Asia's dragon

China is full of dichotomies: It is rich; it is poor. It is developing; it is developed. It is a country in search of itself and is constantly remaking itself into a greater center of power and influence in the world. Its people are proud yet humble. They envision the day their economy will be the largest in the world. They build large skyscrapers. They buy designer clothing. They produce cheap knock offs. And they make massive quantities of products to export to the worlds' consumers.

China’s bold and vivacious entry into the global economy is at the center of most discussions about trade, international business, climate change and foreign policy. Many economists predict it will become the world’s largest consumer market by 2015. In the first decade of the 21st Century, China's track record of double-digit growth was the envy of the world. Growth of that magnitude has since tapered down to 7.5 percent a year.

China owes its recent successes to its ability to market itself as a leading provider of cheap land, labor and resources, but many inside of China are asking for a more -- a more sustainable model that enables the Chinese to rise to higher levels of economic development.

The China example is a story about fierce state-controlled capitalism challenging the world to compete in an aggressive, and perhaps defensive, fashion. China’s rise has a significant and irreversible impact on the way the world does business, hires workers and buys products. Yes, China matters to the world and everyone in it.

While economics is a focus of this site, it is ultimately a human interest story. For behind the news about China's economy is a story about human struggle, dislocation, upwardly mobile entrepreneurs as well as internally impoverished migrants. In short, it is a story about societal change on a global scale. A change impacting each of us in known and unknown ways.

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