Martin Jacques on China’s New World Order

I’ve got a great deal more photos and discussion about Dr. Jacques’ work, and his visit last week to our Chinese Studies program at Pacific Lutheran U., but in the meantime, here’s a new interview from the author, done at PLU’s studios in Tacoma.

Martin Jacques at PLU (with PLU China Institute Director Greg Youtz), May 11, 2010 -- photo by Adam Cathcart


  1. While I was attending Martin Jacques presentation at Pacific Lutheran University, I felt that Jacques’ presentation did give an understanding of his thesis, and I as someone who has not read his book was able to follow. However, as Jacques was lecturing there were multiple questions that were barely answered, if at all. The questions are as follows:

    In his presentation Jacques discusses the unification and the unity of China, he also briefly touched on current day areas of conflict that at taking place in China like Taiwan, Xinjiang (Uyghurs) and Tibet, but Jacques failed to mention how these conflicts will effect the growth of China and how these areas of conflict will effect Chinese relations with the present-day world leaders such as the United States, Europe and Japan who have a vested interest in not seeing crimes against humanity committed.

    In addition to the current day conflict areas that are in China, the issue of North Korea also came to mind, in that how will the Sino-North Korean relations effect the growth of both the China and North Korea? And what will relations like these look like in the future if China is to be the next super power?

    When presenting to the group at PLU, Jacques also discussed how different the history of China is then the history of the Western World. When discussing these ideas he used the example that the Chinese did not have a history of colonizing other nations. This comment triggered within me the idea of Chinese internationalism. The internationalism that China took part in are most visible through Zhou Enlai’s relations with third world nations and recently liberated countries in the 1950s and 1960s under Mao Zedong. Although I will agree that China did not colonize other nations it did, however, attempt to spread Maoist socialism and create cultural imperialism over other nations in addition to making other nations dependent upon China through their monetary aid. So I suppose my question would be whether or not you could consider the policy and actions taken by Zhou Enlai under the Mao era as a type of Chinese colonization or imperialism? And if so what does that mean for the tributary state system and for the hierarchy that is created under the tributary state system?

    Another critique that I had for Jacques was that he described China as non-expansionist in nature, but I have to wonder if there was the creation of the tributary state system and Chinese interest in giving aid and creating allies around the globe through third world nations, wouldn’t this be considered a somewhat expansionist nature, even if it wasn’t necessarily a complete take over or will for territorial expansion? But rather an attempt at cultural territorial expansion.

  2. I think what Martin Jacques has to say is very real and more of the world needs to listen up! For centuries, the West has been privileged to influence the rest of the world. It was the West that perpetuated colonialism. Sure, there are many other factors that we need to take into consideration: China’s human rights record, its dependency on the dollar, etc. BUT! with economic power comes political power. For China to be a major cultural influence in the global sphere when it becomes the economic super power is very real! Like Jacques said, the way China rules the world will be very different from the way the U.S. or other Western countries dominated international politics, economy, and culture.

    I feel very fortunate to be a Chinese studies major in this day and age! It has never been more important to be well versed in Chinese language and culture than in the 21st century.

  3. Nicole,

    “…attempt to spread Maoist socialism and create cultural imperialism over other nations in addition to making other nations dependent upon China through their monetary aid.”

    Chairman Mao’s China might have been quite keen on spreading communist or socialist ideologies to the third world, but cultural imperialism?? Back then China was very much anti-Chinese culture, there was no such thing as “Chinese culture” as far as the CCP was concened, there was only “communist/socialist culture”, class struggle etc. Communist/socialist culture is western in nature.

    And exactly how did China try to mak those countries dependent on China? The China under Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou was a lot more selfless than China today.

    “in giving aid and creating allies around the globe through third world nations” equates to expansionism? Isn’t this exactly what the invincible United States does?

  4. I wish Jacques could spend more time talking about “race” politics (I know the correct term is ethnicity, but all things considered this is about “Race”) in China during his lecture, especially because that was what had inspired him all along to write this book. Besides the fact that this is the subject he is clearly most passionate about, race politics the “new” and “fresh” aspect in many ways, because in it he is touching on a subject that is VERY taboo in Chinese politics as it shouldn’t even be mentioned in the first place.
    I have heard more often than not that “race/ethnicity isn’t an issue in China!” Not at all? Really? RIIIIGHT. Hence the PRC policies clearly geared towards minority rights including access to minority language education and exemptions from the One Child Policy (whether or not they are implemented is another story), the Han migration into places such as Xinjiang and Xizang that have caused so much strife, the education structures (that while meant to be taught in whatever language represents the outlying community) that are nonetheless clearly meant to teach specifically Han culture and language, and, conversely the killing of innocent Han people in the streets places such as Lhasa and Urumqi simply because they are Han, etc….. To me, it seems that any time that there is an insurrection and race is involved, it means that some people clearly do see race as an issue. And just because the 1940s are over does not mean this issue could simply vanish all of a sudden on October 1st, 1949, as the CCP may like to claim.
    What I say next does not account for ALL Chinese people by ANY means, because I have been fortunate to see really the a VERY wide spectrum of opinions regarding ethnicity and race issues in China. However, I will say that despite the fact that many people from China with whom I have discussed race and ethnicity do not espouse “racist” opinions in the least, I hate to confess that I have run into far too many commments regarding a dislike/mistrust for/profiling of certain “racial” groups by some other/too many Chinese individuals who really “should know better.” I will leave it like that for now and not go into specifics…. But! Perhaps it’s good to point out, though, that the harshest comments are of course always made in Chinese and not in English? Race is certainly a PR issue, whether that means trotting out people in costumes at the Beijing Olympics and other touric “ethnic” displays around China meant for tourists and the international press…..but it seems to be viewed quite differently in the more private sphere. Well I suppose the same thing could be said anywhere where there is a chance for ethnic tension.

    We always hear about China’s economic and poltical rise, Taiwan, Tibet as it relates to celebrity “pet” issues, and sometimes the currency fights and questions regarding China’s care for the environment, which were all important to Jacques’ lecture….but race and how it relates to the construction of 21st China? His book had some fascinating insights into this, and I wish he could delve even further. After all, China’s political system/mindset IS quite radically different than the American approach, and this involves, of course, a different take on race and how it plays out in both domestic and foreign affairs. For one thing, the historical “sapling” U.S. has a radically different history and legacy, and implying “precedent” when it comes to race/ethnicity is obviously not something that is encouraged by any means! But China, which while clearly very diverse simply does not have the same hsitorical background as does the U.S., will have a new approach. Mr. Jacques, I encourage you to explore this further as part of your interpretations for how the new China will progress in its social, political, and economic strides, and you are clearly on to something here!!!!

    And a big shout-out to Prof. Youtz and everyone else at PLU for this opportunity as well! 非常感谢!PLU REPRESENT!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s