Articles on ‘When China Rules the World’

I refer to the letter “HK student protesters right to fight for democracy” (Oct 6). It was arguably the umpteenth time I heard that democratic change was needed regardless of the circumstances.

Firstly, could the writer clarify what contractual obligation Beijing reneged on? Article 45 of the Basic Law states: “The method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.” It is therefore the pro-democracy activists who want to change the Basic Law, not Beijing.

Secondly, as Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam pointed out (“Shanmugam: Beijing’s position on HK understandable”, Oct 6), Beijing’s perspective on the issue would be in the context of implications on the whole of China, not Hong Kong alone.

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This is about inequality, not politics, so democracy can’t fix the problem.

HONG KONG — The prevailing media narrative about the Hong Kong protest — namely that the citizens are politically dissatisfied and are fighting for democracy against the tyranny of Beijing — is false. What’s actually happening is this: A fringe of radical (or sometimes, more charitably, merely naive) ideologues are recasting the real and legitimate economic grievances of people here as a fight about Hong Kong’s autonomy. The movement is part of a global trend you might call maidancracy (rule of the square, from the infamous Maidan in central Kiev where the Ukrainian protests began). If carried out to its full extent, it will not end well for Hong Kong.

Maidancracy is an increasingly common post-Cold-War phenomenon. From the former Soviet Union to Southeast Asia, from the Arab world to Ukraine, it has affected the lives and futures of hundreds of millions of people. Hong Kong’s iteration shares certain characteristics with the ones in Cairo and Kiev: First, there is general popular discontent over the prevailing state of affairs and the region’s probable future. Second, while the foot soldiers are largely well-intentioned people with genuine concerns for their own welfare and that of the Hong Kong society, they are led by activists with a strong ideological agenda. As a result, their aim becomes the overthrow of the government or sometimes the entire political system. Third, the press relentlessly cheers them on and thereby amplifies the movement and turns it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fourth, democracy is always the banner.

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Nascent political movements are a little like the Hunger Games. The odds are almost never in the little guys’ favor, which is why we marvel at the fall of the Berlin Wall or the success of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Last week, Jeff Bader, the Obama administration’s former top adviser on Asia, gave a stark prediction: Hong Kong protestors will almost certainly fail in their demands for universal suffrage. The reality, Bader told the Washington Post, is “Beijing is quite intractable.”

Bader’s assessment is brutal, but fair.

There are, however, pundits who lack Bader’s discernment, and confuse saying “it’s unrealistic” with “it’s absurd.” They sway readers by obfuscating two lines of thinking: Something is difficult to obtain, ergo, it is unworthy of attempt.

Martin Jacques’s piece “China is Hong Kong’s Future, Not It’s Enemy” is a classic in this vein. Its logic flows thus:

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Hongkongers aren’t protesting because of economic resentment toward mainland China.

As Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Revolution” continues, Martin Jacques and others commentators have tried to pin the underlying causes on purely – or primarily – economic factors.  Although quality of life issues undeniably played a role in building up public discontent, the emerging narrative – which seeks to portray Hongkongers as ingrates resentful of Mainland China’s newfound economic success – is incomplete and misleading.

Hong Kong’s current system of governance has aptly been described as “the result of collusion between Hong Kong’s tycoons and Beijing’s Communists.”  Half of Hong Kong’s legislature is made up of “functional constituencies” representing “special interests.” The end result of this is that the 1,200-strong Election Committee that currently chooses Hong Kong’s Chief Executive disproportionately favors corporate interests.

This skewed institutional framework is a major contributor to a whole host of quality-of-life issues.  For example, the dispute over the high-speed rail public works project in 2010 – railroaded through the legislature despite significant public opposition – is a vivid illustration of the consequences of a political system in which business interests can run roughshod over other considerations.  Successive chief executives, too, have been able to ignore quality-of-life issues affecting the general public precisely because they are accountable only to their “constituents” and not the general electorate.

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World-renowned scholars on Wednesday expressed divided opinions on the way the Communist Party of China (CPC) is handling reforms in China at a dialogue held in Beijing.

The scholars, from various disciples, aired their views at the China’s Reforms: Particularities versus Commonalities session on the first day of The Party and the World Dialogue 2014.

The scholars, who came from all over the world, discussed the reform for almost half a day. Some suggested that the reforms are being correctly handled due to the wide participation of society. Others disagreed, saying that despite the achievements, the Party’s reforms are bound to fail due to a number of issues including the lack of a democratic political system and censorship. Some of the delegates suggested that China is role model for rapid development.

David Shambaugh, a professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University in the United States, outlined ten challenges that the CPC is facing in implementing and sustaining the reforms.

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Britain must stop lecturing China over human rights and start learning about Chinese culture or risk being marginalised in the new world order, a leading authority on China has warned.

Speaking at an event in Yorkshire, the author and academic Martin Jacques questioned whether the declining West could “grasp the future” and engage with China, which earlier this year overtook the United States as the world’s largest economy in purchasing power parity.

The shift in global power will have a profound political, intellectual, cultural and moral impact on international affairs, added Mr Jacques.

Mr Jacques said: “Britain is still caught in an obsolescent mindset, where we are still living in a world we are accustomed to rather than a world that is coming into existence.

“This requires a dramatic change in the way in which we think of ourselves and we think of the rest of the world and our place in the world.

“The arguments over Britain’s relationship with the European Union are a sideshow because that’s arguing over the placement of the furniture, it is not arguing about the shape of the house.

“The shape of the house is going to change very profoundly.”

The author of best-selling book When China Rules The World was speaking at an event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of a partnership between Leeds Metropolitan University and the College of Management at Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou, China.

He explained to an audience of Yorkshire business leaders and academics how China, a nation of 1.3bn people, has been through a process of radical transformation since launching a programme of reforms in 1978.

China’s economy has grown at a rate of 10 per cent a year and by 2030 is forecast to be twice the size of the US economy and greater than the US and European economies put together, according to Mr Jacques.

He said Chinese people are very optimistic about their future prosperity, compared to those in the West who are displaying levels of pessimism not seen since the 1930s.

But as China becomes the dominant global player it is a mistake to think it will become more Western, argued Mr Jacques.

“This is own hubris, this is our own arrogance. China is different,” he said.

Instead, the West must work to understand China and its history and culture, he added.

Mr Jacques described China as a “civilisation state” with more than 2,000 years of history, which places great importance on unity, stability and order.

In contrast, the default mode of Europe is fragmentation into lots of nation states, he said. And just because past empires of the West were aggressive and expansionist, it does not follow that China will be the same; Mr Jacques said China has a “stay at home” sense of universalism. He added: “Their attitude is ‘we are the most developed part of the world, our culture and our civilisation is superior to all others so why would we want to step outside China into darkened shades of barbarity?’”

China will seek to exercise its power and influence, but through economic and cultural means rather military or political, he added. As a consequence, for Westerners the world will become increasingly less familiar.

“We have been very privileged. The furniture of the world has been our furniture, our creation. That’s not going to continue in the future,” he warned.

“The question is, can we adapt to this? This is going to be an enormous historical shock.”

In response, Britons should learn Mandarin and political leaders should stop lecturing their Chinese counterparts over human rights and learn about Chinese culture.

- Bernard Ginns

A LEADING authority on the rise of China will explain how he thinks the world will change in response to the new global superpower.

Martin Jacques, the author, broadcaster and speaker, is visiting Yorkshire next month to deliver a lecture at Leeds Metropolitan University.

The institution is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its partnership with the College of Management at Zhejiang University of Technology in Hangzhou, China, with a series of guest lectures.

Mr Jacques is the author of the global bestseller ‘When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order’.

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President B. S. Aquino III apparently thought he and US President Barack Obama would be playing China together.  Obama said however that they’re not playing China right now, but that the US would defend the Philippines if attacked. This had some political pundits confused.  What exactly did Obama mean?

“The US has no plan to contain China.”  China is now the world’s largest trading nation, according to the latest statistics, and is outspending almost every other country on defense outside of the US. Many China-watchers  seem to believe China will soon rule the world—one global bestseller by Martin Jacques is entitled, “When China Rules the World. ” But  Obama did not come to Asia to embrace that position.

He obviously has a soft spot for B. S. III.  But he has seen how unmusical the guy is on any serious question.  Even when the guy appears headed in the right direction, he self-destructs as soon as he “vocalizes” his position.  Obama could not afford to let this loose cannon, this Philippine version of Kim Jong-un,  mess up things for Washington. He had to restrain his poodle.  It is within this context that one must read Obama’s statement.

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