Beijing — When President Hu Jintao of China shakes hands with President George Bush in Washington tomorrow and gives one of his fixed grins for photographers, it will not be just another meeting between the leader of a large developing country and the chief executive of the richest nation on earth. China is rising fast and is expected to eclipse the United States economically in the future – its gross domestic product is tipped to overtake that of America by 2045. While Mr Bush has only given Mr Hu an hour of his time for a state lunch, the global balance of power is changing and in future meetings, the Chinese will set the timetable. The rise of China is posing awkward questions for the US, along with the realisation that its days as the world’s economic superpower are numbered. Some analysts see America entering a period of ‘managed decline’ not unlike that which Britain has experienced since the end of the Second World War and the end of empire. Since the Chinese economy began to open up a quarter of a century ago, there are 400 million fewer desperately poor people in China. Now […]

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