How When China Rules the World Got It Right
- At the time of publication many suggested China’s rise could not continue, and that the idea that China might usurp the United States as the dominant global power was doubtful at best. In fact, since the financial crisis, a combination of China’s rise and America’s decline has accelerated the process. It is now estimated that the Chinese economy will be bigger than the US economy by 2016, much sooner than 2027 as previously suggested.
- Indeed, contrary to the predictions of doomsayers – who argued that sooner or later (usually sooner!) the Chinese economy would hit the rocks, or there would be a major political convulsion, or both – the Chinese economy has continued to grow, while the Western financial crisis has devastated Europe and the US.
- Prior to the publication of When China Rules the World, discussion about China was almost purely economic; I argued that the economic rise of China would in fact lead to growing Chinese political, intellectual, ideological, cultural and military influence – influence which has already begun to manifest. There is a growing recognition that China will change the world, not only economically, but also politically, intellectually, ideologically and culturally.
- Rather than China westernising, I argued that its rise would lead to a growing sinification of the world. Although this is only in its infancy, there is an increasing recognition that this is likely to happen.
- There is now a growing discussion that, as I suggested, China’s rise would ultimately lead to a new kind of international system, not simply an adaptation of the present American-designed system. An illustration of this is the rise of the renminbi and a growing belief that it will replace the dollar as the world’s dominant currency.
- I argued that as China became stronger and more confident, it would increasingly look to its own history and traditions for inspiration and guidance rather than borrowing and imitating the West. There is now abundant evidence that this is happening. For example, Chinese foreign policy is increasingly looking at traditional Chinese teachings for its future direction.
- The book argued that China was and would continue to look to its relationship with the developing world rather the developed world as its first priority. This is exactly what is happening.
- The centre of gravity of global power is shifting remorselessly from the developed world to the developing world. In fact, the financial crisis has accelerated this process.
- Above all, the book argued that China is different from the West and will remain so: we can only understand China in its own terms not through a Western lens or a belief that China should be like us. Before the book was published, the latter was the overwhelmingly dominant view. It is still the dominant view in my opinion, but there is a growing body of opinion that this position is mistaken. My book has played the key role in this shift at an intellectual level but of course the most important factor has been China’s continuing transformation and the fact that it shows little sign of westernising.