China has arrived … again. Beijing is growing confident enough in its own power and position in the world that it is increasingly and actively influencing world events. It can choose—and has chosen, in many cases—to play a helpful role in tackling shared threats. But China has also been standing its ground on disagreements with the United States. The two-day "Strategic & Economic Dialogue," which begins this morning in Washington, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and their Chinese counterparts, is the first extended sit-down the two sides have had during the Obama administration. And it will set the tone for Sino-American relations in the coming years.
American officials returning to service after eight years out of power will find a very different China across the table. China’s GDP has surged from some $1 trillion in 2000 to over $4 trillion today, with its foreign reserves expanding from $165 billion to some $2 trillion over the same period. Along with this growth have come more widespread interests and a great deal more self-assurance.
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