China is not emerging from a vacuum. It has a well-documented history of excellence, writes Jeffrey Sehume.

Johannesburg – For conscientious researchers the exercise of studying societies removed from the mainstream is not simply to collect information and gather facts.

For these researchers, keen to loosen the mysteries behind the formerly unknown, the journey is to evaluate “new” experiences, to perhaps draw comparative lessons. Ultimately, this is done in order to illuminate the past, improve understanding about the present, and inform the future. The People’s Republic of China has drawn the interest of lay researchers and scholars since that country began to open up in 1978.

Interest in this strikingly different society has tended to focus on unravelling the political and economic frameworks responsible for its status as a powerhouse for the new millennium.

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Napoleon Bonaparte once said of China, “Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” A spate of articles and books has appeared on the rise of China and its possible domination of the world. The Middle Kingdom has received special attention because it is ideologically and culturally different from the West. Military strategists and geopolitical thinkers have their own concerns: the country’s leadership does not make its political ambitions clear, nor has the military been open about the degree of its expansion.

The United States still remains the sole superpower but with the rise of “the rest,” particularly China, the present structure of the world order will eventually be reconfigured. In reality, China is not rising but as Aaron Friedberg states, “it is returning to the position of regional pre-eminence that it once held.” Indeed, China dominated that region for centuries. Among those who argue that China will rule the world in the near future is Martin Jacques – a British journalist who is the author of When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New World Order.

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Amid rumours that the transition to a new Chinese leadership will take place in mid-October, a key player in the Bo Xilai affair has just been charged in Chengdu. The affair, the biggest scandal in the People’s Republic in decades, has all of the ingredients to derail plans for a “smooth transition”—but Communist authorities are doing everything in their power to ensure that it doesn’t.

Driving from the airport into the Dongcheng district of central Beijing last Saturday, I noticed the signs and signifiers of China’s economic heft were all present and accounted for—the glass and concrete towers of the financial institutions that act as the world’s bankers, the logos of the mining conglomerates that bring in the resources to fire the country’s (still) prodigious growth, the porticos of the luxury hotels where some of the planet’s biggest deals are negotiated and sealed. There were also, of course, the brutalist facades of the Chinese parastatals, which, like the ubiquitous black Audis of the party apparatchiks, signified that you were no longer in Kansas, Dorothy.

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Dr Odera Outa’s article “DO NOT WRITE OFF AMERICA JUST YET”[Star May 22,2012] is indeed dogmatic and oblivious current development in Asia and Kipling’s warning against British imperial hubris seen relevant to America to-day.

As Paul Kennedy a professor of History at Yale University has observed in Newsweek of February 2003,”the U.S. Military budget will soon be equal to that of all countries in the world combined.” Yet hawkish policy makers in Washington are concerned that the U.S. defense forces are dangerously thin and overstretched. How can both facts be true?

A book by Martin Jacques, “When China Rules the World” provides adequate and sacinet answers to economic rise in Asia. The book is a compelling and thought provocative analysis of global economic trends that defies the common western assumptions that to be fully modern, a nation must become democratic, financially transparent and legally accountable. Jacques argues persuasively that China is on track to take over as the World’s dominant power and that when it does, it will make the rules on its own terms, with little regard for what existed before.

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June 2012 - Indwe Magazine (Inflight Magazine of SA Express Airways)

– Maike Curry

Racism is a subject that people often seek to avoid, it being deemed too politically embarrassing, any suggestion of its existence often eliciting a response of outraged indignation and immediate denial. Yet it is central to the discourse of most, if not all, societies.

So writes Martin Jacques in his recent book When China Rules the World: the rise of the Middle Kingdom [China] and the end of the Western World. Well, he certainly did not have South Africa uppermost in mind where the topic of racism is far from “politically embarrassing” to raise, but rather a political embarrassment as it is endlessly and gratuitously raised to shroud the real issues. Just take the Caster Semenya and Brandon Huntley hullabaloos for a start, not to mention rugby and nearly every time Julius Malema opens his mouth.

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