Media Archive

People's Daily

23 March 2020

During January the onslaught in the Western media, notably the US and the UK, against the Chinese government’s handling of the Covid-19 epidemic, was merciless. The Chinese government stood accused of an inhumane attitude towards its people, secrecy, a cover-up, and an overwhelming concern for its own survival above all other considerations. The actual evidence was thin bordering at times on the threadbare but this made little difference to the venom and bile of the assault.

Certainly, it seems clear, there was a deliberate attempt to forestall and hinder the necessary timely action in Wuhan, and more widely in Hubei, but with the benefit of hindsight the time lost as a result proved relatively marginal compared with that lost in the West in their belief that it could not possibly happen to them, that China was to blame, and in their failure to learn from China’s experience.

To have used the tragedy of the coronavirus epidemic, with all the deaths, illness and suffering that ensued, as a stick with which to beat the Chinese government – and the Chinese people – was nothing short of a disgrace. When the Chinese needed compassion, support and solidarity, they received ridicule, calumny and barely-concealed racism.  One might ask why this was. Western prejudice against China is historically deeply-rooted and continues to influence contemporary Western attitudes. Over the last few years, however, especially since around 2016, the incidence of China-bashing has become much more common. There has been a growing sense of resentment towards China’s rise, especially and predictably in the US, but elsewhere too, combined with a desire to reassert and restore the old global pecking order and the established economic, political and ethnic hierarchies.

The main subject of China-bashing has been its governing system. The coronavirus epidemic offered, on the surface at least, ideal ground on which to attack China’s governance: it was covering up, it didn’t care, its own survival came first. How wrong and misconceived these West prejudices proved to be. After initial dithering, hesitation, and wrong-turns, once China grasped the nature and profound dangers that the virus posed for the Chinese people, its approach was nothing short of brilliant, an example and inspiration for all. For China, we must never forget that it was an entirely new and mysterious challenge. All subsequent countries could learn from China’s experience. China did not even know what the virus was. It had to establish that it was entirely new and work out its genome and its characteristics, which it immediately shared with the world. And it grasped with remarkable alacrity that the epidemic required the most dramatic measures, including the lockdown not just of Wuhan but all major cities and most of the country, and quarantining the population. The government understood that life came before the economy. Its extraordinary and decisive leadership met with an equally extraordinary and proactive response from the people: it was a classic case of the government and the people as one.    

The results are there for all to see. New cases have been reduced to a trickle. Slowly, step by step, the economy is being rekindled. Bit by bit China is returning to normal. For those wanting to avoid coronavirus, China is fast becoming the safest place on earth. Indeed, China’s problem is fast becoming visiting foreign tourists suffering from the virus and reintroducing it into their country. Meanwhile Europe and North America are facing a coronavirus tsunami: Italy is the worst case but others such as Spain, France, Germany and the UK are rapidly following in its slipstream. Soon the whole of Europe will be engulfed in the epidemic. And America, far from being immune, as President Trump believed, has itself declared a state of emergency to deal with a virus which it dismissed and ignored as a ‘foreign virus’. The West – and, above all, its people – are destined to pay a huge price for its hubris, its belief that coronavirus was a Chinese problem that could never become a Western problem. Too late, alas, having wasted all the time that China gave them, all the knowledge that China had acquired on how to tackle the virus, Western governments are now faced with a fearful challenge. Back in January they accused the Chinese government of wasting a fortnight; now it is revealed to the world that Western governments wasted a minimum of two and a half months.

The tide has turned. In the greatest health crisis for one hundred years, China’s governance has risen to the challenge and delivered a mortal blow to coronavirus. In contrast, Western governance has proven to be blinded by its own hubris, unable to learn from China until far too late, ill-equipped to grasp the kind of radical action that is required of it. Trump is still largely in denial, while the UK government is acting far too late. I cannot think of any other example which so patently reveals the sheer competence and capacity of Chinese governance and the inferiority and infirmity of Western governance. In their hour of need, the latter has let their peoples down. Meanwhile the Western criticism of China has fallen almost, but not quite entirely, silent. They have no alternative, as Italy shows, but to learn from China’s draconian measures. What else can they do? China has succeeded. They have, in truth, nowhere else to turn. Learn from China they must. But for many it is a bitter pill to swallow. The wheels of history are turning, irresistibly, towards China. And China must respond in humility by offering all the assistance and experience it can offer the West.

Martin Jacques

The Chinese version of the article can be read in the document below.



由于新冠肺炎疫情在中国之外迅速蔓延,世界卫生组织11日宣布疫情在全球构成“大流行”。为应对新冠病毒这个全人类共同的敌人,越来越多的声音在呼吁抛弃偏见,团结合作。须知,在过去这段中国是“主战场”的时期,从病毒名称到抗疫举措及社会制度,中国均遭遇西方一些媒体及政客的持续攻击,甚至眼下欧美疫情急转直下,他们也要“甩锅”中国。《环球时报》记者近日专访英国剑桥大学政治学与国际关系系高级研究员 、“ 中国通 ”马丁 · 雅克,听他从一个西方人的视角解读这一现象。

























【环球时报驻英国特约记者 孙微】

Interview with Global Times

2 March 2020

Martin Jacques Photo: Sun Wei in London/GT

1. After more than a month since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, the epidemic has been coming under control inside the country. How do you evaluate China’s efforts in the fight against the epidemic?

Judging by the situation now, China seems to have got on top of it, with the number of new cases declining. By and large, it looks as if China has managed to restrict the worst of it to Wuhan in Hubei Province. I think that the situation is looking encouraging.

2. Some people view the epidemic as an assessment of different political systems. How do you evaluate the measures taken by different countries such as China, Japan and South Korea?

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Martin Jacques assesses the role and continuing rise of China in the decade 2010 to 2019 in an article published in the Guardian on 31st December 2019.

By 2010, China was beginning to have an impact on the global consciousness in a new way. Prior to the western financial crisis, it had been seen as the new but very junior kid on the block. The financial crash changed all that. Before 2008 the conventional western wisdom had been that sooner or later China would suffer a big economic meltdown. It never did. Instead, the crisis happened in the west, with huge consequences for the latter’s stability and self-confidence.

Read the full article here.

Martin Jacques delivered the Keynote Speech, titled ‘China, The Philippines and a New World Order’, at a special conference organised by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines to a specially invited audience of leading government, media, and business figures, and ambassadors, in Manila on 10 September 2019.

Watch the interview below:

Martin Jacques delivered the Keynote Speech, titled ‘Beginnings of a New World Order: The Rise of China’, at This is Tomorrow, a Symposium organised by the University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR).

The sessions was chaired by Professor Nick Pearce, and held 12 September 2019 at Arts Lecture Theatre, The Edge, University of Bath.

Video copyright held by the University of Bath.

Martin Jacques joins Karen Davila on ANC Headstart to talk about the ongoing US-China trade war, China’s handling of the situation in Hong Kong and why he thinks President Duterte’s pivot to China is the right decision.

Watch the interview below: