Business / Economy

Promise, potential, performance

By Andrew Moody (China Daily Africa) Updated: 2014-01-20 13:36

The latest book on China's position in the world this century offers a nuanced picture of the country's strengths and weaknesses

Will China emerge as the dominant force of the 21st century? The debate on the former Middle Kingdom's global position has been opened up again by leading China commentator Jonathan Fenby.

His new book, Will China Dominate the 21st Century?, which is published in the US this month and worldwide in March, concludes the country's domestic challenges such as reliance on state investment and environmental concerns will divert it from being the leading actor on the world stage.

In this special edition, we not only debate the issues raised by Fenby but present again the views and opinions on China of the leading thinkers, authors and academics who have appeared in the China Daily European Weekly over the past year.

Our Cover Story and Last Word profile subjects have included the foremost China commentators from around the world and today we are giving them another opportunity to stake out their latest positions.

Fenby's latest book deals with perhaps the biggest question of all as to China's future role in the world.

He argues that we are unlikely to move from a world dominated by the United States - as was the case after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 - to one dominated by China.

He believes that by the end of the century, there will be a greater sharing of power with Europe, India, an emergent Russia and new players like Indonesia exerting greater influence.

He makes the case also that China will be held back - at least for the next few decades - by economic issues relating to the weakness of its private sector, underdeveloped banking sector and its inability to innovate as well as management skill gaps.

The book is the latest of a new genre of China's books that presents a more nuanced picture of China's strength. It follows on the heels of US Sinologist David Shambaugh's China Goes Global: The Partial Power and Timothy Beardson's Stumbling Giant: The Threats to China's Future.

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