China’s growth has spawned an anxiety industry to rival the infamous ‘Yellow Peril’ panic of a hundred years ago

China was at last awake… She was the colossus of the nations, and swiftly her voice was heard in no uncertain tones in the affairs and councils of the nations… China’s swift and remarkable rise was due, perhaps more than to anything else, to the superlative quality of her labour. The Chinese was the perfect type of industry. He had always been that. For sheer ability to work, no worker in the world could compare with him. Work was the breath of his nostrils. It was to him what wandering and fighting in far lands and spiritual adventure had been to other peoples. Liberty, to him, epitomized itself in access to the means of toil… China rejuvenescent! It was but a step to China rampant.

The Unparalleled Invasion (1910), Jack London

Look out, because the Chinese are the masters now – or shortly will be. At least, that’s the impression that can be drawn from recent media headlines and new books. “Buying up the world – the coming wave of Chinese takeovers,” blared the cover of The Economist last month, followed up a few weeks later with a front page devoted to “the dangers of a rising China”. Martin Jacques’ When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World was published last year and will come out in paperback in 2011. Last week, in The Financial Times, the headline on an article by Philip Stephens informed us that “a risen China reaches for power”. Unsettled yet?

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