On a recent trip to Berlin to meet Chinese personnel at think-tanks, nongovernmental organisations and the foreign ministry, I was struck by a distinct shift in the tone with which China was discussed. On previous European trips it was discussed in terms of emergence: an emerging economy, an emerging donor, an emerging governance model. However, two weeks ago in Berlin, China was portrayed as fully emerged. In the past, the discussion focused on how a country lacking parliamentary elections could grow its economy so fast, for so long. Today, that doesn’t even enter the conversation. It is assumed, a granted, a given. What takes the foreground now is far more tangible, such as China’s dominance in global shipping and port development, transnational trade and resource corridors as part of its One Belt, One Road initiative, and China’s great leap forward in the big data and artificial intelligence industries. Worryingly for the Euro-American sphere, all of this feeds into an increasing...

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