To state the obvious, there are people on both sides who got it wrong.
All experts should be humble about their assessments and open to the ways that Chinese interests, behavior, and strategy may change. Also, the knowledge of history, strategy and theory continues to be useful tools in research, analysis and advocacy.
For this reason, many foreign-policy China hands of this generation invest in building equally strong theoretical backgrounds as they do in country knowledge. But for whatever reason, we are seeing a trend of discounting area expertise. Because of this, many of us couch our research agendas in language that appeals to generalists and downplay our strong China backgrounds for the sake of publishing in political science journals or scoring tenure.