Americans are now awakening to the status of their country in the world, that it has been a worldwide hegemon, even though the Americans had no such intention. The country simply grew into that role almost unintentionally. It just seemed natural for American companies to reach further out across the globe in search of the things necessary to keep their profits and in effect to keep the country growing. That the consequence of their outreach was to bring ever greater sectors of the globe into a certain kind of relation with the country was hardly noticed, at least as first.
Now that seems to be happening to the Chinese. I understand that the new play Chinglish captures the confused difference between what Americans think of China [= the world’s new hegemon] and what the Chinese think of their country [= up-and-coming but far from having arrived]. While the Chinese people have yet to grasp China’s position in the world the rest of the world marvels to observe a country of more than a billion people growing at a pace more than three times the pace that America has ever grown. That’s the significance of the appeal for China’s help by the EU’s bailout chief: it foregrounds the sense that China, whatever its intentions, is about to become the world’s new hegemon.