When China Rules The World

As UK-China ties continue to deteriorate, in this exclusive interview with the Chinese and English editions of Global Times, Martin Jacques shares his perspective on the UK decision to ban Huawei from its 5G network, its harsh stance on the national security law for Hong Kong, and the escalating tensions between the US and China.

GT: In your latest tweet, you described the Huawei ban as “an exercise in national suicide.” Could you elaborate further? What would the Huawei ban mean for the UK in a technological, geopolitical, and economic sense respectively?

Jacques: This is the context: Britain is leaving the European Union. This is to be finalised on  January 1, 2021. And the European Union was by far Britain’s biggest trading partner. So suddenly, there’s a big hole as a result of that. Now Britain has decided to end the relationship with Huawei and remove all Huawei equipment, and not have any Huawei 5G equipment. Inevitably, this affects in a very negative way the economic and trading relationship between Britain and China.
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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.

 

Nothing will be quite the same again. It raises many questions. Why the extreme China-bashing? Will US-China relations continue to worsen? How will China’s success and the West’s relative failure in dealing with the epidemic impact on the world? Will the trend towards nationalism grow? What will happen to globalisation? To migration? Will Chinese students ever return to Western universities in the same numbers? Interview with Anand Naidoo.

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.

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. Read more >

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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This review of Martin Jacques’ book ‘When China Rules the World’ was written by Iftikhar Ahmed and published in the Daily Times on 31 March 2019.

In his researched and far-reaching book when China rules the world published in the United States of America in 2009, Martin Jacques argues that we have only barely begun to understand what life will be like when China rules the world. Being modern is not necessarily being Western. Based on his extensive research work focused on Chinese history and comparative studies in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and some Asian study centres and his experience of writing columns for The Guardian and The Times of London, etc, Martin Jacques developed an insight into a frame of reference and a vision of the end of the western world and the birth of a new Global Order. He has been visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE ideas) a centre for the study of international affairs, diplomacy and grand strategy. Martin Jacques has been a visiting professor at the Renmim University, Beijing, the International Centre for Chinese studies, Aichi university and Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, and the senior visiting research fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. “When China rules the world” is the first book to explain how China’s meteoric rise will extend far beyond the economic realm, unseating the west and creating an entirely new global order. The role of economic and cultural relevance will, in our lifetimes, begin to pass from New York and London to cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. The West is deeply mistaken in believing that China is becoming more like the west. And increasingly powerful China will seek to shape the world in its own image, believes the author of this book. In a way Martin Jacques book is a groundbreaking investigation of how China’s rise as an economic superpower will alter the cultural, political and ethnic balance of global power in the 21st-century.

“When China rules the world”, an important book, full of historical understanding and realism, is about more than China. As suggested by the author, the ideas and assumption will be different, unlike that of the north Atlantic power. And that difference will define the influence of the expected new world order. The book is a look beyond China: full of bold but credible predictions. Only time will tell how prophecies pan out. Food for thought is plenty and hence the credit goes to the author for the foresight and insight. There is, however, need to follow the lines and accept the challenge to go in for serious research-based studies to formulate propositions and hypotheses that follow objectivity, data and assumptions that could be scientifically tested for unbiased and realistic workable conclusions. If assumptions are wrong, we can not arrive at objective, workable and realistic conclusions. The taste of pudding is in the eating. The end of the western world and the birth of the new global order depends on the quality of the world leadership and their concern for the people and the need for security, peace and justice, over and above basic human needs.

It is important to seriously attend to the content of the book to get a real feel of what the writer intends to communicate to the reader. One must get knowledge of major periods in Imperial China. One must understand the meaning of China’s Ignominy. One must grasp the concept of “contested modernity”. That mostly covers what the author has to communicate on the changing of the guard. Theme then takes the reader to the age of China :i.e, China as an economic superpower; the civilization-state; the middle kingdom mentality; China’s own backyard; and China as a rising global power. Systematically proceeding the next theme is the main idea- when China moves the world. Questions like “how sustainable is China’s economic growth?” and “what is the environmental dilemma?” have been discussed in the book.

The reason for China’s transformation has been the way it has succeeded in combining what it has learnt from the West, and also it’s Asian neighbours, with its own history and culture, thereby tapping and releasing its native sources of dynamism

There are many differences that define China. Economic change, fundamental as it may be, can only be part of the picture. This view, blind as it is, to the importance of politics and culture, rests on an underlying assumption the China, by virtue of its economic transformation will, in effect, become Western. Consciously or unconsciously, it sounds like Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’ view: that since 1989 the world has been converging on western liberal democracy. The other response, in contrast, is persistently sceptical about the rise of China, always half expecting it to end in failure. In the light of Maoism, the collapse of the Soviet union and the suppression of the students in the Tiananmen square, the argument runs, it is impossible for China to sustain its transformation without fundamental political change: unless it adopts the western model, it will fail. This book is predicated on a very different approach. It does not accept that the “western way” is the only viable model. It should be borne in mind that the West has seen off every major challenge it has faced, culminating in the defeat after 1989 of it’s greatest adversary, Soviet communism. It has formidable track record of growth and innovation, which is why it has proved such a dynamic force over such a long period of time.

The reason for China’s transformation has been the way it has succeeded in combining what it has learnt from the West, and also it’s Asian neighbours, with its own history and culture, thereby tapping and releasing its native sources of dynamism. We have moved from the era of either/or to one characterized by hybridity. Central to the book is the contention that far from there being a single modernity, they will in fact be many. Over the last half century we have witnessed emergence of quite new modernities, drawing on those of the West but ultimately dependent for their success on their ability to mobilize, build upon and transform the indigenous. These new modernities are no less original for their hybridity; indeed, their originality lies partly in that phenomenon.

The problem, as Paul A Cohen has pointed out, is that the Western mentality- nurtured and shaped by its long-term ascendancy- far from being imbued with cosmopolitan outlook as one might expect, is in fact highly parochial, believing in it’s own universalism: or in other words, it’s own rectitude and eternal relevance. If we already have the answers, and these are universally applicable, then there is little or nothing to learn from anyone else. While the west remained relatively unchallenged, as it has been for the best part of two centuries, the price of such arrogance has overwhelmingly been paid by others, as they were obliged to take heed of Western demands. But when the west comes under serious challenge, as it increasingly will from China and others, then such a parochial mentality will only serve to increase its vulnerability, weakening its ability to learn from others and to change accordingly.

Most of what is China today –it’s social relations and customs, it’s ways of being, its sense of superiority, it’s belief in the state, its commitment to unity– are all products of Chinese civilization rather than its recent incarnation as a nation-state. On the surface it seems like a nation state, but it’s geological formation is that of a civilization state. As China once again becomes the centre of the world, it will luxuriate in its history and feel that justice has finally been done, that it is restoring it’s the rightful position and status in the world. China is increasingly likely to conceive of its relationship with East Asia in terms of Tributary state, rather than nation state, system. The Tributary state system had lasted for thousands of years and finally came to an end at the conclusion of the 19th century. The rise of the developing world was only made possible by the end of colonialism. For the non-industrial world the colonial era overwhelmingly served to block the possibility of their industrialization. The land of colonialism was a precondition for what we are witnessing, the growth of multiple modernities and the world in which they are likely to prove at some point decisive. Chinese modernity will be very different from western modernity, and that China will transform the world far more fundamentally than any other new global power in the last two centuries. The West End powers cannot, however, comprehend that the change is on its way. On the other hand, what looks obvious also needs to be researched and subjected to scientific investigation. Facts must be identified and verified, and sociology of science must be understood.

 

The writer is a former director, National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA) Government of Pakistan, a political analyst, a public policy expert and a published author. His book “Post 9/11 Pakistan” was published in the United States. His latest book “Existential Question for Pakistan” discusses a large range of important issues related to governance and policy, having importance and implications for a variety of professionals, policymakers, academics, politicians and administrators.

The writer is a Formerly Director NIPA, Govt of Pakistan

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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