When China Rules the World

The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World

Published on political affairs pa, by Martin Jacques, Aug 03, 2009.

“When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go: downtown.” So warbled the British singer, Petula Clark in the 1960s. However, today if solitude is your constant companion, I would suggest that you purchase a copy of this riveting book and read it on the bus and in airports – as I have been doing in recent days, with the dramatic words on the bright red cover of this weighty tome blaring insistently – and no doubt you will find, as I have, that your reading reverie will be constantly interrupted by a stream of anxious interlopers curious to know what the future may hold …

… As he sees it, the heretofore ubiquitous “Washington Consensus” of “free markets”, privatization and deregulation will be replaced by a “Beijing Consensus” wherein “the state is hyperactive and omnipresent…..the Chinese model of the state is destined to exercise a powerful global influence, especially in the developing world, and thereby transform the terms of future economic debate. The collapse of the Anglo-American model in the wake of the credit crunch will make the Chinese model even more pertinent to many countries.”    

He discounts the perception that China’s apparent failure to comport with democratic norms as perceived from Washington, compromises its model of development. In Britain, he says, it was only in 1918 “over 130 years after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, that women (over 30) won” the right to vote and in the U.S., it was not until 1965 that voting rights for African-Americans were solidified in law. Moreover, those in Washington who obsess about “democracy,” rarely – if ever – examine the dearth of democracy “at the global level” – e.g. the Security Council of the United Nations (where Africans do not have a permanent seat and Asians are under-represented) or the World Bank (where US nationals rule) or the International Monetary Fund (the bailiwick of Western Europeans). The “global order,” concludes the author accurately, “has been anti-democratic and highly authoritarian” with little objection from Washington – and China’s rise will complicate this scenario tremendously, he suggests.

However, Jacques does seem to be concerned about how China approaches the matter of “race.” He acknowledges the obvious, which – tragically – is not the norm in the North Atlantic community: “white racism has had a far greater and more profound – and deleterious – effect on the modern world than any other.” Jacques, no dummy, is sufficiently perspicacious to acknowledge that “Jesus was whitened in the Western Christian tradition” as a function of the rise of white supremacy. As the author view things, “American supremacy has been associated with the global dominance of the white race and, by implication, the subordination and subjugation of other races in an informal global hierarchy of race.” This is bound to change, he says, for “the rise of China to surpass the West will, over time, inevitably result in a gradual reordering of the global hierarchy of race.” Jacques asserts that “with the rise of China, white domination will come under serious challenge for the first time in many, if not most, areas of global activity” … (full text).

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