East Asia

Racism is a subject that people often seek to avoid, it being deemed too politically embarrassing, any suggestion of its existence often eliciting a response of outraged indignation and immediate denial. Yet it is central to the discourse of most, if not all, societies.

So writes Martin Jacques in his recent book When China Rules the World: the rise of the Middle Kingdom [China] and the end of the Western World. Well, he certainly did not have South Africa uppermost in mind where the topic of racism is far from “politically embarrassing” to raise, but rather a political embarrassment as it is endlessly and gratuitously raised to shroud the real issues. Just take the Caster Semenya and Brandon Huntley hullabaloos for a start, not to mention rugby and nearly every time Julius Malema opens his mouth.

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The predictor of Beijing’s rise and Washington’s decline in less than two decades from now gives his first Asian interview to China Daily

The man who says China is about to rule the world makes his way toward me at an exit of Wudaokou subway station. None of the Chinese people around us en­joying a sunny Saturday morning in this popular student hangout of northwestern Beijing would have any idea who this shaven-headed, slightly quirky figure was or even care.

They might be slightly more intrigued if they knew the man coming into view. Martin Jacques has written a book about them and their future that is already attracting major interest in the West.

Jacques in his sandals may be an unlikely vanguard for 1.3 billion people but nonetheless When China Rules the World, which argues the former Middle Kingdom will take over from the United States as the world’s leading power, is fuelling a huge debate.

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The Chinese state has a competence that far exceeds that of Western states

There is a standard Western reflex to any discussion about China: it is not democratic. True, but that does not get us very far. Nor was any Western country during its economic take-off; nor was Japan; and nor were the Asian tigers. The great majority of countries have not been democratic during their period of take-off: the most obvious, and remarkable, exception is India. As for China, about half the population still lives in the countryside, meaning that its economic take-off – the shift from agriculture to industry, from the countryside to the cities – still has a long way to run.

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The Uighur protests could strengthen the hand of China’s hardliners—at a cost to us all

After playing a constructive role at the London G20 summit in April, China gave $50bn to the IMF and dispatched ships to catch pirates off the Somali coast. Optimists will say that such good behaviour is a further sign of the long-term integration of China into the global economy and political system. They can point to 30 years of economic reform, the steady growth of personal freedom within China and even modest moves towards democracy, such as village elections in many provinces.

But recent events must give optimists pause for thought. On a visit to China in late June I was reminded that within the Chinese system there is a constant battle between liberals and authoritarians, and the hardliners have started to win more of the arguments. The violence in Xinjiang will only strengthen their hand. Most Chinese think that the government has been too soft on the Uighur rioters—and although China is not a democracy, public opinion (as revealed by comments on websites, at least) does influence policy. Even before the Uighur riots, last year’s protests in Tibet and the recent 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square had made China’s leaders wary of relaxing their authority. So had fears that the current economic crisis would lead to social instability.

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As a rule, one should not bother to criticise famous people for the thoughts contained in articles under their name

He or she almost certainly didn’t write it — and perhaps didn’t even think about it, either.

Nevertheless, it is hard to resist when a piece entitled “I was a fool to talk about admiring Hitler” appears under the name of Bernie Ecclestone, the British billionaire boss of Formula One racing. This was a commentary in The Times on Tuesday, attempting to quieten the furore that followed his remarks to the newspaper three days previously, to the effect that the Führer was his favourite dictator because: “Apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done.”

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Once people risked all to get in – now they are queueing up to escape. Hard times in Hong Kong have made China the new Mecca

For days and days it had rained, but nothing could dampen the spirits of the millions of Hong Kongers, and hundreds of thousands of tourists, who came to witness the handover of Hong Kong to China. It was June 30, 1997, and the British laid on a firework display to remember as Chris Patten, the last governor, boarded the royal yacht Britannia and made his exit. The next night the Chinese staged an even more stunning display across the water that divides Hong Kong island from the Kowloon side. Hong Kong was engulfed in optimism – on June 30 about the past, and on July 1 about its future. The only doubt that lingered, along with the whiff of gunpowder, was what the Chinese might do with their new possession.
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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