The reforms that count tend to conform to the western model, writes Martin Jacques
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.
Here is a perceptive Chinese response to my FT article (above) and Francis Fukuyama’s recent writing on China
British academic Martin Jacques wrote in a recent article in the Financial Times that “China’s governance system has been remarkably successful for more than three decades.” He also contended that it is a mistaken view to believe “democracy is the sole source of a regime’s legitimacy.” He pointed out the possibility that “the problems of governance will become more acute in the West than China.”
This article echoes the thoughts of US political scientist Francis Fukuyama about the dysfunction of US systems.
Noticeably, Jacques wrote the book When China Rules the World and is considered a China hand in the West. But Fukuyama is known for arguing that the Western system may signal the end of human government.
08/10/14 — Channel NewsAsia
01/10/14 — BBC Newsnight
On October 1st Evan Davis held a discussion on the Hong Kong student protests with Martin Jacques and Anson Chan.
The upheaval sweeping Hong Kong is more complicated than on the surface it might appear. Protests have erupted over direct elections to be held in three years’ time; democracy activists claim that China’s plans will allow it to screen out the candidates it doesn’t want.
It should be remembered, however, that for 155 years until its handover to China in 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony, forcibly taken from China at the end of the first opium war. All its 28 subsequent governors were appointed by the British government. Although Hong Kong came, over time, to enjoy the rule of law and the right to protest, under the British it never enjoyed even a semblance of democracy. It was ruled from 6,000 miles away in London. The idea of any kind of democracy was first introduced by the Chinese government. In 1990 the latter adopted the Basic Law, which included the commitment that in 2017 the territory’s chief executive would be elected by universal suffrage; it also spelt out that the nomination of candidates would be a matter for a nominating committee.
席卷香港的混乱根源比表面上看到的 更复杂。示威由三年后将举行的普选引 发,民主派激进人士宣称,中国的方案让 北京可以把它不想要的候选人排除在外。
不要忘记,香港是在第一次鸦片战争 后,被英国从中国手中强行掠夺。在回 归中国前,作为英国殖民地的155年里, 28名港督都是英国政府任命的。随后,香 港虽然享有法制和示威的权利,在英国统 治期间却连形式上的民主都没有。它被远 在6000英里外的伦敦统治。任何形式的民 主观念首先都是由中国政府引入的。1990 年,香港特别行政区基本法通过,包括承 诺2017年香港特区行政长官的选举将由普 选产生。该法也同时规定,候选人由提名 委员会提名。Read Chinese edition >
On 9th November 2014 the Singaporean paper Lianhe Zaobao published an interview with Martin Jacques, reproduced below (click to enlarge):
Diplomacy Magazine (Gaiko) — 30/09/14
In April this year the World Bank’s International Comparison Program projected that during the course of 2014 China’s GDP (measured by ppp) would exceed that of the United States. Although widely anticipated to happen in the next several years, hardly anyone expected it to be this year. But, it should be noted, the West has consistently underestimated the speed of China’s rise. As a result, it has been, and remains, consistently behind the curve of China’s rise, with the consequence that it constantly underestimates the extent to which the world has changed because of China’s transformation.
Of course, economic power does not translate immediately and directly into political power. On the contrary, if we look at the rise of previous hegemons, notably the UK in the nineteenth century and the US in the twentieth century, there has always been a significant time lag between their emergence as great economic powers and their subsequent arrival as major hegemonic powers enjoying broader political, cultural and military as well as economic influence. That said, however, economic power was the fundamental pre-condition for, and prelude to, their emergence as global hegemons. The same will be true of China.
経済大国・中国の影響力は急速に拡大しつつある。東ア ジアは一段と中国中心になるが、広範な世界的影響力、 覇権国としての力の伸長は長くゆっくりしたプロセスに なろう。中国には「忍耐と慎重さ」が求められるが、世 界は中国の変容に伴う変化に目を背けてはならない。
As the chair of the Harinder Veriah Trust, Martin Jacques is proud to announce the launch of the new Harinder Veriah Trust website. Established to commemorate Martin Jacques’s wife Harinder Veriah, the Trust helps over 60 school girls each year from Assunta Primary and secondary schools in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, to realise their potential, escape from poverty, and help transform their community. To find out more, or to make a donation, visit the trust at:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Keynote Speech at the Leading Hotels of the World 2014 Annual Conference — Understanding the Rise of China
10.45am: Private Event
Keynote address at The Asset 9th Asian Bond Markets Summit 2014 — China Today, Your World Tomorrow
3.15pm: Private Event
Business China Singapore, Eminent Speakers Series — Why China Will Be a Very Different Kind of Great Power
6.30pm: Furama RiverFront Grand Ballroom, Level 3
Stuart Hall Memorial
2.30 — 6.00pm: By invitation only
3rd Confucius Institute Annual Lecture at the University of Lancaster — 'The Rise of China: How China will Change Almost Everything'
6.00 – 7.30pm: Faraday Lecture Theatre, Lancaster University
For more information, and to register for the event, click here
04/10/14 — United Morning Post (Singapore)
30/09/14 — Diplomacy Magazine (Gaiko)
30/09/14 — Diplomacy Magazine (Gaiko)
18/05/14 - Nihon Keizai Shimbun
12/05/14 - Yomiuri Shimbun