In 1902, Liang Qichao, a reformist intellectual of the late Qing dynasty, wrote a futuristic story called “A Chronicle of the Future of New China.” In the unfinished manuscript, he depicts Shanghai hosting the World Fair in 1962 (“Confucius year 2513”), on the fiftieth anniversary of a successful reform movement. By then, he imagines, China has developed a multiparty system and dominates a peaceful new world order in which Westerners study Chinese to improve their job prospects.

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