In a perceptive review of Charles Pearson’s remarkable forecast of the rise of China as a global power, in National Life and Character, penned in 1893, a time of unchallenged European ascendancy, the London Athenaeum noted the significance of Pearson’s “Australian point of view”: “The forecast will take many by surprise, because the view it presents is not only not fashionable, but is fundamentally different from that to which we have been accustomed. . . . His view is not purely or mainly European. . . . The reader can indeed discern that Mr. Pearson’s point of view is not London or Paris, but Melbourne.”1

In Melbourne, Pearson’s point of view was shaped by a remarkable group of Chinese merchant intellectuals who forecast China’s future place in the world as a great power. Standpoint determines what can be seen....

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