Chapter 1: Introduction: knowledge, desire and power in Western representations of China’s rise
THE RISE OF THE ‘CHINA’S RISE’ LITERATURE For centuries, China has been a fixture in the Western imagination, variously described as the ‘land of milk and honey’, a ‘sleeping giant’, the ‘sick man of Asia’, the ‘Yellow Peril’ and the ‘Red Menace’. Now fast emerging as a global powerhouse, this once ‘sleeping giant’ has once again come to preoc-cupy the Western consciousness. With its profound yet uncertain impact on regional and global power balance, a new growth field of watching China’s international relations (IR) has gathered pace, characterised in particular by an explosion of literature on China’s rise. Indeed, not a day goes by without one being reminded of the ‘awakening’, ‘rise’, ‘rising’, ‘ascent’, or ‘dominance’ of China. This expanding literature has been fittingly called the ‘China’s rise literature’. That much has been said and written on China’s rise is no surprise. Yet, what is puzzling is that little seems to have been explicitly said and written about this particular genre of China literature, which itself is nothing short of a phenomenon. Whilst many in the China watching community are taken up with the ‘empirical’ issues of what China is and what its rise means, few seem to have seriously contemplated what this growth field is all about.