Month: May 2012

Peter Nolan: Is China Buying the World?

China is the world’s second biggest economy and its largest exporter. It possesses the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves and has 29 firms in the FT 500 list of the world’s largest companies. ‘China’s Rise’ preoccupies the global media, which carry regular articles suggesting that it is using its financial resources to ‘buy the world’.

Is there any truth to this idea? Or is this just scaremongering by Western commentators who have little interest in a balanced presentation of China’s role in the global political economy?

In this short book Peter Nolan – Professor of Chinese Management at the University of Cambridge and one of the leading international experts on China and the global economy – probes behind the media rhetoric and shows that the idea that China is buying the world is founded on misapprehensions.

To listen to extracts from an interview with Peter Nolan about this book, click on the links below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.

1. Peter Nolan begins by discussing the prevailing discourse in Western media, which maintains that China is buying the world. Click here [2:23].

2. I remarked that problems must inevitably arise when policy is built on misconceptions about China’s intentions. Click here [1:48].

3. Even if it is not the case that China owns many Western companies, isn’t it increasingly involved in infrastructure projects in the developing world? Click here [1:21].

4. Next, I asked Peter Nolan whether, even if he didn’t share the fears about China’s rise, he nonetheless understood where they were coming from. Click here [2:19].

5. It is a central component of the argument of this book that over the past thirty years Western firms have changed their way of doing business and now have a highly significant presence in countries such as China. Peter Nolan discusses this development here [8:34].

6. Following on from the point above, Peter Nolan explains why it has been so difficult for China as a recent entrant to penetrate Western companies and why those companies dominate global industries such as banking, aviation and technology, including new green technologies. Click here [10:29].

7. Finally, I asked Peter Nolan for his thoughts on how China’s leaders look on their country’s future as a global commercial power. Click here [5:21].

Merchants of Culture – new edition for a changing industry

When John Thompson‘s Merchants of Culture appeared in the summer of 2010, it was the first serious study of the publishing industry in many years. Thompson compared himself to an anthropologist studying his subjects in order to explain a field of human activity that strikes many outsiders as baffling and often irrational.

The industry recognized itself in the portrait that Thompson drew. One reviewer said succinctly: “If you want to understand the publishing industry, read this book” and one New York Times bestselling author called it “a must-read for anyone hoping to become a published writer, or who already is one”.

Now, some eighteen months later, comes a substantially revised paperback edition which takes into account the profound changes affecting the industry as print sales shrink and uncertainty grows over where power will reside in an electronic future in which the roles of publishers, authors and agents are set to change.

To listen to the complete interview, click here. For my original interview from the summer of 2010, click here. And to listen to extracts from our conversation, clink on the links below:

1. “It is to some extent a test of whether I have got it right that [publishers] recognize their world in the account that I have given.”

John Thompson reflects on the warm reception the first edition of this book received from an industry undergoing profound change. To listen, click here [2:06].

2. “By the summer of 2011, it was clear that the industry was going in a certain direction and that the ebook revolution had become a reality.”

John Thompson discusses the dramatic changes that occurred in the world of trade publishing between Merchants of Culture‘s first publication and this new paperback edition. Click here [2:56].

3. The ebooks future had been long foretold and was slow in coming. Was the advent of Amazon’s Kindle in autumn 2007 the key tipping point that changed publishing? Click here [5:22].

4. The key question: why has the ebook caused such a profound existential crisis in the publishing industry? Click here [5:35]

5. Finally I asked John Thompson if he felt publishers were doing enough to shape the future, or were they ceding control to retailers and technology companies? Click here [4:06].