Books on China have never been more popular, but are they teaching us anything?

Few books have polarized opinion in recent years as much as When China Rules the World, but when it was published in 2009, author Martin Jacques was thinking less about kickstarting an international debate than he was simply relieved to have completed a 10-year project marred by personal tragedy.

“I’d moved to Hong Kong in 1998 with my wife Hari and our 9-week-old son Ravi. We were going to be there for three years and I had ambitious plans for the book as well as a television series lined up,” Jacques says. “But after we’d been there for 14 months, my wife died in terrible circumstances and the book went out of my mind. I was just struggling to survive and I didn’t touch the book for five years. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be capable of writing it, but it must have somehow stayed in the back of my mind because by 2005 I started to work on it again.”

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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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As the Communist Party of China celebrates its 90th anniversary, David Bartram explains how it has navigated political and economic twists and turns to reach its dominant position today.   

Ninety years after its formation in a small building in Shanghai’s French concession, the Communist Party of China (CPC) presides over the world’s second largest economy and a country that will arguably have a greater impact on the 21st century than any other.

Only 13 delegates attended the first congress in Shanghai in July 1921; today the CPC is the world’s largest political party with around 80 million members. It is a transformation that few foresaw, only made possible by the CPC’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

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Few would have dared to predict the remarkable economic transformation China has undergone in the 30 or so years since Deng Xiaoping’s reforms opened the country to the world in 1978.   

That the Communist Party of China (CPC) not only survived the process, but thrived as the driving force behind market reforms that turned a country reeling in the aftermath of the “cultural revolution” (1966-76) into the second largest economy in the world is a remarkable feat of adaptability.

Martin Jacques, British academic and author of When China Rules the World, appreciates more than most the impact China’s economic miracle has had – and is still having – on the world.

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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