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What in the World Is China?

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What better way to celebrate a birthday than to take to the world stage? Last week, Hu Jintao became the first Chinese president to address the U.N. General Assembly, a privilege seemingly reserved for the president of the United States and colorful despots such as Moammar Kadafi. The People’s Republic, which turns 60 on Thursday, has evolved from tin-pot polity to powerhouse. And among the spectacular transformations China has undergone, its dramatic turnabout in how it relates to the world stands out.

China began as a pariah state, rejected by and immensely hostile toward the world community. Marxism shaped its view of international organizations as the "instruments of capitalist imperialism and hegemonism," and for decades China had little to do with them.

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