Soon, China will rule the world. But in doing so, it will not become more Western.
Since the first publication of When China Rules the World, the landscape of world power has shifted dramatically. In the three years since the first edition was published, When China Rules the World has proved to be a remarkably prescient book, transforming the nature of the debate on China.
Now, in this greatly expanded and fully updated edition, boasting nearly 300 pages of new material, and backed up by the latest statistical data, Martin Jacques renews his assault on conventional thinking about China’s ascendancy, showing how its impact will be as much political and cultural as economic, changing the world as we know it.
First published in 2009 to widespread critical acclaim – and controversy – When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order has sold a quarter of a million copies, been translated into eleven languages, nominated for two major literary awards, and is the subject of an immensely popular TED talk.
“A very forcefully written, lively book that is full of provocations and predictions.”—Fareed Zakaria, GPS, CNN
“The West hopes that wealth, globalization and political integration will turn China into a gentle giant… But Jacques says that this is a delusion. Time will not make China more Western; it will make the West, and the world, more Chinese.”—The Economist
“[An] exhaustive, incisive exploration of possibilities that many people have barely begun to contemplate about a future dominated by China. … [Jacques] has written a work of considerable erudition, with provocative and often counterintuitive speculations about one of the most important questions facing the world today. And he could hardly have known, when he set out to write it, that events would so accelerate the trends he was analyzing.”—The New York Times Book Review
“The rise of China may well prove to be the defining economic and geopolitical change of our time, and few authors have given the subject deeper thought, nor offered a more illuminating analysis, than Martin Jacques.”—Niall Ferguson, author of The Ascent of Money
“[A] compelling and thought-provoking analysis of global trends…. Jacques is a superb explainer of history and economics, tracing broad trends with insight and skill.”—The Washington Post
“This important book, deeply considered, full of historical understanding and realism, is about more than China. It is about a twenty-first-century world no longer modelled on and shaped by North Atlantic power, ideas and assumptions. I suspect it will be highly influential.”—Eric Hobsbawm, author of The Age of Extremes
“This an extremely impressive book, full of bold but credible predictions … [this] book will long be remembered for its foresight and insight.”—The Guardian (UK)
I think it’s both. Because the U.S. is such a recent creation, the American timescale is extremely short. China’s civilization goes back 5,000 years, and the Chinese constantly access very distant history to illustrate the problems of the present. Kissinger once asked Zhou Enlai what he thought about the French Revolution, and Zhou Enlai said, “It’s too soon to say.” With that mentality coupled with its size and growth, the balance of power is constantly being reconfigured in China’s favor, and they can be patient. But it’s also conscious strategy; after the “century of humiliation,” they prioritized creating the best possible circumstances for development, and they’ve tried to get on with the countries that they perceive to matter.
According to you, the rise of China will be “profoundly traumatic” for the U.S. Why don’t we hear more about the U.S.’s waning power?
It’s American hubris; 50 years of great power influence and the collapse of the Soviet Union has befuddled the mind. The greatest period of danger for great powers is when they think they’re at the height of their powers—remember that song, “Britannia rule the waves?”—they translate what is contingent into something that is eternal. The Bush administration thought that the world was going to be redrawn according to American interests, that this would be the real legacy of the cold war. And they were totally wrong; American power was actually in decline, and the reason it was in decline was the rise of the developing countries and above all, China. But the West thinks that there is only one form of modernity, Western modernity, that developing countries are on an escalator heading in the same direction toward a Western-style society, and that China’s rise should be viewed narrowly, as an economic phenomenon—not as something operating according to a different political, cultural, philosophical template.
What’s next for you?
I don’t know. This book has been a very long journey. It’s an intellectual work, but also a love story. The seed for the book was planted in 1993, and it coincided with my meeting my wife, Hari, who was Malaysian. I started the book in 1998, but 14 months in, it was brutally interrupted by her death. The book was given its power and passion by my overwhelming love for her: I had finally met my soul mate, this magical person, from profoundly different worlds from mine, and I had became enormously sensitive to race and had to deconstruct myself as a white person to understand our differences with humility. And that was a motif, in a way. To understand East Asia, I had to dump my baggage and approach these cultures with due modesty.