Easternisation by Gideon Rachman
The central theme of this “excellent” book is the “remorseless shift in the global centre of gravity from the West to the East”, said Martin Jacques in The Observer. Though this theme is “not new”, Gideon Rachman, a foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, pursues it with “impressive single-mindedness”. Since the financial crisis, he argues, the West’s decline and China’s rise have only “accelerated” – though many are in denial about this. Rachman, however, is in no doubt that China will, in time – “and probably not much time” – usurp the US as the dominant global power, with profound repercussions for the whole world.
China’s impending pre-eminence inspires great unease, said Richard Lloyd Parry in The Times. The Chinese are a people with a marked sense of “historical destiny”, coupled with a “deep grievance” about past humiliations. For decades, Chinese leaders have engaged with the outside world with caution, following Deng Xiaoping’s advice to “hide your strength and bide your time”. But with the succession of Xi Jinping in 2012, “all of that changed”. From the beginning, Xi has “picked fights” with Japan and other Asian nations, reanimating long-dormant disputes. Rachman’s “calm, lucid and authoritative” book suggests that the results could be calamitous. Gloomily, he quotes the historian Ian Morris’s observation that “geopolitical shifts on the scale of China’s takeoff have always been accompanied by massive violence”. “While China is key, this book has the great virtue of not being Sinocentric,” said Jonathan Fenby in The Sunday Times. Rachman examines every Asian nation, before embarking on an “analytical tour of the rest of the world”. The result is masterly and fascinating – “the best survey of global affairs I have read for some time”.