Perhaps in half a century, the world will be rather more interesting than the Sino-centric one offered by Martin Jacques

In my view there is both less to Martin Jacques’s thesis and more. The reason there is less to it is that the central principle he is asserting as a new one – that modernity does not have to mean westernisation – is in fact a very old one. It has been debated ever since Japan became the first non-western developed nation in the late 19th century, shocking the world by defeating Russia in war in 1904-05. Japan’s modernisation has never been westernisation, and it still isn’t, a century later. But the point and the distinction is less notable and less interesting than it might seem. Who cares whether modern Japan should be thought western or something else? It is just Japan, and to be cherished and studied and learned from as such. The same can and will be true of China.

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