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.
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.
The following article by Martin Jacques appeared in China Daily, 20th January 2018.
As momentous historic events go, China’s reform period was relatively unheralded. Little did anyone realise 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. Read more >
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 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.