solana146_LONG WEI  Feature ChinaFuture Publishing via Getty Images_xi jinping LONG WEI / Feature China/Future Publishing via Getty Images

China Takes Center Stage

Chinese President Xi Jinping seems determined to use his unprecedented third five-year term to reshape international institutions to suit his country’s interests. But the world’s leading powers must cooperate in addressing global challenges like climate change.

MADRID – When Deng Xiaoping came to power in 1978, following the death of Mao Zedong, he outlined a new national strategy that emphasized gradualism, ideological flexibility, and discretion. Deng summarized his doctrine with the dictum: “Hide your strength and bide your time.” In the decades that followed, this approach underpinned China’s transformation into an economic powerhouse, with Deng’s successors focusing on growth and maintained a low international profile. But it is clear that a low-profile foreign policy is not part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan to deliver “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Xi’s confirmation as China’s first three-term president, which will almost certainly happen during the Communist Party’s 20th National Congress this week, comes at a delicate moment. According to Oxford Economics, China’s annual GDP growth will average 4.5% over the next decade, before slowing to about 3% between 2030 and 2040. Over the past 50 years, China’s economy has grown at an average annual rate of nearly 10%. But its economic boom could soon become a thing of the past.

Against this backdrop, the United States’ annual GDP growth rate could soon overtake China’s for the first time since 1976, the year Mao died. In fact, the two economies are now growing at roughly the same pace: the World Bank has recently revised down its forecast for China’s economic growth this year to 2.8%, compared to an expected rate of 2.5% in the US.