East Asia

Which direction now? A lot of China writers like to think they have the answer

A Texas-based media-tracking organization recently announced that it had concluded, via a sophisticated statistical analysis of news sources, that China’s leapfrog up the global economic hierarchy was the top story of the past decade. This claim is debatable: the Iraq War, climate change, terrorism and the financial crisis all garnered plenty of headlines. Still, there has certainly been a dramatic upsurge in fascination with and concern over the People’s Republic — and a concomitant proliferation of Big China Books, as I like to call works that carry titles that cry out to be put in bold type.

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ComScore, Inc, a leader in measuring the digital world, just released a study on growth in the global search market for 2009 and showed that searches have grown 46% globally. The study revealed that the U.S. remains the largest search market worldwide, while Google retains a commanding lead in the worldwide search market. The U.S. grew 22% from December 2008 to December 2009, with 22.7 billion searches, while China followed with 13.3 billion searches, but only grew 13% year over year.

The total worldwide search market boasted more than 131 billion searches conducted by people age 15 or older from home and work locations in December 2009, representing a 46-percent increase in the past year. This number represents more than 4 billion searches per day, 175 million per hour, and 29 million per minute.

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It’s no coincidence that America’s national anxiety about China has surfaced in tandem with our greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression

Conventional wisdom has long held that China is the most likely emergent superpower to rival US supremacy, but over the past few months, this fear — the West’s greatest since the Cold War — has gained a specific sense of urgency. In a recent poll by Foreign Policy magazine, 71% of thinkers picked China as the next global superpower, and Chinese president Hu Jintao as the world’s most crucial leader — aside from President Obama.

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Google’s defeat foretells the day when Beijing rules the world

The blunt truth is that most Western forecasters have been wrong about China for the past 30 years. They have claimed that Chinese economic growth was exaggerated, that a big crisis was imminent, that state controls would fade away, and that exposure to global media, notably the Internet, would steadily undermine the Communist Party’s authority. The reason why China forecasting has such a poor track record is that Westerners constantly invoke the model and experience of the West to explain China, and it is a false prophet. Until we start trying to understand China on its own terms, rather than as a Western-style nation in the making, we will continue to get it wrong.

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Americans and Europeans blithely assume that China will become more like them as its economy develops and its population gets richer. This is a mirage, Jacques says

Thirty years ago, China had a tiny footprint on the global economy and little influence outside its borders, save for a few countries with which it had close political and military relationships. Today, the country is a remarkable economic power: the world’s manufacturing workshop, its foremost financier, a leading investor across the globe from Africa to Latin America, and, increasingly, a major source of research and development.

The Chinese government sits atop an astonishing level of foreign reserves — greater than $2 trillion. There is not a single business anywhere in the world that has not felt China’s impact, either as a low-cost supplier, or more threateningly, as a formidable competitor.

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The credit crisis is just over a year old and already there are dozens of books on the market to explain its causes or cure its ills

Most are not worth the time it takes to read them, according to a handful of money managers and market strategists who agreed to take part in an informal survey. The books either contain too few insights, they go over old ground, or they just get it wrong.

— “Too many of the books about the crisis are fluffy,” said Yale professor and economist Robert Shiller, who was among the most vocal sages predicting the real estate bust. Of all the books he read last year, only a few were sufficiently serious. One was “This Time is Different,” a history of 800 years of financial schemes-gone-wrong written by University of Maryland economics professor Carmen Reinhart and Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff.

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In his book ‘When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a new Global Order,’ Martin Jacques argues that China is not only ascendant economically. It is also on a path to marginalize the West and change global conceptions of what is modernity. Does this include modern communication?

In mid-December I visited Wuhan, China, in Hubei Province where Wuhan University’s School of Journalism and Mass Media held a conference on Intercultural Communication and Journalism Ethics, attended by perhaps one hundred scholars mostly from China or greater China. I made a presentation there on the relevance of Habermas’s treatment of modernity for the analysis of Chinese culture. And then traveled to Chengdu, Sichuan Province, to deliver a lecture on comparative forms of political legitimacy and the role of communication in relation to each, at the Department of Literature and Journalism in Sichuan University.

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The regional scenario of inter-state relations is the result of clear trends: the continuing rise of China, the diplomatic activism of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and America’s current economic decline.

The dawn of 2010 has brought with it expectations of a greater degree of economic cooperation among the politically diverse states of East Asia. In realpolitik terms, the dominant role of the United States — or as its critics say, its domineering presence in East Asia — may be just beginning to fade. Emerging already are political signs that a new ecosystem of inter-state ties is slowly evolving in the region.

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The coming U.S. population boom will bring new economic vitality; the resurgence of Fargo

America’s population growth makes it a notable outlier among the advanced industrialized countries. The country boasts a fertility rate 50% higher than that of Russia, Germany or Japan and well above that of China, Italy, Singapore, North Korea and virtually all of eastern Europe. Add to that the even greater impact of continued large-scale immigration to America from around the world. By the year 2050, the U.S. population will swell by roughly 100 million, and the country’s demographic vitality will drive its economic resilience in the coming decades.

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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