Will China dominate the 21st Century

Will China dominate the 21st Century

Jonathan FenbyJonathan Fenby“[China’s] history from the late 1830s through to Mao’s death in 1976 represented a longer period of convulsions, violence, suffering, national disunity, invasions – plus a lot of natural disasters along the way – that any country on earth has ever suffered” – Jonathan Fenby

Jonathan Fenby is one of those gifted people who wear their learning lightly.

A distinguished journalist and former Editor of The Observer, he has written numerous books on China and its role in the 21st century. 

So when he dismisses the popular idea that China is destined to dominate the world, you sit up and listen. 

And when he also rejects the opposing school of thought – that China is heading for an almighty crash – you are all ears as to where he thinks the People’s Republic is heading. 

China faces “a kind of existential question”, Jonathan told a large Asia Scotland Institute audience at the University of Edinburgh Business School

While its leaders recognise the need for change and reform, the country’s turbulent modern history means Beijing’s primary goal will always be national stability and the preservation of the status quo.

And that means neither a crash nor global dominance but the continued “ominpotence” of the Chinese Communist Party. 

“We have a contradiction and a problem going on here,” Jonathan said, “which I think – since regime preservation will take first place in this dichotomy – means that China’s… potential for further evolution of the structures of the economy and of politics, which is needed to move into a new stage of development, will not be there.

“So in the end the nature of the system which has preserved this last Leninist nation on earth will, I think, turn out to be a weakness.” 

Click on the video below to watch Jonathan’s presentation. You can also view a short video of Jonathan speaking with Roddy Gow, Chairman of Asia Scotland Institute, here

Our thanks once again go to the University of Edinbugh Business School for kindly hosting this event

You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanFenby


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