Bruce Cumings - Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in History and the College, University of Chicago
Consider that country whose economy is “galloping ahead,” or that country which is “galloping into view,” or that country which seems about to “walk all over us”: China. Its economy has indeed been growing fast–about 9.4 percent per annum on average over the past three decades (but no better than South Korea and Taiwan from 1965 to 1997). Casually perusing newspapers and magazines tells us China is newly “in view” (but where was it before unviewed?). Book after book now suggests that China is emerging, rising, overcoming the U.S., “putting it in the shade;” it’s likely to be the superpower of the 21st century (but didn’t we say the same thing about Japan in the 1980s?). I will argue that this fundamentally metaphorical position on contemporary China is a peculiarly American view and one that in many ways only an American would believe.