The expanded paperback edition of Jacques’ highly sympathetic assessment of China clearly places this “civilization state” (as opposed to nation state) in the context of east Asian economic history.

Jacques’ central thesis is that, although China was late to industrialise and is still developing, its exponential economic growth is supported by two millennia of broad political unity.

The lack of open democracy, he argues, is less significant to China’s future than its ruling party’s political legitimacy, which has been predicated on massive but managed economic reform since 1978, with none of the shocks that have polarised or stalled most western economies.

Democracy-obsessed western analysts fail to grasp China’s alternative modernity, Jacques suggests, overlooking China’s historic cultural hegemony that will have a more significant impact than its economy.