Globalization in Chinese style

By Sun Wei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/29 19:48:39

British scholar highlights US resentment at China’s rise

Martin Jacques Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

Martin Jacques, a senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University, wrote in his 2009 book When China rules the world that Western model is not the only option to achieve modernity. He has continued exploring China's development and its impact on the world through the years. Global Times' London correspondent Sun Wei (GT) interviewed Martin Jacques (Jacques) on China's 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up and China's development shadowed by the recent US-China trade friction. The first part of the interview was published on Monday. Here is the second and final part:

GT: US Vice President Michael Pence said in a speech earlier in October that the US has rebuilt China over the last 25 years. US President Donald Trump has also mentioned this on different occasions. Are you surprised by Pence's speech?

Jacques: Not really. You have got to say that the Trump administration is in many ways remarkably ignorant. Their reaction to American decline is to reassert American nationalism and to try and bully the rest of the world. It's nonsense to say the US is the major reason for China's transformation over the last 25 years. That tells me that they know nothing about China's transformation. What planet are they living on to make that kind of remark? It's obviously just cheap self-serving propaganda. Has the US made a contribution to Chinese rise? Yes, it has. As China itself has frequently said, China has been the beneficiary of the era of globalization which the US played a key role in shaping.

GT: Some US scholars believe that the US has adopted an engagement policy which has greatly benefited China. But they now believe that China has "betrayed" the US and does not intend to follow its ways in terms of the political system. What do you think?

Jacques: I think a very big political shift has taken place in the US. It is not just the Republicans. The Democrats have also shifted to a more anti-China position. Now the question is why, and this is a question that the Chinese themselves need to reflect on.

Until about 2010, the US was relatively benign toward China. The period after 1972, following the Nixon-Mao accord, was characterized by relative stability in the US-China relationship. There were two assumptions that underpinned American attitudes toward China. The first was that China's economic rise would never challenge US economic hegemony. And the second assumption was that China would, in time, become like the West, because they assumed that unless China became like the US it could never succeed, its transformation would fail. It would be unsustainable both economically and politically. From 1972 until the Western financial crisis, the relationship remained very unequal, though less so over time. The US was the major power, China was the junior partner.

From around 2010, it became increasingly clear that these two positions were wrong. First, because China's economic transformation continued very successfully and in 2014 it overtook the US economy in terms of GDP measured by PPP (purchasing power parity). Second, it became clear that China was not going to be like the US, the political system was not going to become like the US'. Furthermore, China would not accept American global leadership and do whatever the US wanted it to. Two things served to ­dramatize the situation: One was the Western financial crisis of 2008, the worst in the West since 1931. Suddenly the West was in deep trouble, but on the other hand, China was not and continued to rise. It shook the confidence of the West.

Until this point, the US did not believe it was in decline. It had, of course, been in decline for some time, but it was in denial about it. Trump was the product of, and gave expression to, this new uncertainty, angst, disappointment and a growing mood of anger and frustration. This historically explains the shift in the US attitude toward China.

GT: Trump frequently sums up his approach to foreign policy in two words: America First. The US has withdrawn from various international mechanisms and is creating ­barriers to trade, technical exchange and personnel exchanges with a lot of countries. Do you think this will reverse the globalization process?

Jacques: I definitely think the era of neo-liberalism has come to an end. There's a reaction to the era of globalization in the West, and the ideology of that period in the West, namely neo-liberalism, is in crisis. Trump is a reaction against it. Extreme globalization, which was the Western ideology of this period, has hit the wall.

I also think that the whole American view of itself and its role since the end of World War II has come to an end. I don't see any simple reversion to the previous era of American multilateralism and leadership. I think that era is over and is unlikely to be revived in its old form. I don't think we should be so surprised by this because if you look at American history over a much longer period, for example from the War of Independence against Britain until 1939, it was largely dominated by American nationalism and isolationism. The period after 1945 until the election of Trump in 2016, during which the US saw itself in terms of multilateral institutions, broad alliances and leadership, was the exception rather than the rule.

Before WWII, the US was always for itself. It was very nationalistic, for long it existed in splendid isolation. Historically it was very aggressive. It was built on violence, on slavery, on wars, the wars against the Amerindians, against Britain, against Spain, against Mexico. That's how it expanded. So this latest period of US development has been exceptional. Trump lies within the old tradition. He's reacting against the post-1945 ­period, he is reverting to the past, by so doing he wants to make America great again, making America as it used to be. Of course, he cannot succeed, times have changed profoundly.

I don't think we should expect the Trump era to be short lived. There will be no easy or simple return to the status quo ante before Trump. This period could last 20 years, 30 years, a reaction against Western-style extreme globalization. In the long run, globalization will continue, but in the next decade, perhaps much longer, it will suffer setbacks and could even be reversed in certain respects.

Meanwhile, there's a different globalization taking place, which is what I'll call Chinese-style globalization with Belt and Road initiative being its most prominent feature. We are moving into a much more complex period, with a much more divided and fragmented world. In this context, I think Pence's speech was quite ominous. It was a speech that could have been given during the Cold War, it was a very broad attack on China, an attempt to demonize it. It's not going to be the same as the Cold War, but there will be some similarities.

GT: China has benefited a lot from globalization and the multilateral trading mechanism. What challenges will the current situation bring for China? And what's your advice for China's next step on reform and opening-up?

Jacques: I think what is now deeply preoccupying the Chinese leadership is how to respond to the shift by America, how to understand it and how to deal with it. I think the 40th anniversary is a reminder of things we should not forget. The wisdom of Deng Xiaoping: keeping your lines of communication open, keeping your curiosity about the world and making as many friends as possible. And I think that is still good advice.

Posted in: CHINA-US

blog comments powered by Disqus