Martin Jacques- Understanding China

I attended an afternoon session hosted by the World Trade Center where Martin Jacques presented his thoughts on China (while I did not see his talk at TED, here is the link. There were some interesting insights that I had not considered, such as:

  • China is not a national country in the Western sense, but a cultural country, routed in a prevailing civilization paradigm that transforms nationalism into something that is much broader and deeper than in the West. The implication is that overseas Chinese see China in much stronger terms than most expatriates do when they go overseas.
  • China is very diverse and depends upon decentralization to maintain its unity, something that they strive to maintain.  For example, look at Hong Kong, the one country, two system approach is still working.
  • China remains a developing country, which changes the relationship of economic flows to/from the region over the next thirty years.
  • State is seen as the guardian of the Civilization of the Chinese state, and has more power and authority than in the West as it is seen as more of a caretaker, and not an advisory/intruder.
  • Dr. Jacques mentioned his book, which he is now revising, as the Chinese State is so rapidly changing, institutionally, etc., but still in a very Chinese way.
  • We can never understand China fully by viewing it with a Western concept of democratic, economic and cultural norms, especially as the past two hundred years the legacy of Western imperialism has lead to a devaluation in the need to understand developing world cultures and norms.

You can view more informtion on his book “When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order”.

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