Martin Jacques asks: What kind of superpower could China be?
The iconic form of western power has been military. Extraordinarily, the US today accounts for around half of global defence expenditure. Before, European colonial expansion was only possible because its fighting capacity was massively superior to that of the rest of the world.
That kind of overweening military power has never really been a Chinese characteristic. Instead the quintessential forms of Chinese power will be economic and cultural.
I don’t accept this contrast between a military West and a cultural-economic China.
The Chinese are enormously proud of their historical achievements. They believe that theirs is the greatest civilisation there has ever been.
They have a strong sense of their own superiority rooted in history. They have long had a hierarchical view of the world, with China at the top. And the rise of China is likely to accentuate these views.
The Chinese used to think they were superior, but do they still?