How China became the biggest boy in the playground

How China became the biggest boy in the playground

After five emperors, two regime changes and millions of lives lost in a century, China has completed almost two-thirds of its great revival. To be precise, the job is 62 per cent done.

Chinese economist Yang Yiyong has it down pat. "If you can grade beauty in a pageant and measure emotional intelligence, I don't see why you can't count a nation's revival," he said, grinning.

A government researcher, he believed he had found the perfect statistical gift for a country obsessed about numbers and quantifiable benchmarks. He called it the Great National Revival Process Monitoring and Evaluation Indicators. It had six indices.

China did well in civility of the people and social development, scoring 81.1 per cent and 78.4 per cent respectively. But its economic development managed just 48 per cent and global influence 46.9 per cent. Taken together, based on 2010 figures, China has achieved 62 per cent of its long-held quest for "great nation" status.

It is a journey which started when the Qing dynasty ceded Hong Kong to the United Kingdom after a decisive British victory in the First Opium War in 1840.

The humiliation of the first of several unequal treaties signed between China and the Western powers has been marked in Chinese history books as the beginning of a decline which it must arrest and reverse.

It had been a century of disgrace, during which China went through five emperors, switched from imperialism to republicanism to communism and witnessed the ravages of the Japanese occupation and a civil war.

By the time Mao Zedong wrested control of the country from the fleeing Kuomintang in 1949, he predicted that it would take a hundred years for China to return to the centre of the world.

When new leader Xi Jinping assumed control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in late 2012, one of his earliest speeches called the rejuvenation a "China Dream".

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