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China 2008 vs. 2022: More confrontational, stronger, and richer

BEIJING (AP), China has experienced a history-making transformation since 2008, when it hosted the Olympic Games. It is now richer and more militarily armed than ever before.

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China 2008 vs. 2022: More confrontational, stronger, and richer

As President Xi Jinping prepares for the February Winter Olympics, his government has more leverage to exert influence overseas and resist criticisms from the United States and other countries over trade, technology theft, and treatment of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China's Muslim minorities.

Today's economy is three times bigger. The Communist Party, which is ruling the country, is trying to make it a "technology power", and is spending more money on its military than any other country.

Jean-Pierre Cabestan of Hong Kong Baptist University, an expert on Chinese politics, said that 2008 was a turning point. "That was the beginning China's assertiveness."

China was poised to surpass Japan as the No. 2 global economy in 2008 when fireworks were lit up over Beijing. China was poised to surpass Japan as the No. 2 global economy. The most expensive Summer Games ever were celebrated by the ruling party.

It was dubbed China's "coming-out party" by foreign media, echoing the 1964 Tokyo Olympics that represented Japan's post-World War II recovery. Beijing, after three decades of focusing on development, was ready to make a comeback on the international stage as an economic or political power.

In 2012, when Xi was elected to power, the ruling party declared a more assertive stance. It called for "more strategic right," military status, and a greater global role.

Xi's government believes its one-party dictatorship system is under threat. It accuses Washington that it wants to deny China its rightful place as a global leader. To block any foreign influence it considers harmful, the ruling party is increasing its control over society and businesses. It is trying to intimidate Taiwan, an island democracy Beijing claims belongs to China.

Shi Yinhong, a Renmin University professor of international relations in Beijing, said that "you can see that China has been forced to do so by the United States and its allies like Australia, Japan, and Britain."

Xi wants to consolidate his control over China. He is expected use the key political meetings in 2022 to attempt to overthrow tradition and remain in power for a third term of five years as head of his ruling party. He had earlier changed the Chinese constitution to remove term limits from his presidency role.

Cabestan stated that China was once more open to the outside world, but is now "much less paranoid".

China has been sending warplanes to Taiwan in increasing numbers. China is investing money in developing nuclear-capable missiles capable of hitting the United States, as well as aircraft carriers and other weapons that will allow it to expand its military reach beyond China's borders.

Shi stated that Chinese leaders believe they must defend themselves on multiple fronts. Shi mentioned that a tariff war was launched in 2018 by the then-President Donald Trump; restrictions on U.S. technology access; and military alliances including Japan, Australia, and other countries to counter Beijing’s claims to South China Sea and other territories.

Shi stated that if there are bad relations between China and other countries, it is because China harms the other country.

Summer Games preparations in 2008 included a $43Billion makeover of Beijing. They built the striking Bird's Nest stadium, as well as other Olympic venues. They also installed new subway lines and upgraded roads. In thousands of parks across China, exercise equipment was installed.

Capital, one of the most smoggy cities in the world, launched a campaign called "blue Sky" that closed down or replaced power plants, steelmills, and other facilities. Traffic controls were also implemented at an estimated $10 billion cost.

Today, Xi's government struggles with pollution, debt and other excesses from earlier years. The government is also engaged in a marathon campaign to promote sustainable growth through consumer spending, rather than exports or investment, which was launched before Xi took power.

The ruling party has a vaguely defined initiative, dubbed "common prosper" after a 1950s slogan. It aims to reduce the politically volatile wealth gap between China's working-class majority and a billionaire elite.

The party is urging successful private sector companies to invest in its efforts to decrease reliance on Japan, Europe, and the United States as technology suppliers. This includes developing computer chips and other products. They pay for the creation of rural jobs and other political initiatives.

Xi and other leaders have promised to open more markets to foreign and private competition, while also claiming that government-owned banks and oil producers are the "core" of the economy. However, business groups claim that global companies are being excluded from promising technology and other areas despite efforts such as ending foreign ownership limits in auto manufacturing.

Xi stated that China will "continue to expand its opening to the outside world" in a Jan. 17 speech via video link to the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland. He said he would "ensure that all enterprises have equal status in law and equal opportunities."

In a slap on Washington, Xi complained of "hegemonic bullying" saying that governments should "abandon a Cold War mindset."

Chinese leaders are faced with the task of stabilizing the economy and containing coronavirus outbreaks. They also have to force real estate developers to reduce the debt Beijing fears is too high.

China quickly recovered from the 2020 pandemic, and was the only major economy that grew in the following year. However, China's debt crackdown in Beijing caused a sudden drop in growth in 2021. This led to a decline in construction and real estate sales.

While the economy grew by 8.1% in 2021, growth fell to 4% in the quarter just over a year ago. Forecasters predict that the slump will get worse before interest rate cuts or other stimulus measures are put into effect. Although this would still be the strongest forecast, the World Bank and private sector economists reduced their growth estimates for this year to as low as 5.5%.

Tommy Wu, Oxford Economics, stated that economic stability will be the main focus for 2022.

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