MARTIN JACQUES’S MAMMOTH study of the rise of China begins well enough, emphasising the country’s otherness while insisting that otherness does not have to mean alien. He is frank, too, about China’s unembarrassed racial and hierarchic view of the world. He is also right to dismiss demands for instant democracy as impracticable, though perhaps an innate anti-Americanism prevents him adding that they usually come from the people who smirk at US naivety in seeking to impose it on Iraq.

Very soon, however, his zealotry in cutting the West down to size becomes tiresome. The rise of China is to be welcomed, and there might be something in his thesis that for the first time since the rise of the nation-state (China, he argues is a civilisation-state) modernity will not be an exclusively western concept.

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