Video

The West faces a huge intellectual challenge. It will never make sense of China until it understands China in Chinese rather than Western terms. Where are we now? Ever since 2017 the West has been going backwards. This is the Great Regression. The longer the West refuses to understand China, the less it will be able to understand the world. The challenge is stark: learn to understand China or become increasingly marginalised. This talk was given at King Henry Vlll School, my old school, in Coventry. I left in 1964 and this was the first time I had returned since then.

China is first and foremost a civilization-state. In contrast Western societies are nation-states. It is impossible to understand China through a Western prism. The consequences of China’s civilizational roots are far-reaching in every aspect of society, not least in governance. A Western-style political party would find governing China impossible. The skill-set is quite different. The success of the CPC has been its ability to express, reflect, and articulate Chinese civilization.

President Biden’s Dialogue on Democracy seeks to set the agenda and put China on the defensive. The problem is that Western democracy is in serious trouble, as the Insurrection at Capitol Hill in January demonstrated. Western democracy faces two deep problems. First, it is in trouble at home and losing support. Second, China has been out-performing the West in governance terms for several decades.

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The Thinkers Forum is held once a year under the auspices of the China Institute at Fudan University in Shanghai. It is always fascinating, always seeking to address new questions. This talk explores why the American order cannot survive, why we are transitioning to a post-Western world, and why it is not only premature to talk of Pax Sinica but wrong because it will be so different from Pax Americana and Pax Britannica. Finally, it explores why China needs to rethink the way it presents itself and deals with the West. Too often its messaging falls on deaf ears.

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Martin Jacques and Zhang Weiwei discuss why the great majority of Western commentary on China is misleading, ill-informed, simplistic and hopelessly biased. No real effort is made to understand China except in the most superficial terms. Western forecasts about China have proved hugely wide of the mark, be it concerning the economy or the stability and longevity of the Chinese government. Even when it is crystal-clear that China has performed brilliantly – most notably on the pandemic – the Western media has made little or no attempt to report the fact, preferring to smear and demonise. In the long run the West would be better served by honesty, sobriety and the truth. Because China’s rise is here to stay.

In this 30 minute interview, Martin Jacques discusses what America’s humiliating defeat in Afghanistan means for it and for the world. The last twenty years have been disastrous for the US, greatly reducing its standing in the world. There has been a chronic failure of political, economic and political leadership. And now there is no way back. Its influence is much diminished. What does all this mean for the so-called new Cold War?

There is virtually zero knowledge or understanding of the Chinese Communist Party in the West. It is seen as a clone of the Soviet Communist Party. In reality it is entirely different. It has been extraordinarily successful, not just transforming China but is also in the process of changing the world. Everyone needs to know about CPC and understand the reasons that lie behind its extraordinary success.

When will China replace the US as global leader? How do we assess the impact of China’s rise compared with that of previous hegemons? Why is the West so ignorant about China? What is the meaning of China as a civilization-state? How to understand the question of ethnicity in China? These are some of the issues discussed by Martin Jacques in this fascinating interview with Aaron Bastani from Novara. For the first time on video, Jacques discusses recent events in Xinjiang. And he argues that, contrary to the Western belief that China is incapable of change, history suggests the opposite, that more than any other culture, China has been extraordinarily adept at reinventing itself multiple times over the course of two millennia.
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