Once in a while it is worth pondering whether the conventional wisdom about China’s meteoric rise is right. Is China destined to move beyond its newly won position as the world’s number two economy to become number one? Will the United States be displaced from its primacy in global security? Is the rising power destined to clash with the current leading power? These are the themes of much recent commentary, including journalist Martin Jacques’ new book, When China Rules the World.

Thinking unconventionally necessarily involves speculating about things that are unknowable today. But doing so might prove a useful exercise before we reach conventional conclusions that are expensive, defeatist, or just plain wrong.

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