Is This The End of the American Century?

This site features updates, analysis, discussion and comments related to the theme of my book published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2008 (hardbound) and 2009 (paperbound).

The Book

The End of the American Century documents the interrelated dimensions of American social, economic, political and international decline, marking the end of a period of economic affluence and world dominance that began with World War II. The war on terror and the Iraq War exacerbated American domestic weakness and malaise, and its image and stature in the world community. Dynamic economic and political powers like China and the European Union are steadily challenging and eroding US global influence. This global shift will require substantial adjustments for U.S. citizens and leaders alike.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"The End of the American Century" Sparks Interest in China

A Chinese translation of The End of the American Century was published in China in April, just five months after the book appeared in the United States (see earlier post on publication details). The editors at Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House told me that they translated and produced the book in record time, because they considered it a "hot topic." At the National Book Fair in Jinan, according to the publisher, the book attracted a good deal of interest, and reached #3 on the publisher's sales ranking.

A conference related to the book's title was held at the Shanghai Exhibition Center on May 9, and I was invited to give the opening address, along with a number of prominent Chinese academics. The event was held in the Center's "Friendship Hall" (see photo) which seated over 1000 people. But the turnout was unexpectedly large, and a separate room, with sound piped in, was set up for the spillover. The organizers estimated the total audience at over 1300. While some of the audience were students and professors, most were businesspeople, investors and clients of a financial securities company that was one of the sponsors of the event. So they were especially interested in the U.S. and global financial crisis, and how that will affect the U.S., China, and Sino-U.S. relations.

From questions posed by the audience, and in conversations I had with academics, journalists and financiers, the reactions to my thesis of U.S. decline was decidedly mixed, and surprisingly similar to the range of responses here in the U.S. Some agreed that the U.S. was in serious straits. Others felt that the U.S. would remain (or even should remain) the world's dominant power. Some felt that it was China's turn to take a more prominent role in global politics and economics.

Shanghai itself provides a stunning example of how far and fast China has grown. I last visited the city 20 years ago, when most of the street traffic was bicycles, and before any of the magnificent skyscrapers had risen on the other side of the river from the Bund. Now the city center is as gleaming and modern as any I have seen anywhere in the world. The many downtown shopping malls, modern and airy, are filled with outlets of the most popular (and most expensive!) Western chains. The city's two airports are modern, efficient architectural beauties. The subways and trains are clean, comfortable and efficient. The world's first commercially operating "Maglev" train (magnetic levitation) connects Pudong airport to the city center, reaching a mind-blowing speed of 250 mph. The only real problem in the city, to my mind, is the street traffic, with the chaotic and dangerous competition of taxis, cars, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians (more on this in a later post).

In later posts, I will post more information on the Shanghai conference, with the text of my own lecture there, and information about the other presenters at the meeting.

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Anonymous said...

Did you check out the skyline? Supposed to be the best in the world :-)

David S. Mason said...

Shanghai does indeed have one of the most spectacular and beautiful skylines anywhere. The flickr photo of Pudong is gorgeous, as is the real thing! I've got some nice night-time photos of Shanghai of my own, some of them taken from our hotel balcony!