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.