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Author of When China Rules the World says he's been vindicated

By Andrew Moody  (China Daily)

13:22, September 29, 2012

Martin Jacques says China doom-mongers were typically dismissive when he argued the former Middle Kingdom would have a central role in shaping the 21st century.

In his book, When China Rules the World, which some regard as a potential classic, he forecast China would become the world's largest economy by 2027, albeit using Goldman Sachs data, and that we were all going to be living in a more Sinocentric world.

His critics said the more likely scenario was that China was going to succumb to a crisis that completely knocks it off track.

"They were right in that there was going to be one hell of a crisis, but what no one predicted was that it wasn't going to happen to China, it was going to happen to the West," he says.

Jacques was speaking in the sitting room of his expansive mansion flat in Hampstead, North London, an area favored by intellectuals and film stars alike.

His book is now out in paperback after selling no fewer than 250,000 copies in hardback, many in translation in China.

"It is not bad. It is better than a kick in the teeth. I remember my editor Stuart (Proffitt, publishing director Penguin Press) saying he would be very happy if it sells 10,000," he says.

The paperback has been substantially revised, some 25 percent longer than the hard back with a new afterword to take into account the economic crisis, which was only beginning to play out when the book was first published in 2009.

"It took me 20 months to do this (additions for the paperback). It has taken into account the changes that have happened since," he says.

He says the intervening period, if anything, supports his view about the rise of China.

"When I first wrote the book I didn't know what the ramifications of the crisis were going to be. Now after three-and-half years, we know that this is essentially a Western crisis and not a global crisis, which it was always described before," he says.

"Most Western economies are smaller than they were when the crisis began and there is a profound political crisis of the governing elite, which you can see clearly in Europe."

Jacques, a youthful 66, was still barely out of breath despite returning from a run on Hampstead Heath and up several flights of stairs to his apartment, beating myself and the photographer ascending more sedately in a creaky old lift.

One of the biggest markets for the book has been China, where it has sold more than 100,000 copies in Chinese and made him much in demand as a speaker at conferences and on the lecture circuit.

Non-fiction tomes of this kind do not normally make authors that much money but it has been a commercial success for Jacques, if mostly indirectly.

"The main way you get money from a book is not through royalties. If all the sales had been in America that might have been the case but the cover price in China was just 39 yuan ($6), or about four quid," he says.

"How it makes a difference is that I can get speaking engagements and get a good fat fee. The more demand you get, the more you can put your fee up. I am not loaded. I wouldn't want to do it the way (Tony) Blair has done it," he jokes.

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