There is no point in believing we can make sense of China by a skin-deep knowledge of present-day China. We will be little the wiser. Chinese civilization is over 4,000 years old: as a political entity it is over 2,000 years old, the longest continuously existing polity in the world. Chinese history and culture is fundamentally different from that of the West: it always has been and always will be. So best to dispense with our Western-tinted spectacles and open our minds to arguably the world’s most successful civilization. China has been the most advanced country not just once but at least four times; and we are on the verge of this becoming five. A country, a culture and a people with the most extraordinary history that is fast becoming the magnet of the future.
We have entered a New Cold War. The US is attacking on China on many fronts. It cannot accept China’s rise. Like all hegemons, it cannot imagine a world in which it is no longer dominant. But in reality the US is in rapid relative decline. Its dominance has become an anachronism. The fact is that an international system led by China and the developing world will be much superior to one characterised by Western dominance, with the US and Europe accounting for less than 15% of the world’s population.
Lawrence Summers, former US Treasury Secretary, was interviewed by The Point on how he saw the present state of US-China relations. In this interview, Martin Jacques responds to Summers’s points. Moderated by Liu Xin.
Last year was a year to forget for Hong Kong. For months there was serious unrest and rioting. China is now introducing national security legislation. Will this restore stability? And if it does, will it work? How do the Chinese win the hearts and minds of the Hong Kong population? The attitudes of Hong Kong’s population can only be understood in terms of over 150 years of British colonialism. Part of the problem is that the people are experiencing a profound crisis of identity. Interview with Fu Xiaotian.
From the outset, Covid-19 was highly politicised. The Western media and politicians attacked China in January for its alleged tardy reaction and a cover-up. And when the pandemic reached Western countries their attacks on China intensified, presumably to try and distract attention from their own abysmal performance, most notably that of the US and the UK. Does Covid-19 mark the lowest point in recent US-China relations? Will they get worse? How might the process be reversed? Interview with Liu Xin.
China and the US come from profoundly different historical and cultural roots. At a very basic level the West simply does not understand China and makes no real attempt to do so. The price of such an arrogant mentality, the result of a belief in Western universalism, is profound ignorance about China. As China rises to become the global leader, this ignorance is going to haunt the West for many decades to come. Interview with Fu Xiaotian.
Martin Jacques discusses Chinese governance with People’s Daily Online on 5 July 2019.
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Dr Yu Jie and Martin Jacques discussed the US/China Trade War with Jon Snow on Channel 4 News on 13 May 2019.
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Dr Yu Jie researches China’s economic policy at Chatham House. Martin Jacques is a senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University and a visiting professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing.