More than a decade after China’s explosive growth began to trigger news headlines in the West, there remain two distinct schools of thought.

In one camp are those who say China’s continued ascent — and its eventual crowning as the world’s largest economy — is inevitable.

In the other are those who see the recent decline of the U.S. economy, and Uncle Sam’s reduced stature globally, as a mere historical blip, and that the idea of “American exceptionalism” (i.e., the spread of U.S. democratic ideals and free market principles) will soon reassert itself.

China believers say its huge population, superior growth rates, massive foreign currency reserves, pro-growth policies and cultural cohesion all but ensure that it will one day sit atop the global economy.

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