The west’s bears have always well outnumbered the bulls when it comes to the Chinese economy. A new problem is all too often seen as an intimation of impending crisis, a hard landing, consequent social instability, and perhaps the eventual collapse of the regime. Dream on.
The bears, it goes without saying, have a dreadful record. After 35 years of extraordinary economic growth, China is still growing at 7% annually. True, that is lower than before, but still at a rate that dwarfs anything in the west.
One of the great weaknesses of so much western economic commentary is that it fails to look much beyond the next quarter’s, or even month’s, results. In contrast the Chinese understand where they have come from, where they are and where they need to go. Nor are they complacent: the Chinese leadership readily admits it faces quite new economic challenges.
30/04/15 – Today (Singapore)
SINGAPORE — China’s rise has to be viewed with the right lens and many the West fail to understand the Asian power because of a lack of knowledge of the country’s unique history and culture, said prominent China expert Dr Martin Jacques.
In an interview with TODAY, the British-born author said it is a mistake for the West to think that Beijing is unwilling to implement political reforms in its institutions simply because the reforms China has taken do not move towards a Western-style system.
Instead, China’s vast economic transformation in a mere few decades means that institutions in the country have been constantly re-engineered and reinvented to cope with the level of change, said Dr Jacques, whose book When China Rules The World has sold over 250,000 copies worldwide. “Generally, this has been greatly underestimated in the West — they don’t recognise this political reform (in China) because the only political reform they recognise is that which is moving China closer to the West,” he said.
30/04/15 – Today (Singapore)
China has shown enormous capacity for reform in the past three decades without the need to move towards a Western-style system — a point greatly underestimated by the West, said prominent China expert Martin Jacques in a wide-ranging interview with TODAY’s Celene Tan this week. Dr Jacques also said that the Chinese Communist Party does not need economic growth to legitimise its rule and he believes China will grow to be a benign power. Below is an excerpt from the interview.
The latest issue of Foreign Affairs painted a picture of China as a country facing the classic challenges of the middle phases of development. It said China’s existing institutions may not be able to manage the country’s problems in the long term and Beijing seems unlikely to adopt the reforms that could help because they would threaten the Communist Party’s hold on power. What are your views on this?
China has done extraordinarily well over the past 35 years. It has shown an enormous capacity for reform, not only economic reform, but also political reform. Because if you’re growing at roughly 10 per cent a year, your economy is doubling its size every seven years. Now, more like every 10 years with the current growth rate. It’s impossible for the institutions to cope with this level of change without being constantly reengineered and reinvented. Generally, this has been greatly underestimated in the West. Foreign Affairs is a sort of journal of the United States foreign policy establishment — generally they don’t recognise this political reform because the only political reform they recognise is that which is moving China closer to the West. So, if it’s not doing that, then it’s not acknowledged, really.
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 1.9 million views.
A discussion on the AIIB, the future of IMF and World Bank, the New Silk Road and much else. Panel includes Justin Lin and Martin Jacques.
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)
Jonathan Freedland’s new thriller The Third Woman is set in a future in which the United States is in thrall to China. Freedland told the Guardian newspaper that his new book was inspired by Martin Jacques’s bestselling When China Rules the World which, according to the review in the Guardian, argues that ‘China has no interest in moving towards western-style democracy. Rather, its economic power will grow as it learns to operate “both within and outside the existing international system… sponsoring a new China-centric international system which will exist alongside the present system and probably slowly begin to usurp it”’.
The Western portrayal of China’s future tends to “blow hot and cold”, but the heat of China’s rise is here to stay, British scholar Martin Jacques said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Commenting on a resurfacing “Chinese Century” debate among global media, Martin said that the reason behind this hot discourse is simple: the fact that China’s development continues.
“The Western commentary about China’s rise is erratic, and tends to be a bit negative. And then from time to time, they sort of wake up and realize that the trend continues,” said the author of the international best-seller “When China Rules the World”.
In an article for the Vanity Fair magazine, U.S. economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, foresaw the arrival of a “Chinese Century” in 2015 on the grounds that China has surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest economy in terms of GDP based on purchasing power parity.
This interview was widely covered in Chinese media:
Coverage is also available in English
There is an overwhelming assumption in the West that China’s Achilles heel is the state: that it lacks legitimacy. This is the underlying reason why Westerners believe that China’s transformation is unsustainable: that the political system cannot survive. It would be wrong to suggest that attitudes have not shifted: the endurance of the reform period, now over 35 years old, and the scale of its achievement have bred a growing if still grudging respect, and a less apocalyptic view of Chinese political change. Few now regard it to be imminent and many have extended their time horizons somewhat into the future.
Nevertheless, most Westerners still regard China’s present political order as lacking legitimacy and as ultimately unsustainable. In the post 1945 period, Westerners have come to believe that Western-style democracy – essentially universal suffrage and a multi-party system – is more or less the sole source of a government’s legitimacy. This is a superficial and ahistorical position. Western-style democracy does not ensure the legitimacy of a regime in the eyes of its people: Italy is perhaps the classic example, with successive governments over a long historical period experiencing a chronic lack of legitimacy. And what of China? Although it does not have Western-style democracy, there is plenty of evidence – for example the Pew Global Attitude surveys and the work of Tony Saich at the Harvard Kennedy School – that the Chinese government enjoys high levels of support and legitimacy, much higher indeed than those of Western governments.
In the west there is an underlying assumption that the Achilles heel of China is its political system. Since the country lacks western-style democracy, its system of governance is unsustainable. Ultimately, China will be obliged to adopt our kind of political system. Yet China’s governance system has been remarkably successful for more than three decades. It has presided over the greatest economic transformation in modern history. The state is highly competent, able to think strategically, while at the same time pragmatic and experimental. It has presided over rapidly rising living standards and enjoys a great deal of popular support. The idea that sooner or later – the western assumption has generally been sooner – public support will evaporate is farfetched. On the contrary, with economic growth still rapid and living standards rising similarly, it seems more likely that the regime will enjoy growing rather than declining support. Read more >
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 150,000 views.
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.
3rd Silk Road Economic Belt Cities Cooperation and Development Forum
Lecture at Fudan University, "China's Rise and its Global Implications"
9.30am: Lecture, 4th Floor, Fuxuan Hotel, Fudan University
6:30pm: Debate with Pan Xiaoli, 4th Floor, Fuxuan Hotel, Fudan University
Visiting Professor, Institute of Modern International Relations, Tsinghua University, Beijing
The Party and World Dialogue 2015: To Discipline the Party: Responsibility of the Party
Organised by the China Center for Contemporary World Studies
Lecture at Tsinghua University: 'China's Rise and the New Normal' — Organised by the Institute of Modern International Relations
7.00pm: Moderated by Professor Yan Xuetong
Opening Plenary Address at the Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium, Concordia College
Exploring the political, economic, environmental, cultural, and security implications of China’s rise, the 2015 Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium will be opened by Martin Jacques. Speakers include Minxin Pei and Elizabeth Economy.
7.30pm: Opening Address, “What are the implications of China’s rise for the Global Order?”
03/03/15 – People's Daily