Perhaps foremost among those who are starting to conclude that America is past its prime time is China. For its part, however, the Asian giant keeps hitting speed bumps and taking wrong turns of its own. Its policies and pronouncements sometimes seem frozen in a bygone era and fill neighbours – and even admirers of its progress – with dread or doubt.
So, if the 21st century does turn out to be an Asian one – the way the prior one was American and the 19th century was so very British – who will turn out in history’s eyes to be the leader of the Asian pack? The obvious candidate is China. But is it cut out for the role of leader of the Asian century?