PETALING JAYA: China may overtake the United States as the biggest economic power in the next four to six years but this does not mean that it will instantly become the world’s superpower, says a leading expert on China.
Dr Martin Jacques, 67, author of the global bestseller When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, said it would take several decades, from between 2030 and 2040, before it could even achieve developed state status.
“It’d be a long way to go as a superpower,” he said at a talk on “China As Global Superpower: What It Means For Asia and The World”, hosted by the Asian Centre for Media Studies, based in Menara Star.
The second edition of his book was released recently and 40% of its content was new.
“This includes an extensive chapter analysing events after the 2008 financial crisis,” he said.
His first was shortlisted for two major literary awards.
Dr Jacques said Westerners were fearful of China’s rise due to scant knowledge and understanding of China and that it was a communist country.
They fear the country might throw its weight and its military power around.
However, Dr Jacques pointed out that China had no major interest in developing military power after Deng Xiaoping took over the country from the late 1970s to 1990s.
On fears that a communist country was not democratic, he argued that being democratic had not stopped Europeans from conquering others.
“Although China has a lot of problems now, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be humane and more democratic,” said Dr Jacques.
“Maybe, it will develop universal suffrage without following the Western way.”
Dr Jacques pointed out that the China Development Bank and China Export-Import Bank gave loans of more than US$110bil (RM338.415bil) to other developing countries in 2009 and 2010 while the World Bankonly made loan commitments of US$100.3bil (RM307.65bil).
Dr Jacques, a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the London School of Economics (University of London), visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy, Washington DC, was the former editor of Marxism Today, deputy editor of The Independent and a co-founder of the think tank Demos