Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nial Ferguson's two possible futures for China.

Tonight I watched Nial Ferguson's third and final programme on China: Triumph and Turmoil which has been showing on Channel 4. He suggested two possible futures for China based on history.

Future 1.
British and American Imperial pattern.
China's prosperity continues. It is fuelled by increasing foreign interests and Chinese Imperialism. The work ethics of the Chinese are exported: low wages for long working hours while the Chinese themselves become the innovators.

Future 2. German early twentieth century pattern.
China experiences economic decline and growth is threatened. As a result there is increased social unrest due to increased unemployment, and the west is blamed. This fuels increased nationalism and aggression and the peace of the world is threatened.

It's been a fascinating series but its conclusion is based on Western historical models and I wonder if the same rules can be applied. As the first two programmes showed, China is unlike the West: for the last two thousand years it has been one large empire with a centralised power. I think China will take its own idiosyncratic way forward, and no one in the West will be able to predict or even, perhaps, understand its implications.


Blogger Maxine said...

Prof Petrona would highly recommend the book "Why the West Rules - for now" by Ian Morris - about the inevitable (?) resurgence of China.

Sun Apr 01, 12:24:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Maxine - I'll order that now! I'm intending to move on to studying modern China pretty soon.

Sun Apr 01, 12:52:00 pm  

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