When China Rules the World | Martin Jacques

Summary of: When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order
By: Martin Jacques


Embark on a fascinating journey into the rise of China as a global superpower and the potential end of Western domination in ‘When China Rules the World’ by Martin Jacques. Delve into China’s rapid modernization, dynamic economy, and unique cultural identity, all of which set it apart from its Western counterparts. Witness the unfolding of a new world order as China challenges traditional Western values and norms. Discover the eight factors that make China different from the West and explore the direct consequences of these differences. Prepare for an eye-opening exploration of the rise of a new global force that will reshape the 21st century.

The Rise of China as a World Power

China’s rise as a world power marks a historic shift in global power from the West to developing nations, particularly in East Asia. With years of surpluses and a cash-rich economy, East Asian nations, led by China, have overtaken Western nations in manufacturing and exporting. Contrary to assumptions that China will become more westernized and allow the West to continue dominating as it has done for centuries, China’s rise challenges and undermines Western supremacy. As China increases its economic and political power, the West must confront this changing power dynamic and adapt to a new world order.

From Japan’s Westernization to China’s Industrial Explosion

Japan voluntarily westernized to become industrialized, while China’s developmental state focused on continued economic growth. Japan turned to western markets, while China developed an economic infrastructure and opened up to foreign investments.

Japan and China may share an economic history, but their paths to modernization were vastly different. Japan’s existing elite made a voluntary decision to westernize in the 1860s to preserve their national essence and become more industrialized. This decision led to exponential economic growth after World War II and a shift from a pastoral farming economy to a fully industrialized system. As Japan’s economy grew, it focused on western markets and models, turning its back on Asian markets and culture.

China’s developmental state, on the other hand, focused on continued economic growth and stability instead of democracy. Mao Zedong’s regime and its hard-core communist administrations made errors with five-year plans and attempts at central government control. However, the early years of the People’s Republic of China set the stage for China’s industrial explosion. By the time China was ready to look outward for markets and investments, it already had an economic infrastructure in place. As a result, China became a model for a developmental state.

China: A History of Continuity and Cultural Identity

China’s history is characterized by invasions, rare defeats, dynastic shifts, and advancements that have shaped its cultural identity. Despite this, China has never been a colony or completely occupied by another country. It developed many innovations, including science and math, gunpowder, large ships, woodblock printing, paper, naval exploration, and literacy. China’s examination system created the world’s foremost civil service class, ensuring the dynasties retained supreme power. Unlike Europe, China had no organized religious, business, or warrior elite to challenge the state, resulting in a centralized, policy- and law-making authority with unlimited domestic power that has always ruled.

Understanding China’s Economic Power

China’s economy, fueled by an abundance of cheap labor, has become a dominant force in the world. Its renminbi currency remains nontraded, and the country has a massive trade surplus with its commercial partners. While China’s newly wealthy seen in its cities are growing, much of the population remains struggling with poverty. The state owns the majority of Chinese firms that compete abroad, including entire industries such as steel and aluminum. China also owns unimaginable cash reserves, with estimates suggesting 60% is held in US dollars. As a result, China has a significant impact on the US economy, and the two nations are mutually dependent on each other financially.

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