1.What sparked your interest in China, and how did you come to write your international bestseller ‘When China Rules the World’?
My interest in East Asia as a whole started completely by accident. Until the early 1990s, my work had been mainly limited to the UK and Europe. My circumstances changed when I went on holiday in 1993 to East Asia. I went to Southern China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. And I was absolutely astonished by it all. I found it fascinating – eachplace I went to was different.It was during this time that a question came to my mind: city states like Hong Kong and Singapore are so modern, but are they Western?It also so happened that I met my future wife on that trip in Malaysia. So it was a passion for what I was seeing and my passion for my wife.
2.What do you believe has been the key determinant behind China’s recent growth?
When China started its economic transformation under Deng Xiaoping, there were already clear examples that this strategy was more successful than the Maoist period. There was the opening up of the Chinese market, the focus on export-led growth and a combination of state and market. This turned out to be a very fruitful approach.However, too often neglected is the role of Mao Zedong from 1949 onwards.The success of the reform period was built on Mao. Mao wasn’t a great policy person, but the fact that he overcame 150 years of Chinese decline and fragmentation was hugely important and never to be underestimated. In that sense, I would say that Mao was more important than Deng, even though I hugely admire Deng. What Mao provided was the basic foundations for China’s growth.Historically, China was a prosperous power until the end of the 18th century. This huge country has, since about 211BC, been unified as a single large polity. Indeed, there have been periods of fragmentation and periods of cohesion. But the worst periods of Chinese have been when it was fragmented, and the best periods have been when it was cohesive. It has a strong sense of being unified.Central to that is the state. This is something that Westerners don’t understand. They don’t understand the Chinese state. It is very different from Western states.Mao reconstituted the state as an effective institution. If the state is not effective in Chinese society, then Chinese society does not work. That’s what Mao’s achievement was.So the question shouldn’t be, ‘Wow, how did they do it after 1978?’,
马丁•雅克 中国经济 当中国统治世界 菁华专访
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