The aloofness of Pax Sinica

Branko Milanovic over at his substack:

When China Rules the World” (no question mark or conditional tense) by Martin Jacques is a large, somewhat repetitive, volume of 700 pages that tries to answer a number of questions that many people in the world are asking themselves: Will China’s growth continue? Will China become a multi-party democracy? And what might Pax Sinica look like?

On the first question, Jacques entertains no doubt: China will successfully move (actually, it is already moving; the edition of the book that I read was published In 2012) to high value-added and high tech production and growth will, for the foreseeable future, remain high.

On the second question, Jacques is more circumspect:  China might become a multi-party democracy but it is likely, if Communist Party manages to control the process, to look like a cross between Singapore, a de facto single-party state, and Japan where factional struggles within Liberal Party often matter more than inter-party politics.

He is scathing of the view, often heard in the West, that higher education levels and higher incomes will, quasi-automatically, lead to demands for democracy. (Although he allows that in twenty years “and likely more” Chinese Communist Party will no longer be ruling.) Jacques believes that China, because of Confucian tradition of “virtuous” government that puts the emphasis on quality of governance and not on the way the rulers are selected, is different. Perhaps he is right…or perhaps not : nobody can tell. Here Jacques’ book also illustrates the hazards of prediction.

More here.