Emerging from the ranks of one of the world's poorest nations to second only to the United States, China is destined for a place in the history books. But history may also record the heavy price paid by the Chinese people and will continue to pay for years to come.
China's steady rise against the backdrop of a sluggish global economy has emboldened Chinese leaders to claim "firm confidence" in their development model. Meanwhile, seemingly robust authoritarian capitalism in China has convinced some American scholars that the model offers a viable alternative to Western-style democracies. According to Asian expert Joshua Kurlantzik, China's system in many ways poses "the most serious challenge to democratic capitalism since the rise of communism and fascism in the 1920s and early 1930s."
Contrary to the image of the China juggernaut, though, multiple crises have struck over the past decade. The sheer size of China's economy and population only highlights the magnitude of health, environment and social challenges.