Understanding the rise of China

200 years ago, Europe was at the centre of the world. Today we are witnessing the greatest change the world has seen for more than two centuries; the world is dramatically tilting on its axis.

The West is barely aware of the fact. And therein lies the problem.

China is rising.

Since the financial crisis, the West’s decline and China’s rise has accelerated. Those who want to ignore or deny these realities are living in a world that is growing smaller and less significant by the day.

China continues to receive scant coverage, and of course, there is understandable unease.

In the West, Europeans and Americans have dominated the world economy for so many centuries that they’re uncomfortable with the notion of someone else claiming the throne of global hegemony.

China comes from an entirely different historical and cultural root.

There is a powerful presumption in the West that for China to earn a pass to the party of the world’s superpower, China must be just like the West.

Well, China never has been and never will be like the West.

As a result, there is much room for misconception and fear.

The fact is the West must learn to accept the deep roots of China and try to understand China on its own terms.

There are some bigger issues here.

The new wealth for China’s 1.3 billion people means there are 1.3 billion more people who can buy stuff from the rest of the world, creating jobs from American research labs to Japanese industrial zones to Brazilian mines. A global economy no longer solely dependent on the U.S. consumer for growth is potentially more stable and prosperous.

Yet few people see China this way. Many don’t acknowledge China’s positive role in the world economy at all.

China’s human rights record is widely condemned. By the values of the West, there certainly leaves a great deal to be desired. But China has taken 600 million people out of poverty, arguably the single biggest global contribution to human rights over the last three decades.

Over the same period, China has become a much freer society. (This is a FACT!)

The nation is a work in progress. China is not only remaking itself with extraordinary speed but is also transforming the world.

In the world of entertainment and media, the new turn to China offers the West the prospect of expanding market growth in a way that otherwise would have been inconceivable. It will create many new jobs. Above all, China offers Australian screen industry a genuine and valuable opportunity to prosper in the Asian-oriented and China-centric world that’s rapidly unfolding before us.

Should the West fear China’s growth?

Is China destroying the planet?

How important is China compared to the US?

This 2011 Ted talk by British economist Martin Jacques is a must-see introduction in answering the question of our century: How do we in the West make sense of China and its phenomenal rise?

The “easternisation” is real and happening: the remorseless shift in the global centre of gravity from the West to the East.

Much of my work, as a storyteller, is pursued on the single-mindedness in making sense of my own “Chinaness” and exploring ramifications as East meets West in an insightful manner, with the aim to provide little nuggets of revealing and unexpected information.

Essential extended readings:

The full transcript of Martin Jacques’s Ted talk on Understanding the rise of China


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