There are numerous socioeconomic, cultural, and political theories for why China's civilization fell behind the West after the 18th century. The subject of European industrialization and its impact on China is extensive and goes far beyond the scope of this book; however, a brief overview is necessary in order to understand some of the fundamental reasons for China's postponed industrial development relative to the West. It is also critical to understanding China's reemergence as a global economic super power, and the implications this will have on the global supply chain in the years ahead.

Shipping Point: We can no longer define the world in terms of “The West” and “The Rest.”

The term “re-emergence” is appropriate when describing China's position in the world today, because in many ways China is an example of history repeating itself. To truly understand where China is today, and more importantly where it is going, it is critical to understand, at least on a basic level, where China has been both as a country and as a civilization.

For the so-called advanced countries it is sometimes easy to simplify the world into two camps; the developed West and the developing rest. Understanding the degree and complexity of China's development can be especially difficult in a world that tends to measure progress against Western criteria. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 it appeared Western democracy had triumphed as the final form ...

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