Oceania

WHEN economist Jane Golley joined the federal Treasury in 1994, she was assigned to a single-person desk overseeing China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea.

It was only a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the United States was at the apex of its power and influence. Francis Fukuyama, a noted American scholar, confidently predicted the ”end of history” – a scenario where the entire world would embrace America’s brand of liberal democracy and capitalism.

Fast-forward 18 years and the global financial crisis has humbled the once-mighty US. China is within striking distance of overtaking the US as the largest economy in the world and Americans are awake to the reality that China – as Hillary Clinton famously put to Kevin Rudd – is their largest banker, by virtue of the central government’s multi-trillion dollar holdings in US treasuries.

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The rise of China is reshaping the world in profound ways that are bringing about new political, cultural, intellectual, moral and military consequences, and yet we mistakenly continue to view China from a Western perspective, according to author and China academic Martin Jacques. He recently gave a lecture on the topic for Sydney University’s China Studies Centre and Sydney Ideas.

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Australia is leading the West into a new era of Chinese ascendancy, according to author and China-expert Martin Jacques.‬

‪‘You are incredibly privileged because you are the pioneer Western country as we move into a completely new historical era in which China is dominant,’ he said.‬
‪ ‪As part of his only public appearance in Melbourne, Jacques introduced an audience of over 300 to the updated version of his best-selling book ‘When China Rules the World’ and acknowledged Australia’s place on the ‘cutting edge’ of relations with China.‬

‪He also warned that it is ‘no longer a Western economy’.‬

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The aftermath of China’s fatal high-speed rail crash in July was a reminder that the foundations of the country’s remarkable economic growth are perhaps not as solid as some may suggest.

With the outpouring of anger and grief came a series of accusations over what was to blame for the crash, corruption, cheap equipment and botched reverse-engineering among them. It was barely the best advert for a new rail network that was supposed to be yet another signal of China’s arrival as a modern global superpower.

Of course the West still looks on at China with envy; its growth rate remains at a level most can only dream of. China has revelled in the role of the white knight riding to the rescue of the global economy, buying up US and European debt and even lecturing the US on fiscal responsibility.

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Not for the first nor the last time, I regret the long-ago death of Rewi Alley, the New Zealander who is one of China’s acclaimed heroes.

He devoted 60 years to setting up schools and thousands of industrial co-operatives there. He wrote of them “fitting into the vast landscape of rural China”. His slogan was: “Yo Banfa!” – “There is a way.” He retained independent views in a country where such attitudes were suspect – and still are. His mana was unquestioned.

In particular, I remember a long conversation with him in Beijing in 1983, when he talked gloomily of his deep misgivings about China’s dogmatic one-child family policy. He feared for the effects on the domestic and family life of the nation he loved, a doubt amounting to communist heresy.

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Napoleon was right. Okay, so he was tragically wrong deciding to go on his long march to Moscow. But over China he was spot on.

The actual words and the timing of his quote vary but they all match. Example: Historians say that in 1803 he once pointed on a map to China, then a distant and little-known place, and said: “Here lies a sleeping giant. Let him sleep, for when he wakes he will shock the world.”

No question Napoleon was basing his concerns on the reports of Jesuit missionaries who had then been in China for two centuries, some of them with the ear of the emperor as confidantes in the Forbidden City.

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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