Research trip to Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia

(Including interview with former Malaysian premier Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad)

‘Het succes van de AIIB is van historisch belang en brengt verdeeldheid tussen de VS en grote Europese landen. De VS heeft Azië alleen nog militaire macht te bieden, maar uiteindelijk is economische macht sterker’.
‘De verhouding tussen staat en maatschappij is in China anders dan bij ons. Prestaties geven de overheid populariteit en prestige. De maatschappij verandert snel en dat dwingt het systeem tot een ingrijpende modernisering.’

Prikkelende uitspraken over opkomst en duurzaamheid van het huidige China, door Martin Jacques.
Er lopen onder China-kenners op het moment twee discussies, waarvan de echo’s op ChinaSquare te vinden zijn. Een gaat over de opkomst van China, de andere over de duurzaamheid van het Chinese systeem. De bekende publicist Martin Jacques heeft op beide thema’s een uitgesproken visie. Niet iedereen zal het met hem eens zijn, maar weinigen zullen niet worden geïnspireerd of uitgedaagd door wat hij schrijft. Chinese media staan open voor zijn inbreng. We geven hieronder een samenvatting met citaten van zijn recente artikelen in Global Times(zie foto) en People’s Daily. Twee originele teksten, over opkomst en duurzaamheid van China nu, staan op zijn officiële persoonlijke website http://www.martinjacques.com/

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Chinese use the word “fever” to describe whatever is popular. And in China, “English fever” took hold soon after Deng Xiaoping launched the economic reforms that would eventually roil and reshape the country.

The first sign of that fever came one evening in 1982. The few Chinese who had a television set, mainly in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, saw a red-haired London woman and two Chinese men teaching English. Dull and pedantic, perhaps, to many in the western world — but it was electrifying to Chinese at the time.

The BBC crash course program called “Follow Me!” was the first foreign broadcast imported into a impoverished nation that had been closed off to the world for the better part of a century. Television was still a novelty. Oftentimes, entire villages would crowd around a single TV.

Kathy Flower, the British teacher in the program, recalled:

“For a while I shared with Mrs. Thatcher the role of the most recognized Brit in China, a position now held by David Beckham.”

Beijing’s National Center for Educational Technology bought the broadcast rights very cheaply, but the impact of “English fever” was unprecedented and continues to reverberate well beyond China today.

In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to penetrate foreign markets is an advantage. And China’s English-centric push for foreign language instruction as part of Deng’s economic reform remains an important pillar of the nation’s economic ascendency in today’s English-dominant world markets.

Consider: China now has a population of English speakers — some proficient, some still learning — that matches the entire population of the United States.

Starting in the third grade, Chinese are required to study English. Now, China is the world’s second largest economy, and its laptop computers, shoes and car parts are shipped around the world. In the U.S., by contrast, only 18% of Americans has any experience in a language other than English. American students are not required to learn a foreign language.

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BRITAIN’S recent decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founder member has led to a kind of stampede by other allies of the United States in Europe such as Germany, France and Italy to follow suit.

So did two other important Asia-Pacific allies, Australia and South Korea. The only other major US ally in Asia which did not was Japan.

What is striking is that these allies went against the express wishes of the US which apparently saw the AIIB as a potential challenge to the domination of the international financial architecture by the US-controlled World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Particularly stunning is the British decision. According to senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Britain’s Cambridge University Martin Jacques, in this year’s Boao Forum, this is the first time since Breton Woods in the 1940s, except for one occasion when Britain refused a US request to send troops to Vietnam, that Britain had ever said no to the US so publicly!

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THE deadline of March 31 has passed, and 52 countries are now on the list of would-be founders of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The China-led bank was launched in October last year at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, a year after Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a bank to offer funds for development projects during his official visit to Indonesia.

The initiative would promote regional inter-connectivity and economic integration, he said when delivering a speech at the Indonesian Parliament.

In the past few days leading up to the deadline, news of more countries hurrying to join the AIIB made headlines, especially when a few of them announced the decision at the recently concluded Boao Forum in Hainan province, which Xi officiated.

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Since World War II, the United States has been the most powerful state in world politics. Many analysts view a rising China as the most likely contender to end the American century. One recent book is even entitled “When China Rules the World.”

Most projections of Chinese power are based on the rapid growth rate of its GDP, and China may pass the United States in total economic size in the 2020s. But even then, it will be decades before it equals America in per capita income (a measure of the sophistication of an economy). China also has other significant power resources. In terms of basic resources, its territory is equal to that of the United States and its population is four times greater. It has the world’s largest army, more than 250 nuclear weapons, and modern capabilities in space and cyberspace. In soft power (the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than payment or coercion), China still lacks cultural industries able to compete with Hollywood; its universities are not top ranked; and it lacks the many non-governmental organizations that generate much of America’s soft or attractive power.

In the 1990s, I wrote that the rapid rise of China might cause the type of conflict predicted by Thucydides when he attributed the disastrous Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece to the rise in the power of Athens and the fear it created in Sparta. Today, I think that is unlikely, though some analysts flatly assert that China cannot rise peacefully. Many draw analogies to World War I, when Germany had surpassed Britain in industrial power. But we should also recall Thucydides’ other warning, that belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of its main causes. Each side, believing it will end up at war with the other, makes reasonable military preparations which then are read by the other side as confirmation of its worst fears.

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Onlangs publiceerden we citaten en een samenvatting van een pessimistisch artikel over China van professor Shambaugh. Indirect in antwoord daarop publiceerde Xinhua al op 13/3 een soort interview met Martin Jacques. We nemen het hier volledig over.

Het Westen heeft de neiging nu eens voor, dan weer tegen te zijn in het beeld dat het schetst van  China’s toekomst, maar de opkomst van China is een blijvend verschijnsel, aldus de Britse academicus Martin Jacques in een interview met Xinhua.

In een commentaar op het opflakkerende debat over “De eeuw van China” noemt Martin de reden hiervoor eenvoudig: het feit dat de ontwikkeling van China blijft doorgaan.

“Westerse commentaren over China zijn grillig en hebben de neiging negatief te zijn. En dan, van tijd tot tijd, lijken ze wakker te worden en zich te realiseren dat de trend zich doorzet” verklaarde de auteur van de internationale bestseller “When China Rules the World”.

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Observers say US, now increasingly isolated, should rethink its negative position on bank

Countries are rushing to join the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as the application deadline draws near, but the United States remains conspicuously absent.

Experts attending the annual Boao Forum for Asia in Boao, Hainan province, said the United States should reconsider its stance.

On Saturday alone, Russia, Brazil, the Netherlands and Denmark said they want to join AIIB as founding members. A day earlier, Georgia, Turkey and South Korea filed their applications.

Swedish officials at the Boao Forum also expressed interest, while the possibility grew that other northern European nations would follow.

As of Sunday, 42 countries had joined or applied to join the AIIB as founding members. They must wait two weeks before a final decision is made on April 12, the Finance Ministry said.

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Five years ago, Martin Jacques published When China Rules the World, followed by an extended paperback version in 2012. Perhaps only second to Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World, published a year earlier, Jacques’ book became a symbol of the global hype around the decline of the West and the “rise of the rest”, which was fuelled by the financial crisis in the United States. China, as a ‘civilization-state’, Jacques repeated in interviews across the world, would rise on its own terms. Its impact would be not only economic but also cultural and political, leading to a global future of ‘contested modernity’. Martin Jacques’ TED talk, which summarizes the main arguments of his book, has been watched over 2 million times over the past years, becoming one of the most popular International Affairs-related presentations on the online platform. The book has been translated into eleven languages, and sold over a quarter of a million copies worldwide.

Why was When China Rules the World such a massive success? After all, the chapters that deal with the West’s, Japan’s and China’s history (2, 3 and 4) hardly reveal anything new and can safely be skipped by those familiar with the subject, even though he rightly criticizes historians who regard the rise of Europe as an endogenous phenomenon. More importantly, however, his gentle treatment of Mao is somewhat disturbing, as is his explicit admiration for China’s Communist Party. In addition, Jacques’ thoughts on the future of global order and the recreation of the tributary system are both shallow and ill-conceived.

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Updated and expanded new Chinese edition just released.

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Turkish edition just published!

When China Rules the World is the first book to fully conceive of and explain the upheaval that China’s ascendance will cause and the realigned global power structure it will create.

New edition available now from:

Amazon UK
and all good booksellers.

US second edition is available now via: 

Amazon US