|Will China Dominate the 21st Century?, Jonathan Fenby, Polity Press, January 2014 (GT)|
The scale and speed of China's emergence as a major global actor, whose economy is expected to overtake that of the US by the end of the present decade, has been regarded by many people, especially Western scholars, as the most important international event since the end of the Cold War.
The distribution of global power is changing rapidly, and many analysts foresee a 21st century that will belong to China. Will China dominate the 21st century? From the Chinese perspective, the answer is definitely "no." Chinese leaders have repeatedly expressed on the world stage that China will not pursue the No.1 spot in the world.
Recently, a book that shares this opinion was published by the US-based Polity Press, named Will China Dominate the 21st Century?. The author, Jonathan Fenby, is a founding partner and managing director of Trusted Sources Research Service and a former editor of the Observer and South China Morning Post. In this book, Fenby summarizes in detail what China has achieved, how it has done it and what challenges it faces ahead.
Fenby first recognizes the remarkable economic achievements of China after its reform and opening-up, predicting that China will play a very important role on the global stage by the end of this century and share power with other emerging countries and traditional powers.
He holds that the story of China's past gains powerful backing from the country's extraordinary material rise. Indeed, in the past three decades, China's GDP went from 364 billion yuan ($60.18 billion) at the start of economic reform in 1978 to 1.5 trillion yuan 10 years later, reaching 10 trillion at the turn of the century, and then sky-rocketing past 20 trillion yuan in the middle of the decade to reach nearly 57 trillion yuan in 2013.
But at the same time, the author also points out the huge economic, social and political challenges ahead for China, including "man-made" economic statistics, problems in the political system and the bubbles in the current prosperity, warning that these challenges will play a serious role if China is truly to become a global actor in the 21st century.
Based on these arguments, the book concludes that China will not dominate the 21st century.
The development of any country is accompanied by twists and turns, and so it is with China. Many in China have become addicted to the country's great rise while ignoring the fact that many problems still exist.
This book is a reminder that it is still too early to position the world at the dawn of a Chinese century. Although these problems are labor pains in the developing process that will not halt the rise of the country, they will inevitably place a drag on growth.
In fact, the 21st century will not be dominated by any single country. We are living in a multipolar world, which makes politics and international relations more uncertain.
Instead of one country emerging on top, the future will be dominated by multiple centers of power and the differing concepts of order.
So, with the unfolding of the 21st century, the top priority for us is to properly cope with current challenges, and forget the unrealistic "Chinese 21st century."