China’s economic success has now become so clear that its relation to China’s overall position in the world has become a major topic of international discussion.

For example, the regular column of the Financial Times chief foreign affairs commentator, Gideon Rachman, was recently entitled rather sensationally “When China becomes No 1”. The recent announcement by United States Defence Secretary Robert Gates that the US would increase its military commitment in East Asia, simultaneously with running down its presence in other areas, was interpreted as “countering” China.

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