How events in China in the 1990s shaped the world we live in now | Letter from Jonathan Fenby

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By shaping China’s economic rise in the 90s, Deng Xiaoping, Zhou Rongji and Jiang Zemin helped change the world, writes Jonathan Fenby. Above, a man walks past busts of Deng, left, Mao and Jiang. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

Jonathan Freedland’s account of the sleeping dangers bequeathed by the 1990s (The ‘peaceful’ decade that set up our current turmoil, 22 April) missed out one major development from that era with major consequences for our times. This was the decade when China’s economic rise took shape after Deng Xiaoping pressed the pursuit of high growth through semi-market means, Zhou Rongji prepared for the entry into the World Trade Organization, Jiang Zemin adopted a policy of accommodation with the United States and the Communist leaders offered the country’s citizens the post-Tiananmen bargain of greater material prosperity in return for accepting one-party rule. This combination changed the world as much as anything else that happened in that decade, leading to a global rebalancing complete with the fuelling of the western credit bubble, Donald Trump’s fulminations and the strengthening of the Marxist-Maoist-market dynasty in Beijing.
Jonathan Fenby
London

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