With so many pressing problems right here at home, it was nevertheless a very good decision for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber to bring a leading writer on China to town.

The British journalist Martin Jacques wrote a significant book, “When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World.” Obviously, from his subtitle, he is bullish on the prospects for even greater growth.

In remarks to BRAC’s shareholder meeting and at LSU, Jacques talked about the projections that China’s economic output could exceed America’s as early as 2018. That enormous economic impact also is coupled with a considerable gap between China’s “civilization-state” that conceives sovereignty in a different way than does the West, with its notions of discrete nation-states, Jacques said.

In an interview, Jacques said that in teaching in China he found a burgeoning degree of argument and intellectual ferment that is far more complex and liberating than in the traditional Western view of the Communist-led state.

While we hope that is true, China’s one-party state — oppressive where political change is concerned — remains one that has in our view long-term problems for its economy as well as its political system.

But if Jacques’ insights into China are proved overly optimistic, even then the economic and social consequences of China remain huge for not only its neighbors but for the world.

Louisiana is a major exporting state with major ports, obviously. But also look at the relative prosperity of even the most rural areas of Louisiana, where the growing demand for agricultural products of all kinds is boosting farm prices.

We commend the chamber for making this kind of thoughtful discussion part of its annual meeting. It affects us in Louisiana, more than we might often think about.