Why China is destined to take over the world

<!--StartFragment--> WHEN CHINA RULES THE WORLD<br /><strong>By Martin Jacques</strong><br />FABER &amp; FABER, &pound;16.99<br /><br />THE &ldquo;WHEN&rdquo; &ndash; as opposed to the &ldquo;if&rdquo; &ndash; that now prefaces talk of China taking over the world is chilling. Part of the reason is that it is an alien culture in many ways, that is to say, not Western, and therefore not commensurate with modernity as we know it.<br /><br />Jacques argues that China is destined for worldwide rule because of its strong culture, rooted in Confucius, as well as its large size and population. Crucially, he says, it is a &ldquo;civilisation culture&rdquo; and therefore won&rsquo;t bend to Western influences. To the contrary, Jacques predicts that our core values and political systems will bend to China&rsquo;s as the country&rsquo;s sense of &ldquo;cultural superiority&rdquo; exerts itself.<br /><br />But this is far from arm-chair sociology professor talk. Chapters are data-heavy and broach such topics as the role of foreign investment in China compared with other Asian tigers; Chinese savings rates since 1981 and relevant, comparative glances at Japan, Taiwan and even the USSR.<br /><br />But Jacques&rsquo;s argument may be too easy just now when the West is suffering from a crisis which has left China relatively unscathed. Will this continue? Asia experts have criticised Jacques for being too presumptuous &ndash; he doesn&rsquo;t put any energy at all into asking if indeed China has what it takes to rule the world. It is not a dead cert in economic circles that its culture and economy must clash with and engulf the West&rsquo;s &ndash; some say there&rsquo;s a chance the two spheres will merge. Not in Jacques&rsquo;s book there isn&rsquo;t. Even with a controversial premise, the book is an unsettling look at the growing might of China.<br /><br />HOW THE MIGHTY FALL<br /><strong>By Jim Collins</strong><br />RANDOM HOUSE, &pound;15.99<br /><br />FOLLOWING ON from his successes with Good to Great and Built to Last, Collins has packed an exceedingly timely punch with his latest, which looks at how titans &ndash; such as Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual &ndash; crash and burn seemingly from nowhere. He says that the fatal flaw may be lurking behind a perfectly healthy-seeming&nbsp;exterior.<br /><br />So, Collins wanted to know, how can companies tell if they&rsquo;re ailing when all the signs point to rude health? To answer, he has drawn up an in-depth explanation of how and why it happens, and then adds the necessary optimistic tagline, &ldquo;and why some companies never give in.&rdquo; Phew: at least once you&rsquo;ve plummeted from a great height, you just may pull yourself back together, like Merck and HP, which have showed signs of reversing their decline.<br /><br />As for the steps into hell, they are wonderfully ominous, almost Biblical in their tone, but also very true &ndash; in fact, the rest of the book just feels like noise next to the clarity of these. The first step towards doom is &ldquo;hubris born of success&rdquo;, which leads to &ldquo;undisciplined pursuit of more&rdquo;, &ldquo;denial of risk and peril&rdquo;, &ldquo;grasping for salvation&rdquo; and &ldquo;capitulation to irrelevance or death.&rdquo;<br /><br />The take-home message is that decline is often self-inflicted, and therefore it is possible both to prevent it and to reverse it. This book is bang on the money in terms or message and timing. Whether it&rsquo;s got enough substance is up for debate. <!--EndFragment-->