East Asia

The West has gotten it wrong on China for decades – even as it embraces a market economy, it has shunned Western-style freedoms. And its power is only growing

The dynamics of President Obama’s trip to China were markedly different from those evident on visits made by President Clinton and President George W. Bush. This time the Chinese made clear that they were unwilling even to discuss issues such as human rights or free speech. Why? The relationship between the countries has changed: America feels weak and China strong in their bilateral ties. This is not a temporary shift that will reverse itself once the U.S. has escaped from its mountain of debt. Rather, it is the expression of a deep and progressive shift in the balance of power between the two nations, one that is giving the Chinese — though studiously cautious in their approach — a rising sense of self-confidence.

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If ever proof was needed of the disconnect between the Mainstream Media (MSM) and reality, it was on show this week.  While the pundits lamented that Obama looked weak during his 9 day trip to Asia, Amy Goodman was interviewing British writer Martin Jacques (pronounced Jakes) about his new book:  “When China Rules the World”.

According to Jacques, China isn’t so much a nation-state as a “civilization state”.  In other words, while nation states didn’t form until the second millennium of our era, this vast country has shared one civilization for a couple of thousand years.  China’s civilization is China, even today.  That civilization was China under a long line of Emperors, under Mao’s communism and the Great Leap Forward, and it’s still China under Hu Jintao’s state capitalism.

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The president’s visit to China was seen as failure, but what if that was just the new standard? Martin Jacques on why the U.S. must get used to decline—and learn humility

Obama’s visit to China last week was starkly different from previous such occasions. The United States has stumbled into a new era. Just a decade ago it all looked so different. President Bush—in one of history’s great miscalculations—believed that the world stood on the verge of a new American century. In fact, the opposite was the case. The defeat of the Soviet Union flattered only to deceive and mislead. In a world increasingly defined by the rise of the developing countries, most notably China, the United States was, in fact, in relative decline. It took the global financial crisis to begin to convince the U.S. that it could no longer take its global supremacy for granted. This dawning realisation has come desperately late in the day. Even now most of the country remains in denial. Never has a great power been less prepared or equipped to face its own decline.

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Last week a Tibetan mastiff was flown into Xian airport in central China, where it received a welcome fit for an emperor.

The dog was swept into town by a convoy of 30 Mercedes-Benz cars. Tibetan mastiffs are a rare and noble breed – and the pampered pooch had cost his new owners Rmb4m ($586,000, €402,000, £351,000). Reporting the story, the China Daily newspaper commented nervously that such an extravagant display of wealth might “heighten tension between rich and poor”.

This shaggy dog story is just a particularly weird example of the new wealth of modern China. When I last visited the Pudong district of Shanghai, in the mid-1990s, it was a ramshackle area of factories and warehouses. Last week, I found it transformed into a forest of neon-lit, modernist skyscrapers. China has shrugged off the global recession and should grow by 8 per cent in 2009.

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Friday morning, British author Martin Jacques talked about his new book, “When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order.” As one listener noted, it’s a great title for getting attention for the book. However, the book itself is less hyperbolic than the title and offers food for thought about how little Jacques thinks China is likely to change as it grows into the world’s dominant economy.

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A new study shows that democracy and prosperity are inextricably linked.

With autocratic states like China and Russia looking poised for economic recovery, it’s often hard to make the case for ideals such as democracy and rule of law. To some, like Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules, autocrats seem destined to rule the world economy.

A columnist for the Guardian, Jacques predicted that by 2050 China will easily surpass America economically, militarily and politically. The belief in the power of autocracy even extends to such leading American capitalists as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have nothing but high praise for what Gates enthusiastically describes as a “brand-new form of capitalism.”

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China’s global vision may not augur well for India

Barely three weeks after top officials, including the national security adviser, berated the media for Sinophobia and war hysteria, New Delhi has been stung by what it regards as an astonishing lack of reciprocity from Beijing. It is one thing for China to routinely issue proforma denunciations of the “splittist Dalai clique” and object to every journey undertaken by the exiled Tibetan leader. Yet, even by the exalted standards of Chinese insensitivity, the protest against the visit of the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to Arunachal Pradesh for an election rally took the proverbial biscuit.

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KUALA LUMPUR — In her relationship with Malaysia, be it bilateral or at the regional level, Beijing has always been willing to listen and suggest cooperative endeavours for all-round benefits, said Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman. He said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had made a most successful visit to China earlier this year where he was warmly received.

Anifah said a number of new areas for cooperation were also identified which Malaysia was looking forward to jointly pursue. He said during the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis when the West turned its back on East Asia, China did not devalue the Renminbi to ensure countries in trouble did not get deeper in it and proposed swap arrangements for those with balance-of-payments difficulties.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman believes that there is a small group of people with “ulterior motives” playing up supposedly contentious issues between Malaysia and Indonesia.

In his meeting with his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta on Thursday, he said they will discuss why a small group of people in Indonesia kept on playing up the Pendet dance issue despite the explanation given by the Discovery Channel to the relevant authorities. Anifah said he was confident that the small group of people who were repeatedly playing up the issue had ulterior motives.

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Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman leaves for Jakarta tomorrow for a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Dr Hassan Wirajuda on Thursday in the wake of anti-Malaysian incidents and media reports there. Anifah also hoped he would get to call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his brief visit to the Indonesian capital.

“I think it is only proper that we meet and discuss and see how to ease the tension and possibly find out what transpired in Indonesia concerning a couple of issues highlighted in the media in Indonesia and see how best to overcome, tackle or minimise the negative perception by a small section of people there,” he said of his meeting with Hassan.

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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