A comment piece on the two worlds we live in - the Eurocentric western perception and the Asian century.
Is the West lost? Not yet. There's enough other people who realise that increasingly we are going to have to look at the east not as potential resources for exploitation but at best as partners and at worst as dangerous rivals.
The author Martin Jacques correctly identifies the key problem with this relationship: put very simply, we don't understand them:
It is difficult living in two worlds - especially when it is the world called home that is becoming more and more parochial and less and less able to understand the wider world. It is becalmed, bemused, defensive, increasingly introverted and fearful. But there aren't many people I can talk to about it - you see, not surprisingly they are part of the problem.
And he also realises that the Middle East is simply a distraction:
How are Americans going to react to their country's decline and the rise of China and India? At the moment they don't believe it could possibly happen. Despite the disgraceful mess they have made of Iraq, they are still gung-ho. They are still convinced it is the right of God's chosen people to boss the world. And 9/11, unilateralism, and the invasion of Iraq have hugely encouraged that.
I suspect, though, that it was all a huge historical miscalculation. Always beware your moment of triumphalism: such emotions are a poor steer on the future. And that future is not primarily about the Middle East, but east Asia...
Also take a look at the comments, this one for example:
I don't kid myself that China is free from virulent racism and nationalism. Racial epithets are commonly used (Westerners are "Big noses", KOreans are "pancake faces" and Japanese are "Little noses") and the language used about Africans is sometimes appalling. They can be very parochial and extremely nationalistic.
We shouldn't be surprised by this- we are all human beings and we share the same failings. In fact our common humanity means that we are prone to the same stereotyping and beliefs in our own superiority.
Jacques' big mistake is to assume that these are unique to Westerners or are uniquely bad in the West. Factually this is simply not true.
My own comment is below.
Before making my comment, I'll state my perspective - I'm a British-Indian who spent a couple of years in Shanghai teaching young Chinese at one of the country's top economics and business universities. So I'm biased, I admit it.
You're all ignoring three things:
1) Demographics. The West is getting older. Soon there won't be enough young people to drive the economy and the state will be burdened with caring for huge populations of the elderly. This isn't a problem for India, but it's going to hit China too thanks to its one-child policy. Add to this the complex issues of keeping hundreds of millions of poor people satisfied in both China and India and you have a cocktail of problems.
2) Supply and demand. Western economies, and also India, are becoming far more 'knowledge' oriented: finance, management, software, call centres, R&D of all kinds. China, on the other hand, is a manufacturing economy, that's what it built its success upon. However, sooner or later its demand for energy is going to outstrip the supply. That's the crunch point. China has to either reduce its manufacturing and energy demand or get the energy from other sources, and that's a major issue.
3) Politics. The West, and India, are democracies. They are all flawed, but they are democracies nonetheless. China isn't, and won't be in the forseeable future. Tzimisces is correct to identify the current climate as one of nationalism, and that's dangerous too.
The situation is of course immensely complicated; but Mr Jacques is absolutely correct in identifying the Middle East as a distraction (though an important and interlinked one) to what is really going on.