Given that China was arguably the leading power in the world from c. 1100-1800, and was certainly the leading power in the East Asian region, one would anticipate that the smaller powers in that region would have balanced against it. But this in fact did not happen. The reply might be in turn that this was because China was the kingpin within the international tribute system, and was therefore an imperialist power. But arguably this system was neither imperialist nor could it be explained through the 'conventional practices' associated with Western great power politics.

- John M. Hobson