The following interview with Martin Jacques originally appeared in the New Internationalist.
In a New Year’s address, Chinese President Xi Jinping lauded the country’s accomplishments in 2017 and gave a road map for China’s priorities in 2018.
2017 has been a big year for China – from President Xi’s travels to Davos to hosting the first Belt and Road Initiative Forum to the 19th CPC Meeting. China is taking the lead across the world and at home. So what’s the outlook for the country this year?
To discuss President Xi’s speech and the future of China in 2018: Victor Gao, a Chinese international relations expert Dan Wang, a China analyst with The Economist Intelligence Unit; Martin Jacques, author of “When China Rules the World” and a senior fellow in politics and international studies at Cambridge University; Jacques deLisle, a professor and director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
The recent slowdown has called previous narratives about China’s rise into question for some. How should we view this economic slowdown? What role will the US play? Global Times (GT) London-based correspondent Sun Wei interviewed Martin Jacques (Jacques), a senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University, and a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, about these questions.
GT: Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz claims in an article that the “Chinese century” has begun and that Americans should take China’s new status as the No.1 economy as a wake-up call. Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University explains in an essay why the “American century” is far from over. Obama said last year the US will lead the world for the next 100 years. What do you think of these debates?
Jacques: The US is still the dominant power in the world in probably every sense. China is only challenging it economically by virtue of having a huge population. China’s rapid transformation is clearly already having profound economic consequences, and beginning to have serious political, cultural, intellectual, moral, ethical, and military consequences as well. That’s in a way what President Xi Jinping‘s government represents. The Chinese dream imagines a different place in the world and a different future for China.
John Harris’ ‘Long Read’ piece for The Guardian (29 September 2015) includes an interview with Martin Jacques and an assessment of his editorship of Marxism Today from 1977 – 1991.
In May 1988, a group of around 20 writers and academics spent a weekend at Wortley Hall, a country house north of Sheffield, loudly debating British politics and the state of the world. All drawn from the political left, by that point they were long used to defeat, chiefly at the hands of Margaret Thatcher. Now, they were set on figuring out not just how to reverse the political tide, but something much more ambitious: in essence, how to leave the 20th century.
Over the previous decade, some of these people had shone light on why Britain had moved so far to the right, and why the left had become so weak. But as one of them later put it, they now wanted to focus on “how society was changing, what globalisation was about – where things were moving in a much, much deeper sense”. The conversations were not always easy; there were raised voices, and sometimes awkward silences. Everything was taped, and voluminous notes were taken. A couple of months on, one of the organisers wrote that proceedings had been “part coherent, part incoherent, exciting and frustrating in just about equal measure”.
What emerged from the debates and discussions was an array of amazingly prescient insights, published in a visionary magazine called Marxism Today. In the early 21st century, that title might look comically old-fashioned, but the people clustered around the magazine anticipated the future we now inhabit, and diagnosed how the left could steer it in a more progressive direction. Soon enough, in fact, some of Marxism Today’s inner circle would bring their insights to the Labour party led by Tony Blair, as advisers and policy specialists. But most of their ideas were lost, thanks partly to the frantic realities of power, but also because in important respects, Blair and Gordon Brown – both of whom had written for the magazine when they were shadow ministers – were more old-fashioned politicians than they liked to think.
At the core of Marxism Today’s most prophetic ideas was a brilliant conception of modern capitalism. In contrast to an increasingly dated vision of a world of mass production and standardisation, the magazine’s writers described the changes wrought by a new reality of small economic units, franchising, outsourcing, self-employment and part-time work – most of it driven by companies and corporations with a global reach – which they called “Post-Fordism”. Computers, they pointed out, were now being built from components produced in diverse locations all over the world; iconic companies had stripped down their focus to sales, strategy and what we would now call branding, outsourcing production to an ever-changing array of third parties. As a result, economies were becoming more fragmented and unpredictable, as the bureaucratic, top-down structures that had defined the first two-thirds of the 20th century were pushed aside.
The unhappiness with China among segments of Hong Kong society stems from the city’s failure to understand its privileged relationship with Beijing, prominent China expert Dr Martin Jacques said. In a wide-ranging interview with Celene Tan, the British-born author added that China has learnt from the past and will be patient in drawing Taiwan closer to the mainland. He also spoke about China’s territorial claims and President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Below is an excerpt of the interview, the first part of which was published yesterday.
As China takes on more global responsibilities, it is faltering in its effort to pull Hong Kong and Taiwan closer to the mainland. Why are the people in these two territories so resistant to China? How can they be swayed by Beijing?
Hong Kong had been under British rule for 155 years. The whole of Hong Kong’s modern experience was under British colonial rule, so it grew up, in a sense, deprived of its birthright, which was China, because it was cut off from China. It was brought up with a kind of adopted birthright, which was Britain, and looked West.
One-hundred-and-fifty-five years is a long time — many, many generations — so it’s left deep roots in the way in which Hongkongers see the world. They were very ignorant, by the end of British rule, about the country to their north. They were Chinese, but they knew very little about China. On the other hand, they were very knowledgeable, in many ways, about the world to their west, particularly Britain and, to a lesser extent, other countries in Europe and, of course, the United States.
China has shown enormous capacity for reform in the past three decades without the need to move towards a Western-style system — a point greatly underestimated by the West, said prominent China expert Martin Jacques in a wide-ranging interview with TODAY’s Celene Tan this week. Dr Jacques also said that the Chinese Communist Party does not need economic growth to legitimise its rule and he believes China will grow to be a benign power. Below is an excerpt from the interview.
The latest issue of Foreign Affairs painted a picture of China as a country facing the classic challenges of the middle phases of development. It said China’s existing institutions may not be able to manage the country’s problems in the long term and Beijing seems unlikely to adopt the reforms that could help because they would threaten the Communist Party’s hold on power. What are your views on this?
China has done extraordinarily well over the past 35 years. It has shown an enormous capacity for reform, not only economic reform, but also political reform. Because if you’re growing at roughly 10 per cent a year, your economy is doubling its size every seven years. Now, more like every 10 years with the current growth rate. It’s impossible for the institutions to cope with this level of change without being constantly reengineered and reinvented. Generally, this has been greatly underestimated in the West. Foreign Affairs is a sort of journal of the United States foreign policy establishment — generally they don’t recognise this political reform because the only political reform they recognise is that which is moving China closer to the West. So, if it’s not doing that, then it’s not acknowledged, really.
SINGAPORE — China’s rise has to be viewed with the right lens and many in the West fail to understand the Asian power because of a lack of knowledge of the country’s unique history and culture, said prominent China expert Dr Martin Jacques.
In an interview with TODAY, the British-born author said it is a mistake for the West to think that Beijing is unwilling to implement political reforms in its institutions simply because the reforms China has taken do not move towards a Western-style system.
Instead, China’s vast economic transformation in a mere few decades means that institutions in the country have been constantly re-engineered and reinvented to cope with the level of change, said Dr Jacques, whose book When China Rules The World has sold over 250,000 copies worldwide. “Generally, this has been greatly underestimated in the West — they don’t recognise this political reform (in China) because the only political reform they recognise is that which is moving China closer to the West,” he said.
Onlangs publiceerden we citaten en een samenvatting van een pessimistisch artikel over China van professor Shambaugh. Indirect in antwoord daarop publiceerde Xinhua al op 13/3 een soort interview met Martin Jacques. We nemen het hier volledig over.
Het Westen heeft de neiging nu eens voor, dan weer tegen te zijn in het beeld dat het schetst van China’s toekomst, maar de opkomst van China is een blijvend verschijnsel, aldus de Britse academicus Martin Jacques in een interview met Xinhua.
In een commentaar op het opflakkerende debat over “De eeuw van China” noemt Martin de reden hiervoor eenvoudig: het feit dat de ontwikkeling van China blijft doorgaan.
“Westerse commentaren over China zijn grillig en hebben de neiging negatief te zijn. En dan, van tijd tot tijd, lijken ze wakker te worden en zich te realiseren dat de trend zich doorzet” verklaarde de auteur van de internationale bestseller “When China Rules the World”.
The Western portrayal of China’s future tends to “blow hot and cold”, but the heat of China’s rise is here to stay, British scholar Martin Jacques said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Commenting on a resurfacing “Chinese Century” debate among global media, Martin said that the reason behind this hot discourse is simple: the fact that China’s development continues.
“The Western commentary about China’s rise is erratic, and tends to be a bit negative. And then from time to time, they sort of wake up and realize that the trend continues,” said the author of the international best-seller “When China Rules the World”.
In an article for the Vanity Fair magazine, U.S. economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, foresaw the arrival of a “Chinese Century” in 2015 on the grounds that China has surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest economy in terms of GDP based on purchasing power parity.
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China Premier Rutte brengt volgende week een vierdaags werkbezoek aan China. De Britse Chinakenner Martin Jacques zou in zijn plaats nú aanhaken bij de Chinese concurrent van de Wereldbank.
Martin Jacques verslikt zich in zijn met veel melk aangelengde thee. „Wow, de altijd trouwe Britse poedel loopt opeens weg van zijn Amerikaanse baasje. Dit is zonder overdrijving een historisch moment”, grijnst de Britse auteur van When China rules the world, het meest geciteerde, bediscussieerde en bekritiseerde boek over de onstuitbare opmars van China.
Als eerste westerse natie besloot het Verenigd Koninkrijk de toorn van de Verenigde Staten te trotseren door politiek en financieel kapitaal te investeren in het Chinese initiatief om een concurrent van de Wereldbank op te richten, de zogeheten Aziatische Infrastructurele Investeringsbank. Volgens de historicus Jacques een „zeer opmerkelijk moment in de wording van de nieuwe financiële institutionele wereldorde”. „Ik word er vaak van beticht dat ik de snelheid van de opmars van China als wereldmacht zwaar overdrijf, maar mijn grootste fout is eigenlijk dat ik niet heb voorzien hoe snel de oude pikorde aftakelt. Die orde, opgebouwd door de Amerikanen vanaf 1944, is op veel verschillende manieren aan het afbrokkelen, om niet te zeggen aan het desintegreren. De Wereldbank is aan het afglijden en wie weet nog van het bestaan van de G7 of de G8?” Duitsland, Frankrijk en Italië hebben inmiddels het Britse voorbeeld gevolgd.
Martin Jacques, die gastcolleges geeft aan de Nationale Universiteit van Singapore, wil weten of Nederland ook aandeelhouder en mede-stichter van de Chinese tegenhanger van de Wereldbank wordt. „Nog geen beslissing? Echt niet? Ik kan Nederland alleen maar adviseren de knoop snel door te hakken, dit is een heel belangrijk moment om Chinese bonuspunten te winnen. Het is niet slim om in het slinkende Amerikaanse kamp van refusniks te blijven hangen.” Bovendien, voegt hij er aan toe: „China wil niet langer wachten op hervormingen van de Wereldbank en het IMF die er toch niet komen door de blokkade van het Amerikaanse Congres. China accepteert niet langer dat bijvoorbeeld Nederland en België een zwaardere stem hebben in Washington.”