The visit of the Chinese prime minister, Li Keqiang, to London last week is the latest illustration of a huge shift that is taking place in Sino-British relations. On taking office, the Coalition government talked about the importance of emerging markets such as China but did little. Then David Cameron met the Dalai Lama in 2012 and the Chinese put us in the deep freeze for 18 months. But, to its great credit, once normal relations were resumed, the Government lost no time in seeking to place the relationship on a different footing. In Beijing last December, Cameron spoke of Britain and China becoming “great partners”.
A month ago, China overtook the US to become the largest economy in the world by one measure. By 2030 it is projected that the Chinese economy will be twice as large as America’s and larger than the European Union and America combined, accounting for one third of global GDP. This is the world that is coming into being, that we must learn to adapt to and thrive in. It is a far cry from the comfort zone we are used to, a globe dominated by the West and Japan: in the Seventies, between them they were responsible for two thirds of global GDP; by 2030 it will be a mere one third.
Speaking at a TED Salon in London, Martin Jacques asks: How do we in the West make sense of China and its phenomenal rise? This hugely successful TED talk has over 1.7 million views.
According to the International Comparison Programme of the World Bank, later this year the Chinese economy will become larger than that of the United States measured by purchasing power parity. Already, by the end of 2011 it was 87% of the size of the US economy. The United States has been the world’s largest economy since 1872 when it overtook the UK. The Chinese economy had previously been expected to overtake the US economy in 2019, in other words five years later. Despite the bearish sentiments of many western commentators over the years, the Chinese economy has consistently outperformed the predictions about its rise.
Martin Jacques in conversation with John Gapper, Financial Times columnist, at the Names Not Numbers Conference on 23rd March at Aldeburgh, UK. Click here to read a an edited transcript of the interview.
On Tuesday 11th March, Martin Jacques argued for the motion that Democracy is Not Always the Best Form of Government in a debate televised by BBC World News. Speaking for the motion with him was Rosemary Hollis, Professor of Middle East Policy Studies and Director of the Olive Tree Scholarship Programme at City University; speaking against the motion were the American political scientist Ian Bremmer, and the Ukranian MP Andriy Shevchenko.
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried” — So said Winston Churchill. And who would disagree?
But is the assumption that democracy always leads to a more liberal and tolerant society correct? Many would argue that it can lead to quite illiberal outcomes especially where there is profound ethnic division. Take for example Yugoslavia. Slobodan Milosevic – the democratically elected president – left a legacy of more than 200,000 dead in Bosnia and ethnically cleansed more than 800,000 Albanians from their homes in Kosovo. And what if democracy were installed in Syria? It’s not hard to imagine the outcome for the minority groups who for decades have enjoyed the protection of Assad’s regime.
Is democracy always the best outcome?
On 25 February 2014, Martin Jacques gave the pre-dinner speech on China to an invited audience in the presence of HRH Crown Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg. It was organised by Luxembourg for Finance as a prelude to their Renminbi Forum 2014. Martin Jacques is photographed here with the Crown Prince. More photos from the event can be viewed here.
Over the last decade China has become the biggest trading partner of a multitude of countries around the world. All those coloured in red count as their biggest trading partner; for those coloured orange China is the second biggest trading partner. In 1990, China was the biggest trading partner of hardly any countries in the world; and even a decade ago it was still a phenomenon overwhelmingly confined to East Asia.
This map graphically illustrates how Asia is the demographic centre of the world. And Danny Quah’s accompanying map below demonstrates how the epicentre of the global economy is relentlessly moving from its location in the western Atlantic in 1980 to its present location north of the Red Sea, and to the Indo-Chinese border by 2050.
Source: Danny Quah
Martin Jacques presents a highly successful series of programmes on how best to understand the unique characteristics and apparent mysteries of contemporary China, its development and its possible future. In this new series, he sets out the building blocks for making sense of China today.
This is a special 45 minute CCTV television programme broadcast on April 8th of the debate earlier that day at the Boao Forum in Hainan on China’s Reform Agenda. It features Justin Lin, until recently chief economist of the World Bank, Fan Gang, president of China’s National Economic Research Institute, Charlene Barshefsky, former US Trade Representative, and Martin Jacques.
Breakfast meeting with Hong Kong Forum: Speech by Martin Jacques — "Why China is so different from the West - and what it means", followed by roundtable discussion
Hong Kong, China
8.00 — 9.15am: Discussion
Harcourt Suite, 1/F
The Hong Kong Club
1 Jackson Road
Hong Kong Island
Asia Society Hong Kong: Talk by Martin Jacques, "Imagining China as a Great Power", followed by dialogue between Martin Jacques and Asia Society chairman Ronnie C. Chan
Hong Kong, China
6.30: Drinks reception
7.00 — 8.00pm: Discussion
9 Justice Drive
China Conference 2014: China: Looking Ahead
Keynote speech by Martin Jacques “The next decade: how China is going to reshape the world”
18/05/14 - Nihon Keizai Shimbun
12/05/14 - Yomiuri Shimbun
24/04/13 — Beveridge Hall, Senate House, London University