The West faces a huge intellectual challenge. It will never make sense of China until it understands China in Chinese rather than Western terms. Where are we now? Ever since 2017 the West has been going backwards. This is the Great Regression. The longer the West refuses to understand China, the less it will be able to understand the world. The challenge is stark: learn to understand China or become increasingly marginalised. This talk was given at King Henry Vlll School, my old school, in Coventry. I left in 1964 and this was the first time I had returned since then.
Let us travel back to 1991. The implosion of the Soviet Union. The end of the Cold War. The triumph of the United States. The implosion was greeted by the West as offering boundless opportunities. Anything was now possible. The world could be remade in the West’s own image. The constraints of the previous four decades disappeared. There was much talk of a New World Order. This was the unipolar moment: America had no rivals, it bestrode the world stage, it was no longer subject to the forces of gravity. Actually, if truth be told, it was a dangerous moment for America. Hubris went to its head, world domination beckoned. We can date the beginning of America’s rapid decline, now so rampant and obvious, from this moment. Read more >
China is first and foremost a civilization-state. In contrast Western societies are nation-states. It is impossible to understand China through a Western prism. The consequences of China’s civilizational roots are far-reaching in every aspect of society, not least in governance. A Western-style political party would find governing China impossible. The skill-set is quite different. The success of the CPC has been its ability to express, reflect, and articulate Chinese civilization.
President Biden’s Dialogue on Democracy seeks to set the agenda and put China on the defensive. The problem is that Western democracy is in serious trouble, as the Insurrection at Capitol Hill in January demonstrated. Western democracy faces two deep problems. First, it is in trouble at home and losing support. Second, China has been out-performing the West in governance terms for several decades.
Short but wide-ranging interview on what Common Prosperity means, the West’s response, and the changing phases of the West’s attitude towards China, with He Jieqiong, a new rising figure in the Chinese media.
The Thinkers Forum is held once a year under the auspices of the China Institute at Fudan University in Shanghai. It is always fascinating, always seeking to address new questions. This talk explores why the American order cannot survive, why we are transitioning to a post-Western world, and why it is not only premature to talk of Pax Sinica but wrong because it will be so different from Pax Americana and Pax Britannica. Finally, it explores why China needs to rethink the way it presents itself and deals with the West. Too often its messaging falls on deaf ears.
China and the US share two problems: acute inequality and the growing power of the tech giants. There, alas, the similarity ends: China is taking action on both fronts, the United States on neither. It should be the other way round. Both problems have been around a lot longer in the US than in China. The West should be watching and seeing what it might learn from China.
Only three ‘Historic Resolutions’ have ever been adopted by the Chinese Communist Party. They are a rare event and thus to be taken seriously. The one adopted in November 2021 has three striking characteristics: the emphasis on the historical continuity of the CPC; the sheer self-confidence that the resolution exudes; and the vigour and optimism with which it looks to the future. Decried and denounced it may be in the West, but the CPC is a remarkable organisation, by far the world’s most important political party.
Martin Jacques and Zhang Weiwei discuss why the great majority of Western commentary on China is misleading, ill-informed, simplistic and hopelessly biased. No real effort is made to understand China except in the most superficial terms. Western forecasts about China have proved hugely wide of the mark, be it concerning the economy or the stability and longevity of the Chinese government. Even when it is crystal-clear that China has performed brilliantly – most notably on the pandemic – the Western media has made little or no attempt to report the fact, preferring to smear and demonise. In the long run the West would be better served by honesty, sobriety and the truth. Because China’s rise is here to stay.