Eighth Question [Parfitt]:
Martin Jacque’s When China Rules the World seems to speak to a contemporary belief that China has what it takes, not only to become a nation among nations, but to dominate in the 21st century and beyond. Do you think Jacques presents a solid case? Why or why not?
Jacques bases his flawed theory on the fact that according to even the most conservative estimates, China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy by 2027 and will ascend to the position of world economic leader by 2050.
He then predicts that when China is the dominant power, it will make the rules and spread its values as the US has attempted since World War II.
However, China may learn from the West that attempting to spread its values to every section of the globe leads to failure and thus avoid what already happened to the British Empire.
For example, today, the US (like the British Empire) has fought a string of wars contributing to a national debt of more than $14 trillion.
In 2008 dollars, Korea (1950-1953) cost $320 billion; Vietnam (1965-1975) $686 billion; Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) $96 billion; Iraq (2003-present) $648 billion; Afghanistan (2001-present) $171 billion; and Operation Noble Eagle (2001-present) $33 billion.
To discover what China might do once it is the world’s economic leader, all one need do is learn what happened with Ancient China’s Armada, or read Henry Kissinger, who wrote that China does not claim its contemporary institutions are relevant outside China.
In addition, China may heed Amy Chua of Tiger Mother fame. In World on Fire, Chua, a Yale Law Professor, makes a strong case that spreading the values of a super power to other countries only breeds ethnic hatred and global instability.
Then in Days of Empire, Chua examines the most powerful cultures in history—from the ancient empires of Persia and China to the recent global empires of England and the United States—and reveals the reasons behind their success, as well as the roots of their ultimate demise.
No, I doubt that China will attempt to rule the world. Although one cannot predict with accuracy what the future might bring, if China’s leadership stays on course, it will be satisfied to achieve its goal of converting China to a consumer economy similar to the US with a middle class approaching 800 million people.
I agree Jacque’s theory is wayward (an exercise in wishful thinking) and concur America has been involved in pointless and costly wars, but I don’t see how military campaigns are examples of America “attempting to spread its values.”
Nor do I see the relevance.
Amy Chua is eminently unintelligent and Henry Kissinger should be taken with a grain of salt. His claim regarding China’s lack of a claim that its institutions are relevant outside China constitutes a logical fallacy – ‘appeal to ignorance,’ which occurs when an arguer treats a dearth of evidence as reason to believe a claim is true or false. Whatever the Chinese claim (seldom where you’ll find the truth) they believe, wholeheartedly, that their culture, conventions, institutions, etc. are superior to all others. Chinese writer and critic Bo Yang said Chinese people believe their culture is “indestructible,” and cite the Sinicization of other nations as proof.
Final Word [Lofthouse]:
Parfitt claims “New York Times Bestseller” Amy Chua is “eminently unintelligent”. However, “The Economist” selected “World on Fire” as one of the “Best Books of 2003″, while “The Guardian” said it was a “Top Political Read”.
More examples of America’s “attempt to spread its values” may be found in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and The Office of International Religious Freedom with its mission to promote religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy.
The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and its amendment of 1999 mandates that nations that do not comply with these American values are subject to further actions, including economic sanctions.
As for Bo Yang’s opinion that China’s collective culture is “indestructible”, he is referring to the fact that other countries have been “strongly” influenced by Confucian humanistic values such as Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Continued on December 6, 2011 in Discussion with Troy Parfitt, the author of “Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas” – Part 10 or return to Part 8.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
Subscribe to “iLook China”
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page.