Britain must stop lecturing China over human rights andstart learning about Chinese culture or risk being marginalised in the newworld order, a leading authority on China has warned.

Speaking at an event in Yorkshire, the author and academicMartin Jacques questioned whether the declining West could “grasp the future”and engage with China, which earlier this year overtook the United States asthe world’s largest economy in purchasing power parity.

The shift in global power will have a profound political,intellectual, cultural and moral impact on international affairs, added MrJacques.



Mr Jacques said: “Britain is still caught in an obsolescentmindset, where we are still living in a world we are accustomed to rather thana world that is coming into existence.

“Thisrequires a dramatic change in the way in which we think of ourselves and wethink of the rest of the world and our place in the world.



“Thearguments over Britain’s relationship with the European Union are a sideshowbecause that’s arguing over the placement of the furniture, it is not arguingabout the shape of the house.

“Theshape of the house is going to change very profoundly.”

The author of best-selling book When China Rules The Worldwas speaking at an event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of a partnershipbetween Leeds Metropolitan University and the College of Management at ZhejiangUniversity of Technology, Hangzhou, China.




He explained to an audience of Yorkshire business leadersand academics how China, a nation of 1.3bn people, has been through a processof radical transformation since launching a programme of reforms in 1978.

China’s economy has grown at a rate of 10 per cent a yearand by 2030 is forecast to be twice the size of the US economy and greater thanthe US and European economies put together, according to Mr Jacques.



He said Chinese people are very optimistic about theirfuture prosperity, compared to those in the West who are displaying levels ofpessimism not seen since the 1930s.

But as China becomes the dominant global player it is amistake to think it will become more Western, argued Mr Jacques.

“Thisis own hubris, this is our own arrogance. China is different,” he said.

Instead, the West must work to understand China and itshistory and culture, he added.





Mr Jacques described China as a “civilisation state” withmore than 2,000 years of history, which places great importance on unity,stability and order.


In contrast, the default mode of Europe is fragmentationinto lots of nation states, he said. And just because past empires of the Westwere aggressive and expansionist, it does not follow that China will be thesame; Mr Jacques said China has a “stay at home” sense of universalism. Headded: “Their attitude is ‘we are the most developed part of the world, ourculture and our civilisation is superior to all others so why would we want tostep outside China into darkened shades of barbarity?’”


China will seek to exercise its power and influence, butthrough economic and cultural means rather military or political, he added. Asa consequence, for Westerners the world will become increasingly less familiar.

“Wehave been very privileged. The furniture of the world has been our furniture,our creation. That’s not going to continue in the future,” he warned.

“Thequestion is, can we adapt to this? This is going to be an enormous historicalshock.”

In response, Britons should learn Mandarin and politicalleaders should stop lecturing their Chinese counterparts over human rights andlearn about Chinese culture.