I am reading American Notes by Charles Dickens on his journey there in 1842. At the time, there was general critiscism in Europe of the way America conducted itself — the rebellious offspring from the colonial mother country — with slavery being an obvious target. The ‘New World’ carried much ideological baggage and writers such as Trollope described America as ‘that great experiment with democracy’ — democracy then being a concept more perjorative than advocated. I sense a similar, yet reverse, sentiment now with China. It has embarked upon a massive social experiment, the mechanisms of which are frowned upon by most in our own societies. But in the past year or so with issues such as the economic crisis, climate change and the development of Africa, we are beginning to become fascinated in the way China does things.