When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order is a book by British journalist and scholar Martin Jacques. It was released in 2009. It aroused a serious discussion in the United States and globally about the role of China in the creation of the new 21st century world order. Jacques refers to the estimates on China’s economic superiority, such as made by Goldman Sachs, and concludes that China’s future economic strength will heavily alter the political and cultural landscape of the future world. The book was originally released in the UK under the subtitle “The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World”.
China will replace the United States as the world’s dominant power. In so doing, it will not become more western but the world will become more Chinese.
Martin Jacques argues that we cannot understand China in western terms but only through its own history and culture. To this end, he introduces a powerful set of ideas including China as a civilization-state, the tributary system, the Chinese idea of race, a very different concept of the state, and the principle of contested modernity.
For over two hundred years we have lived in a western-made world, one where the very notion of being modern was synonymous with being western. The book argues that the twenty-first century will be different: with the rise of increasingly powerful non-Western countries, the west will no longer be dominant and there will be many ways of being modern. In this new era of ‘contested modernity’ the central player will be China.
Martin Jacques argues that far from becoming a western-style society, China will remain highly distinctive. It is already having a far-reaching and much-discussed economic impact, but its political and cultural influence, which has hitherto been greatly neglected, will be at least as significant. Continental in size and mentality, and accounting for one fifth of humanity, China is not even a conventional nation-state but a ‘civilization-state’ whose imperatives, priorities and values are quite different. As it rapidly reassumes its traditional place at the centre of East Asia, the old tributary system will resurface in a modern form, contemporary ideas of racial hierarchy will be redrawn and China’s ages-old sense of superiority will reassert itself. China’s rise signals the end of the global dominance of the west and the emergence of a world which it will come to shape in a host of different ways and which will become increasingly disconcerting and unfamiliar to those who live in the west.
The book was praised in China and East Asian countries, where it was perceived by some pundits as the best and most understanding analysis of Chinese society and economics. Harvard professor Joseph Nye has criticized the narrative of the book on American decline, and portrayed his more pro-American vision of the power 21st century in his book The Future of Power. Williams College professor Sam Crane criticized Jacques’ assertions that in his view are incorrect and based on historical and philosophical errors.
The book received high appraisal also from influential political pundits. Fareed Zakaria recommended the title as the book of the week of his show Fareed Zakaria GPS on November 21, 2010. Zakaria noted “China is going to change the western dominated world we are all comfortable with. Whether you agree with it or not, this is a very forcefully written lively book that is full of provocations and predictions.”
“A very forcefully written, lively book that is full of provocations and predictions”
– Fareed Zakaria, 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