Put yourself in their position. With their size, their numbers, their antiquity, their glittering civilisation, then the brutal puncturing of their “Middle Kingdom” illusions by the colonial West, then the savagery of the warlords and the Japanese, then the even greater slaughter under Mao, and now their spectacular resurgence based on Western-style capitalism and technology — how would you behave? Might you not be at once cocky and resentful, confused as to who you are, and consequently a little prickly and assertive?
Of course there will be trouble with China. What do we expect, a garden of heavenly peace? The only uncertainties, it seems to me, are how much we shall have to confront, and how much can be pre-empted.
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