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The rise of China is the most-read news story of the last decade, according to new research published by Texas-based Global Language Monitor

You won’t be surprised to hear that for someone who earns his crust writing about China’s rise, this is gratifying news.

It’s also mildly surprising. In the news trade China is essentially a ‘glacier’ story – huge, unstoppable but moving in increments that only become discernible over time. Everyone registers China’s growing importance, but too often the drip-drip nature of the story keeps off the top of the news agenda.

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Washington Post critics pick their favorite novels, biographies, mysteries, memoirs and more.

WHEN CHINA RULES THE WORLD, by Martin Jacques (Penguin, $29.95). A compelling and thought-provoking analysis of global trends that defies common Western assumptions.

– Seth Faison

Since 1945 the United States has been the world’s dominant power. Even during the Cold War its economy was far more advanced than, and more than twice as large as, that of the Soviet Union, while its military capability and technological sophistication were much superior. Following the Second World War, the US was the prime mover in the creation of a range of multinational and global institutions, such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and NATO, which were testament to its new-found global power and authority. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 greatly enhanced America’s pre-eminent position, eliminating its main adversary and resulting in the territories and countries of the former Soviet bloc opening their markets and turning in many cases to the US for aid and support.

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Conventional wisdom can be devilishly hard to dispute. For example, most pundits agree that the Great Recession helped China more than any other state. At first glance, this claim seems obviously true. Unlike the United States and the other major Western powers, which saw their economies plummet and their financial institutions come close to ruin, the Chinese economy has kept on growing. Chinese financial institutions, considered technically insolvent only a few years ago, now boast balance sheets and market capitalizations that Western banks can only dream of. With its economy expected to grow at 9 percent in 2010, China will soon surpass Japan as the world’s second-largest economy (measured in U.S. dollars). Pundits like Martin Jacques, a veteran British journalist, are predicting that China will soon rule the world — figuratively, if not literally.

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Since 1945 the United States has been the world’s dominant power. Even during the Cold War its economy was far more advanced than, and more than twice as large as, that of the Soviet Union, while its military capability and technological sophistication were much superior. Following the Second World War, the US was the prime mover in the creation of a range of multinational and global institutions, such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and NATO, which were testament to its new-found global power and authority. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 greatly enhanced America’s pre-eminent position, eliminating its main adversary and resulting in the territories and countries of the former Soviet bloc opening their markets and turning in many cases to the US for aid and support.

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The 21st century probably belongs to China, not America, a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics recently told an audience at UCLA. So the United States should try to better understand China and its culture in order to react responsibly to this changing world order.

Martin Jacques laid out the reasons for this at a well-attended talk Nov. 20 at Bunche Hall that also served as an introduction to the field of Chinese studies. He is a member of the School of Economics’ IDEAS center and author of a new book, “When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New World Order.”

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Here’s a reading list for Cathy Ashton, as she swots up for her first outing as EU High Representative next week

Poor Cathy Ashton has been given only seven days to master the key history books that explain modern Europe, before being flung into the maelstrom that will be the brand new job of High Representative of the European Union, it has been reported. It’s the ultimate “essay crisis”.

Last-minute panic revision still induces nightmares in graduates for several years after their finals — I still get them now, a quarter of a century later — so here’s a reading list for Baroness Ashton of Upholland on the basis that she can spend the whole week reading books at the rate of one a day. All were published in 2009 and each is written with scholarship, erudition and wit.

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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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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