TIME Cover Story: How China Views the World

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TIME Magazine Cover, June 17, 2013
Art by Ai Weiwei for TIME. Typography by Post Typography

This week’s TIME cover story, which is illustrated by the artist-activist Ai Weiwei, examines China’s place in the world as it forges ahead into a new decade of leadership under recently-installed President Xi Jinping. For years, the narrative surrounding the world’s most populous country has been one of ascension, of “rise.” Now, as Xi meets U.S. President Obama for a two-day conclave in California on June 7, China has arrived and is in many regards an equal partner to the U.S., the existing global hegemon. TIME’s Hannah Beech writes:

For decades, China’s outlook on how East met West was simple: a proud, ancient civilization was brought to its knees by foreign gunboats, British opium and Japanese wartime oppression. Whenever the People’s Republic dealt with the world, it did so with a chip on its shoulder, and Xi’s forerunners larded their speeches with accusatory references to “a century of humiliation” at foreign hands. The West was regarded as arrogant overlord, democratic foe and subversive instigator rolled into one. That sense of historic injustice festered even as China’s growing economic power might have been expected to sweep away such insecurities. But the ascension of President Xi–he of the patriotic swagger, political pedigree and photogenic PLA-folksinger wife–heralds a new era of China’s interaction with the international community. Instead of simply positioning China as a vanquished, aggrieved inferior, Xi and his China Dream envision a mighty nation reclaiming its rightful place in the world, not just economically but politically and culturally too.

The consequences of China reclaiming its “rightful place” are far-reaching—a world driven by a Chinese consumer class, rather than an American one, would be already a very different place. But Beech charts the “uncomfortable realities” of China’s emergence as a superpower: its toxic environment, its awkward relations with wary neighbors, the iron-bound determination of Xi’s Communist Party to keep a stranglehold on power despite the growing frustrations of its restive population. China views itself as the Middle Kingdom, imbued with the mandate of 5,000 years of glorious history. But the rest of the world still sees a “foreign policy laggard,” preoccupied more by its insecurities than its strengths.

Click here to read Hannah Beech’s full story on China’s future, available exclusively for TIME subscribers. 

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78 comments
thuan.lam
thuan.lam

Chinese don't dream. Chinese know what we want, and what we need to do. Americans dream and hope and don't know what you want neither what you do.

xx1758
xx1758

 as a chinese, born and bred in the most populous country , i can see for sure that the biggest problem china face comes from itself-growing corruption of government officials, the widening gap between rich and poor and the discontened groups of farmers, who have lost their lands to industrial development but not properly compensated, laid-off workers and the graduates who have not secured job. chinese leaders always wanna look tough before its people, and care little about their image abroad. ironically, they pay little attention on the voices of the people either....that is double whammy!

ReadandShare
ReadandShare

TIME article above:  "But the rest of the world still sees a “foreign policy laggard,” preoccupied more by its insecurities than its strengths."

China and US actually share this trait in common!  We've a rising power unsure of how exactly to continue engineering its rise and its new place in the sun --- and a mature superpower unsure just how long this party will last.  And therefore:

1.  China's military buildup is one of the fastest in the world.

2.  US remains the biggest armament spender by far -- spending more each year than the world's next seventeen biggest spenders COMBINED!!

It bears repeating this shared trait between the two -- INSECURITY.  Not good for the rest of the world.

QuinnSysmith
QuinnSysmith

China is the new globalist capital of the world, and the reason traitors in the US federal government have been slowly and systematically sending jobs and corporations over to them. Their slave labor practices and authoritarian totalitarian plutocratic regimes are just the style sociopaths in power like. The rise of the police state and Kissinger's love affair with the communists and murders like Mao is not a coincidence.

Suchitab
Suchitab

China is slowly and steadily making its presence felt in all the fields. From movies to science to military to art....but one cannot be a leader in isolation...

_HoStan
_HoStan

@TIME How the world views china is much more interesting.

chaokai60
chaokai60

We can see on the Time cover, Ai Wei Wei's paper cutting art craft presents both China and Taiwan rising to the stage above earth, decorated with several flower patterns like shooting stars.

John16411
John16411

@TIME @TIMEWorld i tink china is not goin' to lead for its president is gonna be trapped lyk a rat by the fashionable cat obama'Godblez us

deetler
deetler

China has the opportunity to lead. The US and Europe have fouled out. Will China step up to the plate and get on base?

deetler
deetler

People need to appreciate the Yin and Yang of Chinese politics and take a dialectical approach when attempting to understand where China now stands. China can take the lead internationally if it really aims to serve the people.  1) Clean up environmental pollution and reverse ecological degradation, address food safety issues and continue reducing reliance on fossil fuels and increase reliance on alternative energy. 2) Workers need to be empowered with effective unions and safe working conditions. 3) The countryside needs to be revitalized by the promotion and protection of sustainable organic family farms and co-ops. 5) Combat corruption and nepotism, 4) Develop and popularize non-electoral forms of democracy, such as deliberative and consultative democracy, and 5) Stop the silly over-regulation and censorship of the Internet which will not be necessary if the aforementioned issues are addressed. China is already beginning to do all the things I mentioned. If they accelerate their implementation they could truly become global leaders in word and deed.

Nohgi Junsuke
Nohgi Junsuke

Something popped up from China.... What does it mean?

George Wang
George Wang

the situation is changing. Taiwan will become a debbit. us only concern interest. if it is not convenient to do so, they leave it alone and go away. this is their criteria. then it all depends on the balance of power between China and us.

Eric Yui
Eric Yui

Well, the only way for it to happen would be via the use of force...and in that case, it would be an act of aggression from the PRC. If the UN fails to take action, it would be following the footsteps of the League of Nations, which in other words is utter failure. Plus, this means that the US would have to violate the Taiwan Relations Act. We will have to wait and see if the Americans keep their words.

George Wang
George Wang

the value of Taiwan has gradually become very important for the geographic strategy of China. according to the situation will be taken over in future.

Eric Yui
Eric Yui

Not illegal...it's simply considered "a province of China". But this is defined by the only the majority of the states within United Nations, except for 22 member states and the Holy See. However, if you look back at history, ROC never surrendered to the PRC, so it still functions as a legitimate state on the Island of Taiwan. Indeed, "Taiwan" should not be considered a country on it's own, but a part of the "Republic Of China", along with Kimen, Matsu, and Penghu. But these islands do NOT belong the The People's Republic Of China, now commonly known as "China", as they have never officially "taken over" them.

Eric Yui
Eric Yui

Indeed, Taiwan is recognized as "a province of China" by most states in the United Nations...after 1971, that is, after the Republic Of China, now commonly known as Taiwan, quit the UN. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 was then implemented, officially expelling the Nationalist government as the legitimate representative of China. However, it was the Republic of China, not the PRC, that set up the United Nations in 1945, and was originally one of the 5 nations in the Security Council. It was after Mongolia and Albania (along with other nations friendly towards the PRC) moved a resolution to expel ROC from the UN, that nations around the world started recognizing the PRC as the legitimate representative of China (Voting to expel the ROC passed the 2/3 mark even before Resolution 2758 was voted on, therfore leading to the voluntary exit of the ROC). The US supported the ROC until 1979. Note that this was during the Cold War era, so therefore the US thought it would be better to ally itself with another Communist state to reduce threats from the USSR. My point is, this is all political BS... officially, the Chinese Civil war never ended, as the ROC has never surrendered to the PRC, but the PRC claimed it had "taken over China" in 1949. However, the Nationalists had moved the ROC government to the island of Taiwan, which yes, indeed belongs to China. Point is, Taiwan is ruled by the ROC today, whereas Mainland is ruled by the PRC. If they really want to call Taiwan part of PRC China, they will have to invade Taiwan and make the ROC government fully surrender, which of course, has not happened. Therefore, Taiwan belongs to the ROC (Democratic China) and NOT the PRC (Communist China). Know your history ;)

George Wang
George Wang

For the international policy it is part of china . Taiwan is illegal.

Dylan Liu
Dylan Liu

yes it is. it is internationally recognized as part of china. they have a one china policy in terms of diplomacy. if you have a consulate in one of them you cant have them in the other. almost all countries recognize only the people's republic of china. even america officially recognizes that Taiwan is part of china. know your own history.

Dylan Liu
Dylan Liu

es te guy wh ogot imprisoned right

Abdul Mohaimen
Abdul Mohaimen

really fantastic, in a year many times you are counting

Lukis Poto
Lukis Poto

fantastic paper cutting art cover

Eric Yui
Eric Yui

Taiwan is NOT part of the People's Republic Of China... Shame on you TIME for not knowing your history.

Jud723
Jud723

@TIME China is playing a game of Monopoly, and the the US is one of the players, the biggest prize 4 them is to control all the Ports.

Jhon Gorme
Jhon Gorme

"(Art by Ai Weiwei for TIME, Typography by Post Typography)"

JieJQ
JieJQ

@Eric Yui Poor guy, Uncle Sam is not the philanthropist, they just want to earn your money for the American people. You want to be the son of US but don't want to be the brother in mainland PRC. How poor,pity. In law, whether in UN or in US, Taiwan truly belongs to PRC. I don't like the ccp party, but I  do hope China become a normal democratic country like US or Canada or Germany. Don't be silly to learn from Japs or Korean to be the sons-in-treaty of USA.

jing345
jing345

The 2 Chinas need each other and they know it very well.

JieJQ
JieJQ

@Eric Yui In fact, US DOESN'T see taiwan as a country, taiwan is a region,a very special one, of PRC.

jing345
jing345

@JieJQ US is more than happy to use Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Philippines to butthurt China. Buffer states at its best.