Few countries get the public’s attention to the extent that China does. And few generate such diverging views concerning its economic, social, and political evolution. This chapter sets the context by noting China’s impressive economic achievements as well as current financial difficulties. Markets are questioning whether China can survive the threat of looming debt and property-market bubbles, while the general public is more concerned with the country’s political stability and security as Beijing becomes more aggressive in its claims over neighboring islands. How does one explain such extreme variation in views? Many factors are involved, which makes it difficult to be ideologically neutral regarding this emerging great power. If the diagnosis is wrong, then likely so are the policy prescriptions.
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