By  on March 22, 2005

For most of their 2,200-year history, the Chinese have regarded their nation as the center of the universe. To understand this perspective, imagine the modern world without Chinese inventions such as gunpowder, the magnetic compass or silk.

The closing of China to outsiders during the 19th century and China’s embrace of communism under Mao Zedong in the 20th century changed Western attitudes to China, with many foreigners believing China’s greatest days were behind it.

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