Jacques reveals the implications of China’s assuming the status of the world’s biggest market and most influential superpower in When China Rules the World.
You write that China is playing a long game that’s very subtle and hard for the West to understand. Is this a consciously articulated strategy or a modus operandi central to Chinese consciousness?
I think it’s both. Because the U.S. is such a recent creation, the American timescale is extremely short. China’s civilization goes back 5,000 years, and the Chinese constantly access very distant history to illustrate the problems of the present. Kissinger once asked Zhou Enlai what he thought about the French Revolution, and Zhou Enlai said, “It’s too soon to say.” With that mentality coupled with its size and growth, the balance of power is constantly being reconfigured in China’s favor, and they can be patient. But it’s also conscious strategy; after the “century of humiliation,” they prioritized creating the best possible circumstances for development, and they’ve tried to get on with the countries that they perceive to matter.
According to you, the rise of China will be “profoundly traumatic” for the U.S. Why don’t we hear more about the U.S.’s waning power?
Who’s Afraid of Jan Wong?
A lunch invitation from Jan Wong was not one you wanted to get when the Toronto Globe and Mail‘s highest-paid and most notorious columnist was writing her eponymous “Lunch with Jan Wong.” The column ran from 1996 to 2002, with a stated aim to “Ask tough questions, check résumés, scrutinize every boob job, tuck and lift.” It garnered her two lawsuits and the moniker “the Hannibal Lecter of the lunch set.”
But her memoirs—Red China Blues (Doubleday, 1997), Jan Wong’s China (Doubleday, 1999) and her latest, A Comrade Lost and Found (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009)—are as serious as her celebrity portraits are scurrilous, detailing what Wong, a third-generation Canadian and “Montreal Maoist,” witnessed as a foreign exchange student at the height of the Cultural Revolution.
Keeping Your Enemies Closer
In Rivals, the former editor-in-chief of the Economist takes on Asia’s giants and examines the historical roots and global implications of China, India and Japan competing for resources and influence.
Given its slower growth, how seriously can Japan compete with India and China?
I think Japan will be a less ambitious rival. While China and India think that their destiny is to lead the world, Japan will be a rival [because of] fear of the others and out of a need to play the balance of power game to protect itself and its interests. Japan has a long history as an isolationist country that comes out of its shell when it feels threatened.