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Yellow peril repainted

Is China a "rogue" country aggressively seeking hegemony in Asia, or a weakened one-party state desperately trying to control rapid social change? We may not know until it is too late

China is so huge, and carries an aura of such longevity, that one is always tempted to exaggerate everything about it. Problems that might be commonplace in other cultures assume an appearance of awesome intractability; and immense significance is ascribed to average achievements.

It is now almost seven centuries since the first copies of Marco Polo’s manuscript-describing China’s trade practices and social life under the Mongols-were first circulated, sparking western commercial, military and religious interest. Since that time, western concern to understand China has been a constant in travel literature, fiction and analytic forays. Most of these works take the…

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