The Economist lead story this week on China’s Paradox of Prosperity offers some fascinating fodder for a lecture on constructivism:

“In this issue we launch a weekly section devoted to China. It is the first time since we began our detailed coverage of the United States in 1942 that we have singled out a country in this way. The principal reason is that China is now an economic superpower and is fast becoming a military force capable of unsettling America.”

What strikes me about this paragraph is the factual assertion that China is now a superpower. Perhaps I’ve been reading too much of Dan Drezner, but my first reaction was “really? Prove it.” Yet now that The Economist – a leading authoritative news source – has stated this, is it now “fact”? Are superpowers what we make of them?