes what it is like. Otherwise, some people think leaders come from outer space but actually we are humans. We are earthlings."

Lu Jiande, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily: "Blair is a good writer. He writes A Journey in a different tone to the one he adopts for the media

"I was moved by his candidness. He's eloquent and full of enthusiasm.

"I hope the release of the Chinese version will trigger a similar faithfulness and sense of responsibility among Chinese officials."

After the ceremony, Mr Blair met Liu Binjie, president of China's General Administration of Press and Publication, and vowed to promote cultural exchange between the two countries, according to the Xinhua news agency.

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