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Much attention has been focused on what Premier Li Keqiang had to say about the slowing Chinese economy in his annual report to the National People's Congress, China's parliament, and about a lower "new normal" in economic growth.
Last weekend, Beijing ended its one-month rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council. This was an opportunity for China to present an image of itself as a responsible world power, and the Chinese government grasped it with both hands, organizing an open debate on maintaining international peace and security.
China's development will generate huge opportunities and benefits and hold lasting and infinite promise, Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping told business executives gathered in Beijing for the APEC meeting. As China's overall national strength grows, China will be both capable and willing to provide more public goods for the Asia-Pacific and the world.
Over the last 35 years, China has gone through great changes. This period of change presented major challenges to the Communist Party's ideology. Many challenges were dealt with through redefinition and ambiguity. For example, Deng Xiaoping adroitly redefined "workers" to include intellectuals, arguing that while they worked with their minds and not their muscles, they were still workers.
When Barack Obama was in Beijing in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) annual meeting, the U.S. president met with the leaders of 11 other countries -- Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile and Brunei -- and called for the early conclusion of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a trade grouping that is intended to set high standards for the 21st century.
Last September, when new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the United States, China declared itself unworried. "India will not be a major player in America's game of rebalancing the Asia-Pacific," the official People's Daily newspaper declared.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and many countries are gearing up to commemorate major historical events.
Sixteen months ago, Hugo Swire, minister of state for Asia in her Britannic Majesty's Government, wrote an article calling for the people of Hong Kong to be given a genuine choice in the 2017 chief executive election and offering British support. He was immediately criticized by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Last Thursday, student leader Joshua Wong was at Hong Kong Commercial Radio to record a program when he ran into Chief Secretary Carrie Lam. The 18-year-old immediately reached into his schoolbag and pulled out a criticism of the government's public sentiment report released two days earlier.
As a new year begins, China is painting a world in which it plays an enhanced role while the United States and the West in general, though still important, are relegated to a less dominant position. This shows China's confidence in itself and its realization that American power will be around for a long time to come.
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