In yesterday's Guardian, Ash declares 2 April 2009 as the day on which, "through the catalysis of the global economic crisis, China definitively emerged as a 21st-century world power." This declaration the seemingly inevitable consequence of China's enormous clout at the G20 summit (even the French are now cozying up to China!). The China Post likewise, and not surprisingly, proclaimed the summit as "China's big break" and quite possibly the turning point of the global economy.
Fine. If China is now the new, official world power the subsequent question becomes that of what kind of power will China be? In an attempt to answer this question, Ash poses what he calls the "Chinese question of questions":
As China continues its inevitable rise, it is crucial for Western scholars to think outside the box in analyses of this growing world power. The oft employed Western paradigm of economy+military+political system only takes us so far in understanding the what, and why and how when it comes to China. There is, in other words, no clear formulaic approach to this emerging economy. So to that end, Timothy Garton Ash may be right. Or not.