CHINA’S Role in a Shared Human Future, jointly published by the Beijing-based New World Press and London-based Global China Press, is written by Martin Albrow, a renowned sociologist and pioneer of the theory of globalization. Currently a fellow at the Academy of Social Sciences in the U.K., Albrow was president of the British Sociological Association, editor of its journal Sociology, and founding editor ofInternational Sociology, the journal of the International Sociological Association. Internationally renowned for his pioneering work on the topic of globalization, Albrow’s fields of expertise include social theory, organization theory, and Max Weber thought.
As early as 1996, in his work The Global Age (1996), Albrow launched the term “globalization” which was quite new at the time, but subsequently has become perhaps the most significant driving force of our times. In its most fundamental meaning, “globalization” refers to the intensifying interdependence of individuals, institutions, and states across the globe. This time, Albrow explores China’s role as a leading power in the global
community, based on comparative research on both the Chinese and Western world’s classical sociological theories and current practice.
The book contains 14 chapters in three parts. The first part “China’s Role in the Globalizing World” includes The Architectonic of Ideas – Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, Philosophical Social Science as a Bridge from “Belt and Road” to Global Governance, The Challenge for Belt and Road, China’s Role in a Fragmenting World, and Leadership for a People’s Democracy. The second part explores “The Theory of Global Social Order,” including Chinese Social Theory in Global Social Science, The Challenge of Transculturality for the U.S.A. and China, Pragmatic Universalism and the Quest for Global Governance, Can There Be a Public Philosophy for Global Governance, How Do We Discover Common Values, and The “Community of Shared Destiny” under Conditions of Imperfect Understanding. Finally, the last part of the book under the title “From Max Weber to Global Society” effectively links the theories of Max Weber with the proposals made by President Xi concerning today’s global transformation. In this section, the author discusses topics of China and the World: in Search of Transcultural Communication, the Case of Confucian Ethics, and China and The Future of Global Society.
“The main purpose of the book is to show the rest of the world that China has a very sophisticated way of thinking about globalization, about leadership, and what China can achieve in the future. It is about how China has been very well prepared to contribute positively to the world,” said Albrow at the
launching ceremony of his new book at the 2018 London Book Fair.
Albrow stated that the Belt and Road Initiative demonstrates how China as a new player in the world can help heal global divisions, and how it will serve as a means to promote global peace and cooperation rather than intensify rivalries. He also recalled the fact that when a Chinese leader speaks to his people, he often speaks about the traditions and cultural heritages of China, which had given him the inspiration to write this book. Moreover, Albrow tried to impress on his readers the idea that finding shared goals is crucial to fostering mutual understanding. “In rediscovering the deep roots of shared cultural values, we can shape a code of global ethics that can be the foundation of a resurgence of global cooperation,” he added.
Many voices in current times speak of globalization going into reverse. The reverberations of the global economic crisis are still being felt, especially in Western countries. The most significant consequence in global terms is the ascent of Donald Trump to power in the United States, a leader who wants to reverse what he sees as America’s declining power and who blames globalization for the U.S.’s problems rather than seeing it as the source of its relative prosperity. However, despite those reflections, globalization has not gone into reverse or decline. Whatever its stresses and strains are at this moment, the world is more and more interdependent. One of the prime reasons is the rise of the digital revolution, which has taken globalization, or the interdependence among humans to a wholly different level.
The celebrated Canadian thinker Marshall McLuhan, writing many years ago at the outset of the digital revolution, coined the term “global village” to describe the trajectory of world society. Imagine for a moment, someone takes a plane from their home country to London. The trip takes only 10 hours or so, an everyday miracle which all depends upon global satellite systems circling high above the earth. Upon arrival, he calls his parents on the smartphone and they can talk almost as if they were in the same room.
We are living at a level that human beings have not experienced before, as witnessed in myriad scientific and technological advances, moving faster than ever before precisely because of globalization. Yet the risks presented today are also without precedent in previous history, for example, the combined threats of climate change, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, mass migration, and the potential for global pandemics – all need innovative collaboration
in the era of globalization.
Sociologist Professor Anthony Giddens, former director of the London School of Economics, wrote the preface for the book in which he comments that Albrow does a remarkable job in his book of shedding light on the extraordinary changes happening today and on the pivotal role that China is likely to play in shaping their further evolution. Giddens noted that as the United States pulls back from its global responsibilities, China not only can, but must, assume a pivotal position in shaping global society for the better.
Xiang Xiaowei, minister counselor for culture at the Chinese Embassy in London, said that the book is a ground-breaking theoretical contribution with major academic and social significance, adding that as a component of Sino-British cultural exchange, cooperation in the field of ideological dialogue and the publishing industry is particularly important. “The book offers a new perspective for observing the impact China’s development is having on the world,” he said.