The brief era of global dominance by a small group of countries in the West is coming to an end. The global financial crisis signals a turning point in world history, as significant as the end of the patent on Boulton and Watt’s steam engine in 1800. China’s long tradition of positive-sum thinking strives for balanced and symbiotic interaction of the forces of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ in order to achieve ‘great harmony for all under heaven’. In the complex era ahead, this philosophy can contribute to a cooperative relationship with the West in the face of the challenges that confront the human species. The end of the short era of Western economic, political and military dominance will be complicated and prolonged. It is challenging for ordinary people and political leaders in the West to accept that this era is coming to an end and adjust their relationship with the non-Western world peaceably.
If the relationship between China and the West is positive-sum, it will not only contribute to harmonious global governance in the decades to come, but also in the centuries and millennia that lie ahead. It would make possible the generalisation to a global level the harmonious development that China achieved for its own people for over 2000 years prior to the Industrial Revolution in Britain. This is a choice-of-no-choice, because the alternative is disastrous for the human race.
Peter Nolan, has been described by the FT as ‘knowing more about Chinese companies and their international competition than anyone else on earth, including in China’. He holds the Chong Hua Chair in Chinese Development at the University of Cambridge, and is the Director of the Chinese Executive Leadership Programme (CELP). He has testified at the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of the US Congress and lectured to the Board of the US-China Business Council, and is also member of the UK Government’s Asia Task Force and the China Council of the World Economic Forum. He has written over a dozen books about the country, including Is China Buying the World? published in 2012.