The Chinese Century

It's their turn, after all. And they've been around a great deal longer than the US. Frum on the historical context:

European history extends a long way back: Cro-Magnons were painting caves 25,000 years ago, Celts were making good-looking swords and pots a thousand years before Christ, and the Parthenon is near as old as Confucius.

But here’s the difference between Europe and China, and it takes considerable adjustment to absorb all the implications of this difference.

The_Reception The history of Europe is driven by sharp discontinuities of period and self-conscious distinctions between peoples ... But with China, there really is no choice: You have to study the whole damn thing to understand any of it.

That is not to say that “China” is an unchanging unity. It’s startling to think that through most of the period covered by this volume, tea was regarded as a medicine, rice as an unusual addition to the diet. Over the centuries, the Chinese would worship different gods in different ways. Buddhism would come and then (largely) go. Spoken languages would arise and vanish, the written characters would change their shapes and meaning. Nor was this change always gradual. Chinese history would be punctuated with catastrophes as terrible as the fall of Rome and the Black Plague: millions of people could die in the tumult that accompanied the end of a dynasty.

And yet notwithstanding all that: a literate Chinese of the year, say 1850 lived in a mental universe much more similar to that of a Chinese of 2000 years before than did a literate Englishman of the year 1850 a literate Englishman of the year 1750.

There's much more here. (Details for illustration here.)