Will China Dominate The 21st Century?
by Jonathan Fenby
(Polity Press, £9.99)
BEN CHACKO reviews Jonathan Fenby’s latest analysis of China’s chances
JONATHAN FENBY is one of Britain’s more knowledgeable China-watchers and his latest work on the subject deserves attention.
The book, however, ought really to take the title of its final chapter — Why China Will Not Dominate the 21st Century.
It reads rather like a refutation of Martin Jacques’s When China Rules the World, mirroring the latter even to the extent that both contain a section quoting attitude surveys “proving” that positive or negative views of China are the norm worldwide.
In this it is quite effective. Fenby relentlessly highlights China’s weaknesses, and in many respects he is right — right that China is nowhere near displacing the US as a global superpower, right that there is scant evidence that it wants to, right that it faces serious economic, political and environmental challenges which will keep its politicians’ focus firmly on their own country and not on attempts to become a world leader.
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The more China grows as a world power the more complicated its relations with the US become. But it is unlikely that China would ever resort to a military means to solve its disputes worldwide, China expert Martin Jacques told RT.
RT: It looks like Xi Jinping is going to adopt the foreign policy course of his predecessor, what will that mean for relations between Beijing and Washington?
Martin Jacques: It is no surprise that Xi Jinping is really expressing continuity because that is the whole way now the Chinese leadership is constructed. I mean, if it is going to shift, it is not going to shift now, it will shift several years down the road, I think. What will it mean for the relations with the United States?
The relations with the United States have steadily been getting more complicated, and I think the reason for that is because, before China was very much still a developing country and a much weaker global power than the United States. China, of course, has been growing like crazy and is more and more present around the world, in different continents, in different countries, so their interests are liable to be in more conflict in more areas that in previous decades. And I think is the reason why it’s getting more complicated.
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When I titled my book, When China Rules The World, of course I didn’t literally mean China will rule the world because no country ever has. I referred to a situation where China is the most powerful and influential country in the world. I have no reason to change my view.
I finished writing in 2008, and everything since then has only confirmed my argument and accelerated the process. China is going to become the largest economy in the world.
It will be far from being the most developed economy, and still relatively primitive compared to the US economy, but by 2030, it stands a good chance of being much bigger than the US economy.
However, the present model is still largely based on a very labor-intensive economy which is very dependent on exports. Although China is steadily moving up the value chain and the economy is becoming more research-based, that process needs to be encouraged and accelerated, and that will require some serious economic reforms.
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An author shares his views on the growing clout of the world’s second largest economy.
AUTHOR and academic Dr Martin Jacques released an updated and expanded second edition of his widely acclaimed book, When China Rules The World: The End Of The Western World And The Birth Of A New Global Order, earlier this year.
During a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur when he attended an Asian Centre for Media Studies event, Jacques spoke to The Star about his book and its approach to the subject. Some excerpts:
How is the second edition different from the first?
Time. Because China is growing so quickly, China time is fast. There’s been a lot of updating throughout the second edition.
When I wrote the first edition, the 2008 (US-centred) financial crisis had just happened. The last chapter is about the crisis, which was little commented on before.
The second edition looks at the beginnings of a Chinese economic world order.
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Recent tensions between China and its smaller neighbors over territorial disputes in the East and South China Sea is seen by many as a sign of aggression as an emerging power. Will China be another colonialist, imperialist or a benevolent dictator?
Clarence Chua caught up with Dr Martin Jacques, the best-selling author of “When China Rules the World,” in Kuala Lumpur recently to find out more about the Middle Kingdom and its growing ambition.
China is the most populous nation and has overtaken Japan as the second largest economy in the world. But is China a superpower that could rival the United States?
“Definitely not. China is at the beginning of becoming a global power but in that sense it’s still a long way behind the United States. Economically it is still not strong enough. It’s still a developing country. Its foreign policy is not yet reached the point of, sort of comprehensiveness. Of course, in military terms, China is very very pale shadow of the United States.”
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