Martin Jacques, a columnist for The Guardian of London, argues in his book ‘When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order’ that ‘we stand on the eve of a different kind of world’. He challenges the common assumptions in the West that China will become increasingly like them. He is probably the first in the West to elaborate the China’s Minatory Theory from cultural angle.
He wrote in the Los Angeles Times on 29 Nov 2009 on how to understand China and I quote:
The fundamental reason for our inability to accurately predict China's future is our failure to understand its past. Although China has described itself as a nation-state for the last century, it is in essence a civilization-state. The longest continually existing polity in the world, it dates to 221 BC and the victory of the Qin. Unlike Western nation-states, China's sense of identity comes from its long history as a civilization-state.
Of course, there are many civilizations -- Western civilization is one example -- but China is the only civilization-state. It is defined by its extraordinarily long history and also its huge geographic and demographic scale and diversity. The implications are profound: Unity is its first priority, plurality the condition of its existence (which is why China could offer Hong Kong "one country two systems," a formula alien to a nation-state).
The Chinese state enjoys a very different kind of relationship with society compared with the Western state. It enjoys much greater natural authority, legitimacy and respect, even though not a single vote is cast for the government. The reason is that the state is seen by the Chinese as the guardian, custodian and embodiment of their civilization. The duty of the state is to protect its unity. The legitimacy of the state therefore lies deep in Chinese history. This is utterly different from how the state is seen in Western societies.
If we are to understand China, we must move beyond the compass of Western reality and experience and the body of concepts that has grown up to explain that history. We find this extremely difficult. For 200 years the West, first in the shape of Europe and then the United States, has dominated the world and has not been required to understand others or The Other. If need be it could always bully the latter into submission.
The emergence of China as a global power marks the end of that era. We now have to deal with The Other -- in the form of China -- on increasingly equal terms.