A stimulating yet ultimately flawed portrait of a China-dominated world

Martin Jacques, academic and former editor of Marxism Today, is a big fan of the Chinese development model. In his new book, When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World, Jacques makes the provocative argument that China is not only set to rise in stature within the current system, but in fact will overturn the system and reconfigure it according to essential Chinese principles.

The thesis is stimulating and the book well-written, but it falls short of convincing to those who do not already share the statist premise.

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英国资深媒体人,专栏作家马丁·杰克斯(Martin Jacques)2009年出版的《中国统治世界之时:中央王国的崛起和西方世界的终结》(When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World)激起很大反响。

杰克斯认为,假以时日,中国不会变得更西方化;世界将变得更中国化。中国作为一个“文明-国家”(civilisation state),它主宰下的世界会是什么样呢?到目前为止没有多少人真正思考过。世界并没有对此作好准备。

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With its provocative title, this well-written and timely book by the well-known British journalist Martin Jacques is something of a publisher’s dream. A cut above the annual crop of run-of-the-mill “China threat” books, Jacques’ thoughtful analysis is selling well and deservedly so. It combines an excellent introduction to Chinese history and culture with an exposition of the main arguments surrounding the 21st century “rise of China”, albeit heavily weighted in favor of the author’s own views. It even throws in an excellent chapter on Japan that, taken on its own, would be a good enough reason for buying the book.

But what of the massive assumption contained in the book’s title? Does Jacques manage to make his case that China is set to rule the world? Talk of the emergence of a G2 of America and China in the wake of the crash of 2008 appears, if not to confirm, then at least prefigure China’s rise to preeminence. None of the great issues facing the world can be solved without reference to and without the agreement of the “big two.” All eyes are on the U.S. and China as the world gathers in Copenhagen to address the existential threat of global warming. But counting as one of the world’s biggest problems does not translate to occupancy of the top seat, and would in any case be an unhappy way to ascend the throne.

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Books about China’s ascendancy to a leading world power are often prefaced by the word “if,” but author Martin Jacques has defied the formula by giving his book the eye-catching title, When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World. The British writer, broadcaster and former visiting professor at Renmin University of China, is currently promoting his thought-provoking and somewhat controversial work.

Published by Penguin in June, Jacques’ latest book is a comprehensive and richly detailed analysis of China’s ascendancy and influence he believes it will have on East Asia and the rest of the world – including the West.

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Regardless of how you feel about China, one thing is clear- that it has captured the imagination of much of the world for good and bad. With its surging economy and growing global importance, there has certainly not been a dearth of writers, academics and journalists who believe China will be the next superpower. Leading UK intellectual, Asia expert and journalist Martin Jacques’ latest book boldly proclaims that not only will China become a superpower that may lead the world, but its rise will signify the end of the dominance of the West (the U.S. and Western Europe) in global affairs.

With When China Rules the World, he has written an ambitious, insightful and wide-ranging piece of work that argues that China’s rise will shake up the world order, due to its unique sense of identity and culture.

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《国际先驱导报》记者杨英发自北京 让我们闭上眼睛来想像这样的画面:哈佛商学院的学生指着地图上的中国上海说:“这里,我的理想在这里。”在非母语国家旅行的游客拦住一位当地人问:“请问您会讲普通话吗?”周边国家围绕着复兴的中国,深深折服于中华文化的博大精深,感谢中国给予无私的经济援助;孔子的学说、秦朝的建立、四大发明、新中国的建立变得众所周知;人民币成为世界货币……

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Recent books dealing with China’s unprecedented development over the last 30 years and its future have an annoyingly-repetitive habit of starting out by yelling the big facts: the country’s GDP growth, urban migration, education levels – and normally a concern or two about corruption, reforms and opacity. While these are all important issues to address, it does make the majority of these titles blend into one singular snapshot of the country.

At least journalist Martin Jacques tries a different and more anthropological tact. When China Rules the World leaves it until page 73 before it seriously starts to look at China and its current position. Until that point the book concentrates on exploring previous models of industrial revolution: Britain’s in the 1750s, the United States’ soon after, and Japan’s rise in the 19th and early 20th century following its adoption of many Western institutions and attitudes.

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作者認為,中國將以文化統治世界。到時,周邊國家向中國朝貢;有更多人看中國電影和學習漢語。 文:余綺平 圖:網上圖片

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