In early September, Martin Jacques spent several days in Manila, giving a series of talks and interviews. Here he joins the inimitable Karen Davila on Headstart to talk about the ongoing US-China trade war, China’s handling of the situation in Hong Kong and why he thinks President Duterte’s pivot to China is the right decision.
This is the transcript of a talk Martin Jacques gave at a Forum organised by China Daily at the Osaka G20 on 25 June 2019.
There is no point in building castles in the air. We must live in the here and now. I am sure the great majority of us wish we were not where we are. We would prefer that the era, beginning in the late 1970s, of globalisation and multilateralism, and that was characterised by relative stability and cooperation in the relationship between the US and China, was still in place. It is not. And it will not return for a very long time. The reason for the breakdown in that old order is profound, as is invariably the case with great historical shifts. We need to understand the causes.
This article was published in JPI Peace Net and presented to the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity in May 2019, South
Korea, in the opening plenary session “Destined for War?:
The Future of US-China Relations and its Implications for the
Korean Peninsula”. Speakers included Martin Jacques,
Prof. Graham Allison and Mr. Li Zhaoxing. The panel was
moderated by Prof. Chung-in Moon.
Forty years of relative stability in the US-China relationship are
at an end. That stability had depended on two things. First, a
huge inequality in the relationship, with the US by far the
dominant partner. Second, the long enduring American illusion
that the only future for China, if it was to be successful, was to
become like America. History has undermined both
propositions. Over a period of 40 years, the most remarkable
in global economic history, China overtook the US economy
and is now 20% larger in terms of GDP purchasing power
parity. Furthermore, it is patently clear to everyone that
China is never going to be like the US. The US hugely
miscalculated, a victim of its own hubris. Its response is
a volte face: a desperate search to find ways of reversing
China’s rise or at least slowing it down. The US is right
that the underlying reason for China’s rise is economic.
So it is logical to start with a trade war. But it will not
stop at that. It will encompass all aspects of their
relationship. We are watching the birth of a new cold war.
And the most likely scenario is that it will last a long time,
my guess is at least twenty years.
Martin Jacques discusses the West’s fear of China’s progress,
its transformed position on the world stage, and what kind of
great power it will become. One-to-one interview with Liu Xin
on The Point (CGTN) on 22 May 2019.
Martin Jacques was on a distinguished panel of guests assembled by CGTN, to discuss China’s reform and opening-up policies, and the China-US relationship, during a special Town Hall program recorded at the George Washington University. The panel included Zhou Jingxing, minister-counselor and chief of Political Section, Chinese Embassy in U.S., Yukon Huang, Senior Fellow with the Asia program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of “The China Conundrum” and Robert Hormats, former U.S. Under Secretary of State and Vice-Chairman at the Kissinger Associates.
The following article was written by Martin Jacques for People’s Daily on the subject of the 40th Anniversary of Reform and Opening Up.
A Chinese translation of the article was published in People’s Daily on 15th January 2019.
When Deng Xiaoping launched the special economic zones in Guangdong and Fujian provinces in 1978, encouraging farmers to sell some of their produce in the newly created markets, and then seeking foreign investment in the new zones, nobody in the world, not even Deng himself, could have imagined that China would, in a handful of decades, experience the most remarkable economictransformation in human history. It is a wonderful story; and from such humble origins. China, of course, is intimately familiar with this story, but the western world still remains largely ignorant of it. More
The following is an English translation of an article by Martin Jacques which assesses 2018 and appears in the People’s Daily, 24th December 2018.
In 2016 populism, as it became known, burst onto the Western political stage in two dramatic events: Britain’s decision in a referendum to leave the European Union, followed by the election of Trump as US president. There was much debate as to what they meant, in particular to what extent they marked a deeper and longer-term shift in Western politics. Both events took most Western commentators – and, indeed, others elsewhere including China – by surprise. Initially the predominant view was that Trump’s election would not mark such a sharp break in policy as his rhetoric suggested. For most, continuity was still the prevalent expectation. But this argument became increasingly difficult to sustain and now, as we look back on 2018, it is clear that rupture rather than continuity has been the overriding characteristic of US politics, and Western politics more generally, since 2016. We are in very new times. More
For long the West has thought that history is on its side, that the global future would and should be in its own image. With the end of the cold war and the implosion of the Soviet Union, this conviction became stronger than ever. The future was Western; nothing else was imaginable. Of course, already, well before the end of the cold war, in 1978 to be exact, China had started its epic modernisation such that, in the annals of history, 1978 will surely prove to be a far more significant year than 1989. During China’s rise, hubris continued to shape the West’s perception and understanding of China. As the latter modernised it would become increasingly Western, it was supposed: Deng’s reforms marked the beginning of the privatisation and marketisation of the Chinese economy—its political system would in time become Western, otherwise China would inevitably fail.
This talk was delivered by Martin Jacques at the Third Symposium on International Ccpology at Fudan University on November 24 2018.
There is a profound ignorance in the West about Chinese governance. The dominant attitude is still essentially dismissive. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that Chinese governance is based on entirely different values and principles to those that inform Western governance. The idea of Western democracy has been the main calling card of the West since 1945 and, for countries like the US and the UK, much longer. In Western eyes, the legitimacy of any political system is measured by the extent to which it approximates to universal suffrage, a multi-party system, the separation of powers and the rule of law. Such is the commitment to these notions that it is not an exaggeration to suggest that Western democracy is viewed in terms that are akin to the ‘end of history’. They are regarded as indispensable for good governance and cannot be improved upon in their essentials. The second reason is the legacy of the cold war, which continues to exercise a profound influence on Western thinking – and elsewhere too, though usually to a rather lesser extent. Communism and Communist Parties are still deeply associated in the western mind with the history, experience and fate of the CPSU.
Martin Jacques delivered the talk below at the Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend in March 2018. The talk was on how China’s Belt & Road Initiative will change the world.
In March 2018, the Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend welcomed some of the brightest and most interesting minds from the UAE and around the world to discuss four of the most important moonshot challenges facing our planet. The event was inspired by the world-famous Aspen Ideas Festival that has been taking place in Colorado since 2005, as a place for scientists, artists, politicians, business leaders, historians and educators to discuss some of the most fascinating ideas of our time. The 2018 Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend topics included: “Polarisation: Bridging the gaps”, “Cancer: An end in sight?”, “Artificial Intelligence: Our super-intelligent friend?” and “The Modern Silk Road: A new era of globalisation”.
In conversation with Martin Jacques is Julian Gewirtz, a Fellow in History and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
In this interview with Global Times, Martin Jacques, on the 40th anniversary of “reform and opening up”, reviews the significance of Deng Xiaoping’s historic initiative and China’s prospects in the light of the deteriorating relationship with the US in the era of Trump.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. what do you think of the role the reform and opening up has played in china’s extraordinary changes?
China’s transformation started in 1949, but only in 1978 did China’s economy start to take off in an extraordinary way. It was only then that the Chinese worked out what the appropriate economy strategy was for the country. This was the stroke of genius of Deng Xiaoping.What he proposed was very radical and represented a major shift in the communist tradition. Basically he said two things: firstly, socialism is not synonymous with the state and state planning,but that socialism had to combine both the state and the market. And secondly, he argued that China needed to see itself as part of the whole world, including the capitalist world. China had to live with and compete with and learn from the capitalist world, and not just the socialist world.
In October 2017, China’s 19th Party Congress adopted the ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’ – giving the Chinese leader a status unmatched except by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
George Magnus, author of the new book, ‘Red Flags: Why Xi’s China is in Jeopardy’, joined the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival to discuss the implications of this “new era” for China. He was in conversation with Martin Jacques, author of the global bestseller ‘When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World,’ and Dr Yu Jie, Head of China Foresight at LSE.
The following article was published in China Daily on October 10 2018.
China’s rapid growth since the reform and opening-up process began in 1978 has not only been an economic miracle for the nation, but it has also offered a new development model for other emerging economies, said Martin Jacques, author of the global bestseller When China Rules the World.
In doing so, China has proved the inaccuracy of the previous consensus that the Western model of development was the only path to success.
Effectively, Jacques said, China has inspired other emerging countries to explore development paths that are suitable for their own situations.
Part 8: Why are we threatened by the rise of China?
‘One reason people feel threatened by the rise of China is because actually they are very ignorant about China.’
In Part 8 of Martin Jacques on China (presented by CGTN),Martin Jacques wonders whether the West will ever make sense of the rise of China, and explains that concerns about a more aggressive China mainly arise from the Cold War hostility and Western ignorance.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was in Beijing in July on his first major overseas trip since taking office. The occasion, the 9th China-U.K. Strategic Dialogue, an event that serves to reinforce ties between the two countries.
Discussing the growing relationship between China and the United Kingdom on The Heat were Martin Jacques, senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University and author of When China Rules the World; Peter Ho, an economist and a research fellow at the London School of Economics; Philippe Le Corre, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School; Nathan King is a CGTN Correspondent based in Washington, D.C.
China is marking a major milestone this year. It is now 40 years since the country began to open up and launch economic reforms.
Today, China has been transformed. It has seen rapid economic development and has pulled more than 800 million people out of poverty. It is also playing a major role in the global economy and is a leader in promoting globalization and free trade. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping is promising more reform and opening up as the country plans for the next phase of development.
Discussing China’s 40 year transformation on The Heat were Pingkang Yu, the Chief Economist with Changjiang Pension Insurance Company; Perry Wong, the Managing Director of Research at the Milken Institute; Anil Gupta, a professor at the University of Maryland and Chairman of the China India Institute in Washington; and Martin Jacques, Senior Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University.
As momentous historic events go, China’s reform period was relatively unheralded. Little did anyone realize at the time – probably no one, in fact – that 1978 would enter the history books as one of the most important years in modern history.
We should not be surprised. At the time, the Chinese economy was a mere one-twentieth of the size of the US economy, with a per capita GDP roughly on a par with that of Zambia, lower than half of the Asian average and lower than two-thirds of the African average. China’s impact on the world was very limited, even in East Asia.
Watch Martin Jacques in conversation with Shashi Tharoor, exploring what will define the progress of China and India over the coming years. As part of the Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference in Singapore. Moderated by Martin Soong (CNBC Asia).
Double click for full screen.
For a report on the discussion please see this article by Jo-ann Huang in The Straits Times.
Launch of new Chinese edition of When China Rules the World
The release of a brand new expanded and updated Chinese edition of When China Rules the World has attracted a great deal of media attention in China. Below is a video interview with CCTV, followed by a series of links to other reports and interviews.
Martin Jacques is chairman of the Harinder Veriah Trust, a charity providing vital support to underprivileged girls in Malaysia, helping them to get the best from their schooling and achieve an education that will transform their lives.
Talk: “Why China Will Be a Very Different Kind of Great Power
27/10/14 — Furama RiverFront Hotel, Singapore
Business China, in conjunction with Singapore Press Holdings, organised a wonderful event on 27th November in Singapore in their Eminent Speakers Series. Over a thousand people packed into the Grand Ballroom of Singapore’s Furama RiverFront Hotel to hear Martin Jacques talk on Why China Will Be a Very Different Kind of Great Power — and now for the first time, a complete video of the event is available to view.
The talk was followed by a question and answer session during which the moderator, Professor Tan Khee Giap, asked the audience whether or not they broadly agreed with Jacques’s argument. Did they vote for or against? See the short video below. Click here for the extensive media coverage of the event (in Chinese)
University of Melbourne – When China Rules the World
On 18th September 2012, Martin Jacques gave a talk at the University of Melbourne as part of a public lecture series organised by Asialink, questioning ‘Australia’s Role in the World’. This highly popular YouTube video of his lecture has over 200,000 views.
BBC Radio 4: Point of View Talks
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.
Martin Jacques joins Karen Davila on ANC Headstart to talk about the ongoing US-China trade war, China’s handling of the situation in Hong Kong and why he thinks President Duterte’s pivot to China is the right decision.
The following interview with Martin Jacques originally appeared in the New Internationalist.
Yohann Koshy: How did China respond to the global financial crisis?
Martin Jacques: It was essentially a Western crisis but China had to respond because the American and European markets, on which it was quite dependent, went down very badly initially and [it did this] by having a huge stimulus programme. It pumped very large amounts of money into the economy and the consequence was that Chinese growth went down slightly but remained very high. It was pushing 9 and 10 per cent during this period and, in fact, went up to 12 and 13 per cent.
In the longer period, basically what happened was a serious attempt to shift the centre of gravity of the Chinese economy. In 1978, China’s economy was a 20th the size of the US economy. The reforms over the following decades were about becoming an export-driven economy, dependent on cheap labour that came from powerful migratory movements from the countryside to the main cities, with, of course, very strong input from the state.
But since the financial crisis the shift has been towards an economy that is increasingly dependent on domestic rather than foreign consumption, with much greater dependence on research and development, and with a lower growth rate. The new norm for a growth rate is between 6.5 and 7 per cent, which China has maintained to this day. But when the economy is growing at that rate, given the size of the whole country, the global impact is still enormous: China’s been responsible, since the Western financial crisis, for somewhere between 40 and 50 per cent of global growth. Without the Chinese economy, the global economy would be in a mess.
Could China be going down the route of financialization like the Western economies? Blackrock, the huge hedge fund, was recently granted a licence to start operating there.
Well, I don’t think the Blackrock announcement itself constitutes anything like that. I think the Chinese will very strongly resist going down that path. Of course, they need a strong financial sector. They will need to develop capital markets [financial venues where cash can be raised for investment]. But the thing is that the Chinese economy is very different to the US economy. It’s still got tremendous manufacturing capacity and emphasis on the importance of scientific and technical labour. The state is very fundamental to the way in which the Chinese economy works. They’ve also been much more able to deal with special interests in the way the Western economies haven’t. The banking sector became [dominant] within Western societies during the neoliberal period from the late 1970s through to the financial crash. It seems to me there’s very little evidence of this happening in China.
And when Mark Carney says he’s worried about shadow banking in China…
The main debt problem in China is corporate debt. The state-banking system, but also to some extent the shadow banking system, has built up indebtedness because it’s sometimes over-lent to schemes, plans and investments which weren’t that sound, and that has increased. But it is not, like the US or Britain, the state which is indebted… So it’s a problem but it’s an internal, rather than external problem. What really did for the smaller Asian economies during the Asian financial crisis [in the 1990s] was that they held major assets in foreign currencies and suddenly, as their currencies fell, their debts increased rapidly.
Also, the Chinese population itself is not indebted. They tend to have very big savings, which is one of the reasons behind the country’s financial strength… You have to say that the economic management of the Chinese economy has been quite remarkable. They’ve gone for 35 years without a serious crisis. Compare that with the West!
A key development since the crash is China creating the New Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, which even Britain and Germany signed up to – much to US displeasure. Why are they creating these alternatives to the World Bank and the IMF?
After 2007-08, the Chinese realized… they couldn’t rely on the interests of US economy and the global economy being aligned. They had to develop their own institutions. The Americans had also dragged their feet on reforms to the IMF because they wanted to retain control of it.
In this situation you don’t want institutions like the IMF and World Bank, which are essentially Western institutions whose primary function is serving Western economies. You need something with a much more expansive and inclusive view of the world… This is why we’ve seen the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, the New Development Bank (the BRICS bank), and we’re going to see a much bigger development of this altogether with the Belts & Road initiative [a massive infrastructure programme that aims to improve connectivity between Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia]. The vehicle for the global transformation for the next period will be this Belts & Road initiative.
I understand why Chinese investment has been welcomed by governments. However, in Ecuador there are indigenous communities protesting against rapacious Chinese mining companies. In Gambia, local fishers are being crowded out by Chinese firms. At a moral and political level, how should China deal with these struggles? Because there is no development without conflict.
You’re right: there is always conflict in development. China has, with great speed, developed a presence in many different developing countries. On the one hand, this has led to growing demand for commodity producers [in poorer countries] – from oil to metals like iron ore – and that’s had a powerful effect on their economies. On the other hand, China is also extremely competitive in lots of industries and this can have negative effects. There are plenty of examples where China on the low-end of manufacturing has out-competed with firms in the developing world that haven’t got the scale and level of investment to compete.
In terms of the relationship with places like Africa and southeast Asia, Chinese companies have been a major factor in developing the beginnings of a serious manufacturing capacity in places like Ethiopia, which by and large never really had one before. I think that China’s relationship with Africa has been basically very positive. I’m not saying there haven’t been problems. For example, there is a lot of resentment about Chinese companies bringing Chinese labour into some of the infrastructural developments. But the reason I think it’s been broadly positive is that China was a new source of demand for commodity producers in Africa. That means they were no longer just dependent on Western demand; it became a competitive market, which bid up the price of commodities during that period and meant that they were in a better economic situation.
Secondly, and this is why I deeply resent the argument that China is the new colonial power in Africa, China understands the problem of developing countries. One of the big problems is developing infrastructure that delivers transportation, energy and the necessary building blocks of a more developed economy. What China has done in all the major countries in Africa is to provide road systems, railways and so on. For the Chinese it’s all about development.
China has not always behaved well. If you take Myanmar, it got far too close to the military regime [that is persecuting the Rohingya] and a weakness of the Chinese is… [that they often arrive in new countries without being] sufficiently sensitive to local opinion. That has definitely happened in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. So those kind of tensions are real and important. And no doubt the Chinese will make many more mistakes. The question is whether they learn from them. So now they’re learning how to deal with civil society in other countries because they don’t have a civil society in the same way as most countries.
Let’s end with the US. There is growing bellicosity between the two superpowers. However, their economies are also dependent on each other. China owns more US debt, in the form of Treasury bonds, than any other country, which in turn allows the US to spend beyond its means and buy China’s products. Is this sustainable?
The difficulty in the West is the inability to make sense of China. Listen to the BBC’s Today Programme, read The Guardian: there is little sense of this shift in the world. How many articles have there been on the Belt & Road initiative, which is the most important global project of this era?
Ironically, Trump was the first leading US politician to recognize US decline: this is the premise of ‘Make America Great Again’. He is, however, deluded in the belief that he can reverse it. I do think there is going to be a trade war, but nothing will [reverse China’s rise]. These are deep historical forces at work, just like the rise of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries were deep historical trends. So America has to come to terms with the rise of China and renegotiate its relationship with China. At the heart of any answer to your question is this: how is the West going to handle its own relative decline?
Martin Jacques, former editor of Marxism Today, is the author of When China Rules the World (Penguin).
An opinion piece by Carmen N. Pedrosa in The Philippine Star. Read it on their website here.
There have always been critics of The Asian Century. As expected these critics are from the Western world that once colonized almost the entire Asian continent. Asians, they think were properly subjugated. Not so fast, boy. We do not know why things happen as they do – in circles. A good example is the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. For myself, I think it will be a comeback for Asians who are great traders and innovators, given the chance.
But some Western critics are satisfied with the reasoning that because the West does not want to happen, it will not happen. That is a blatant presumption of their colonial thinking.