The one million readers of Canada's national newspaper, The Globe & Mail, woke up to a rude shock one Saturday recently: China had taken over the world. At least, that is what the front page seemed to be saying. Arranged around a mischievous red-bannered masthead were 20 Chinese characters, in a type size usually reserved for war or moon landings. On further reading, they learned that this was not, in fact, the end of western civilisation. It was, however, a warning. The Chinese are coming, the paper said, and we had all better start learning Mandarin. 'Don't be left behind,' it warned. Almost the entire Saturday edition was given over to a profile of the 'new' China. Ten reporters travelled all over the mainland for weeks to give us their take on 'the long march to prosperity'. After 40 pages, we all felt a bit guilty for having idled away our time with the World Series and the US presidential race. 'Day by imperceptible day, China creeps into our lives,' we learned. There were features on China's advances in science, business and the arts. We learned about heroes like Yuan Longping, the 'father of hybrid rice'. We met the Beijing tycoon who owns six cars and two factories but suffers from spiritual angst because 'selfishness and self-centredness have become the only belief in China'. Much of the reporting was pretty good, but there were the inevitable bromides, like this take on Chinese values: 'We [in the west] bring up our kids to value freedom liberty and individualism. They bring up theirs to value responsibility, obligation and respect.' The same reporter later shared some coffee with three Beijing journalism students who told her that first, the Cultural Revolution was good because it raised Chinese 'spirits', second, Mao Zedong was '70 per cent right' and third, that Tiananmen Square happened because the government had 'to keep order'. The best part for me was reporter Jan Wong's playful survey of '10 things the Chinese do far better than us'. Among them are mobile phones, traffic stop lights that count down the seconds, and free alterations when you buy clothes. The 'China rising' series, which continued all week, was clearly meant to boost sales among the 910,000 overseas Chinese living in Canada. That would explain some of the hyperbole, like this from writer Ian Brown: 'By comparison, Canada looks spoiled and lazy - even socialist.' Some readers reacted badly. A few cancelled their subscriptions. But copies of the paper sold out on Canada's west coast, where the Chinese-Canadian population is highest. And people clamoured for more. As for me, I'm re-reading my old British Council textbook, Learn Chinese the Fast and Easy Way. I will be ready.