Will China rule the world? Many of its citizens hope so, an understandable desire given the country’s emergence from a century of relative weakness and “national humiliation” at the hands of foreigners in an otherwise extended period of pre-eminence in Asia going back millennia. For these Chinese, the natural order is being restored. More surprising, perhaps, is how many non-Chinese agree and either welcome, or are resigned to, the seeming inevitability that an emerging China centric order will soon supplant a visibly crumbling West.

Seven years ago, the British scholar and journalist, Martin Jacques, wrote a book with the provocative title “When China Rules the World”. Jacques argued that China’s remarkable economic transformation would provide the platform for political, military and cultural influence that would rival and surpass that of the United States and provide an alternative path to modernity as well as a very different world order.

Echoes of this thinking can be found in Australia’s intensifying debate about whether it is possible to accommodate China’s re-emergence as a great power without an unacceptable loss of independence, sovereignty and a dilution of the values which define Australia’s liberal democracy. Of course, this is not solely an Australian dilemma but one we share with the rest of the world. Sentiment, however, is firmly shifting towards acceptance of the Jacque’s thesis.

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