THE peasants in Sichuan are not the only ones who are restless. The better-dressed army of China-watchers in Hongkong is also on the move. For the past year, any hint of caution among China-watchers, particularly those associated with fund managers and brokerages, has been completely banned. Now they seem to be changing their minds. Among the high points of China mania have been Time magazine's description of China as ''the next superpower'' and the Business Week description of China on its cover as ''an emerging economic powerhouse''. Other high points of China mania are the three recent reports recalculating China's gross domestic product and per capita income using purchasing power parity instead of exchange rate conversions. Using the PPP method, the country becomes an instant economic superpower with a per capita income of US$1,950, a figure that cannot be believed by anyone who has ever seen a Chinese peasant in real life. There could be some very red faces if the Chinese economy deteriorates rapidly over the coming months, the yuan becomes worthless and foreign investors trample towards the exit. Very few analysts have been sounding warning notes about the Chinese economy. They have been happy to put their faith in Beijing's assurances Part of the reason is that some China experts may have relatively little experience. As investment moves in, it needs servicing with advice, and the more that moves in, the more diluted true expertise becomes. This can create a reinforcing cycle of glib advice fuelling more investment, which in turn draws in more poor advisers. Peer pressure is another problem. Bold thinking can be risky, and it is easier to under-perform with the herd than strike out on a route that may lodge you on the bottom of the fund managers' performance league. There is also a structural problem in Hongkong. Making a profit from a market fall is almost impossible because of the regulations on shorting stock. So why bother predicting one? With China, there is also a serious problem with economic data, which is often untrustworthy. These all combine to create a consensus that can be very difficult to break. This also applies to not only to China, but many other investment topics. Sometimes, it seems that advisers can find the silver lining in every cloud. Their vision is no doubt made more acute by the fact that they keep a percentage of all the silver they find on their clients' behalf.