When China Rules the World

Intro from EUCCC:
On 30 Nov 09 the EUCCC/Britcham invited author and Asia commentator Martin Jacques on the subject of his new book When China Rules the World.
According to even the most conservative estimates, China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy by 2027 and will ascend to the position of world economic leader by 2050. But the full repercussions of China’s ascendancy-for itself and the rest of the globe-have been surprisingly little explained or understood.
In his far-reaching and original new book, Martin Jacques offers provocative answers to some of the most pressing questions about China’s growing place on the world stage.
In this work he offers his views on how China will seek to shape the world in its own image, an image that has been shaped by a long and rich history as a civilization state.
He argues that, as a culturally self-confident Asian giant with a billion-plus population, China will likely resist globalization as we know it. This exceptionalism will have powerful ramifications for the rest of the world and the United States in particular. As China is already emerging as the new center of the East Asian economy, the mantle of economic and, therefore, cultural relevance will in our lifetimes begin to pass from London and Paris to cities like Beijing and Shanghai. This transition, Jacques argues, will determine whether the twenty-first century will be relatively peaceful or fraught with tension, instability, and danger.
About the speaker:
Martin Jacques is currently a visiting research fellow at the London School of Economics Asia Research Centre. He has recently been a visiting professor at Renmin University, Aichi University and at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, and was a senior visiting research fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. He was editor of the highly respected journal Marxism Today until its closure in 1991. He has written for numerous influential newspapers, journals and magazines and is the author of four books of political commentary.
My comments
My friend Curt (big fan of the author!) gave me the book as a present, he signed it and I also asked the author to sign it. I only read part of it, till now.
Martin is a very good speaker; I won’t give here the full report on his presentation, only some (personal) highlights:
– China will be distinctive and different (as a world power and country); it’s a “civilization state” – agree
– China is a massive country but exceptionally unified through its long history and culture that unifies its vast population; Europe is on the contrary much more fragmented – agree
– Mandarin could become the lingua franca in the region – agree but don’t like it
– South East Asia, Australia and other countries have become very dependent on China (economically) – agree
– 95% of the population feels itself as “Han Chinese” despite the many different ethnicities – disagree, they feel “Chinese” but don’t talk in the way to feel “Han”
– the Chinese are overall not very open to different cultures – agree
– the State in China has a near spiritual role to play and in this respect has little competition; the State has a higher state competence than any other country – mostly agree
– we see the beginning of the decline of the USA as the dominant world power (nobody talks much about the EU…) and the emergence of China who however does not yet want to replace the USA in its (present) role – mostly agree (some Americans are going to like the book but could help the paranoid to call for a stronger military…)
– it is the end of the world, shaped by a Western agenda; in the past the shift was from the UK to the USA, but how will the next shift be? – probably right
– Unlike Americans (and other Westerners?) the Chinese do not ask themselves who they really are – they don’t need to do so – mostly right
– the CCP re-invented itself after Mao’s death – mostly agree
– Confucianism: state-centric and focus on good governance – mostly agree
– overall the book touches not so much on China as a society as I try in my (upcoming?) book; it’s more focused on economy and world power / international balance between the major powers.

Now I still need to read the book! But I already know who invented golf…

About my book (no title yet!)

Since about two years at least I have been fascinated by the tremendous changes within the Chinese society. After 28 years of China I suddenly realized how much things had changed and how little I had noticed what was going on.
Most of the foreigners, even living in China since many years, have little insight in the Chinese society, the way people think, love, live and how they look at their future. Actually many Chinese also do not fully grasp the many changes in attitudes as they often live within their “box”. Others are bewildered by the sudden changes and feel uncomfortable with the new generations, called the “balinghou and jiulinghou” – the post 80 and post 90 generations. Among Chinese there is a lot of passionate debate on the generation gaps and the new trends. Chinese don’t share much those issues with foreigners as they feel this is “for Chinese only”. On the other hand they are ready to discuss with us once they feel comfortable about it. As many new trends and personal feelings are kept discreet and hidden, many Chinese and foreigners alike do not always realize what is going on around them.
The book will try to address those issues in part, much as a sociological study. It is not my aim to be complete as China has grown into a very complex society and the country is so vast with many local attitudes. The book will be focused on Beijing that is already a city full of contrasts with all the migrants – millions of them – coming from all over the country to work and live here.

The book is not without controversy as many foreigners and Chinese alike can be shocked and doubt that in China “those things exist and Chinese think and act in that way.”
Interestingly enough, my Chinese friends seem more interested in my book than foreigners – as the Chinese are more aware of the controversies.
I often jokingly say: it will not be like all the “Ying and Yang crap you hear from so-called “China specialists”.
My goal – maybe too optimistic – is to finish the draft by the end of this year. I did not even start looking for a publisher… (all suggestions welcome). First version will be in English.

I have collected a lot of information but I still need to work on it all. Currently I look at the influence of Confucianism on the society of today (many Chinese say: as good as no influence).

Keep posted!

More action on the Gongti Strip

On 28 March 09 China Daily reported the opening of one more disco nightclub on the Gongti Strip, see the full article below, including the pic of what seems to be two “Balinghou”.
I am constantly amazed by the ignorance of some expats and local Chinese on what is really happening in the turbulent Beijing nightlife. I am writing my book on Chinese society and I mention the incredible changes in society with the new “Balinghou and Jiulinghou” generations, I am challenged by those people who often have no clue on how those new generations act and think. Not that all are the same, obviously. But a late night visit to discos in Gongti Xi Lu might be an eye opener. “We Chinese don’t go to bars, we Chinese don’t stay up so late”. Yeah. Just pop up on the Strip at 3 am and you’ll see. As for how they think, well, there are some (other) China Daily articles that might bring a light into your darkness. As I said in one of my recent articles, better to carefully check the younger graduates out before hiring them. Some can be great but some have, as the older (Chinese) generations openly claim “no any responsibility” – including at work.
Going loco @ LA Club: more action on the Gongti Strip
Making a big splash in the Beijing club scene, Banana (as in GT, Coco and most recently, Babyface) has added a new hotspot to its luxury empire.
LA Club claims to be the city’s “hottest VIP hip-hop club” and hip it certainly is. From its gentle opening at the beginning of March to its scandalously sexy fetish party last Friday, the club blasts out hits from the golden era of disco and funk to the freshest hip-hop tracks of today.
The trendy aims to celebrate the full Gucci-Moet-Cartier hip-hop experience and feed selective urbanites with a taste for celebrating the high life.
With a 1971 Cadillac parked outside, and more than 60,000 faux diamonds and a rotating, elevated dance floor at its center, LA Club is sure to dazzle the eyes and ears of even the most experienced clubber. Banana’s sound engineers have a heart-thumping Turbosound system that makes you want to clap your hands and strut your stuff all night – the DJs keep the dance floor grooving ’till 6 in the mornin’.
The club plans to line up an impressive list of international artists over the coming year. It’s quickly becoming the place to grind with the capital’s beautiful people. If you’ve got money to burn, you’ll definitely want to try out one of the revolving, ultra-deluxe VIP booths, where you can sip on gin and juice, indulge in bottles of Mumm Champagne (at 580 yuan a time), or the two-for-one mixed drinks. LA Club signifies a new height of Beijing clubbing. Hip-hop hooray!
West Road of Workers Stadium, next to COCO Banana.
Story by Carissa Welton, photos provided by LA Club

“Think Like Chinese” by Zhang Haihua & Geoff Baker

On 13 Dec I went to a  lecture at Garden Books (Guanghua Lu) where the authors introduced their book to a packed room.
Haihua (Helen) Zhang & Geoff Baker shared the following
• How Chinese view their own history
• Why Chinese are different – 5 core elements of Chinese thinking: Chinese language/philosophy, law of yin & yang, born connectedness, mid-stream living and mianzi (Face)
• “only tell people 1/3 of what’s on your mind” – how Chinese communicate
•  “heroes think alike” – how Chinese live & work
•  What to do
For me it was a “click” in my head – as I expected, because there was a reason for me to go there. They both signed the book I bought (RMB 220).
As so often, the 13th brings me luck.

I was thinking since long: about WHAT could I write. Too many books are published about China.
Through the many seminars I started to formulate some fresh concepts and promptly removed those from my seminar talks. Indeed – my approach in describing Chinese society and its many trends of today proved to be too controversial and complicated. Certainly for an audience that never had contact with this puzzling China. On the other hand, when I tested them with seasoned China experts and local Chinese friends, I got a very positive feedback. (I was pretty nervous during that first talk…)
Listening to Geoff and Helen brought relief: we have certainly a different angle to look at our Chinese friends (and foes). That is what I am looking for: a fresh insight.
So, this very Monday 15 December, I wrote the first draft pages of my first book. No name yet. Just a start of a long voyage.
But starting to write and having some direction is for me great progress. Enough procrastination.

Insider’s Guide to Beijing 2008

Michael Wester, general manager of True Run Media, read “That’s Beijing” kindly invited me for the launch of their new Insider’s Guide to Beijing. Walked away with the Guide, a latest fashion Mao-era bag and a detailed map about the location of the Olympic venues.
The party was in the Bookworm, all the That’s Beijing staff used traditional Chinese outfits and the crowd was diversified (and fun).

click to enlarge click to enlarge

As I regularly tell my colleagues in the Beijing Government, you can’t beat those guys to know what is cooking in Beijing. Day and night. China Daily still has Bus Bar in a construction pit.