Thursday, August 11, 2005

China's Turn

Its exploding economy has tipped the world on its axis. At what point does it become a real danger?
By Richard J. Newman

It is easy to forget that China is a place of grand ambition. During most of the 20th century, China staggered backward, beset by 40 years of war and political turmoil and, after the Communists seized power in 1949, another 40 years of calamitous government policies and crushing brutality.

Yet for centuries, China was the world's most advanced civilization. As Marco Polo related it in the 13th century, China had paper currency and an efficient postal service before Europe even envisioned such things. Beijing's Forbidden City, completed in 1422, remains the largest palace complex in the world. The Great Wall, which stretched farther than the distance from New York to Los Angeles, is still staggering in its scope.
Today, China aims to reclaim the grandeur of its past. Two decades of reform, a more pragmatic Communist government, and the raw industry of the Chinese people have produced an economy growing faster than any other in modern history. China has become a juggernaut that is the world's second-largest purchaser of oil, and it will soon buy more cars, computers, and appliances than any other place on Earth. Perhaps more important: In its people and its policies, China today is infused with a profound sense of destiny, a steely determination to regain primacy in world affairs. The rest of the world is just beginning to digest what that might mean.

U. S. News & World Report


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