In a speech to mark China’s 40th anniversary of economic liberalization, the Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the ‘opening up of the economy’ was “a great revolution in the history of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation”. He further said a quantum leap has been made in the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. “In 40 years, China lifted 740 million people out of poverty. China has built the world’s largest social security system, with the basic old-age pension covering more than 900 million people and medical insurance covering over 1.3 billion people”. “China’s share of global gross domestic product rose from 1.8 percent to 15.2 percent, generating more than 30 percent of global growth for years. However, sadly, no reference was made to the contributions to Deng Xiaoping, the actual architect of reforms. who was responsible for abandoning economic Mao’s policies, by opening China to international trade and investment. In a veiled reference to the United States trade war with China, Xi Jinping said that China will not allow any country to dictate to the Chinese people what should or should not be done. In an attempt to assure the world, he said that China would not grow at the expense of other countries’ interests. This comes on the back of the apprehension of many South East Asian countries over China’s assertiveness in the region, especially its refusal to abide by the International Court’s ruling that China’s nine-dash line claim and accompanying claims to historic rights have no validity under international law; that “no feature in the Spratly Islands, including Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba (or Taiping Island), is an island under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); and that the behaviour of Chinese ships physically obstructing Philippine vessels is unlawful. In an article published in The Economist, it was mentioned that “today Xi Jinping has become a dominant engine of global growth, and he presents himself as an apostle of peace and friendship, a voice of reason in a confused and troubled world”. Another report published by HSBC, China is slated to become the world’s largest economy with USD of 26 trillion by 2030, whereas the US economy will be USD $ 25.2 trillion. India, currently the world’s seventh biggest economy, will emerge as the third largest economy with USD 5.9 trillion. Today, the Chinese president is the tallest leader of the world, under whose leadership China has emerged as a superpower. The Chinese President’s claim that his country would not grow at the cost of other countries appears to assert his leadership. In fact, China’s has been bullying the smaller countries over the South China Sea dispute is contrary to the claims made by him. He even stopped imports from South Korea over the deployment of THAAD missiles. It is because of the Chinese assertiveness that has forced countries like Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea to look towards China to settle the disputes. Moreover, the change in their geopolitical strategy has been mainly because of the waning US leadership in both the South and Southeast Asia and its inability to act as a counterweight to both Russia and China. Another aspect of the Chinese leadership is that it has reached out to many smaller countries to assist them to boost the economic growth, through one of the largest and gigantic infrastructural projects like ‘One Belt, One Road,’ to ever have been conceived, that straddles through both economics and geopolitics. It is estimated that China would be pumping in $ 150 billion in the project in improving the connectivity through the old silk route. In fact, the humongous “Belt and Road’ project has been conceived to help the stagnant Chinese industries and create employment for their workers. It is, for this reason, that even its bellwether friend, Pakistan, has raised the issue of employing only the Chinese workers in all the infrastructural projects, causing resentment among the locals. It must be mentioned that Belt and Road project is skewed to serve the strategic interests of China. It is for this reason it has become an object of ridicule and criticism. Many countries have accused China of not meeting the developmental needs of the locals. Sri Lanka faced humiliation when they could not service the debts on the Hambantota port, forcing them to lease the port for 99 years to a Chinese company. In Africa, the Nairobi-Mombasa road is mired in controversy, as it is now saddled with huge losses in the very first year of its operation. Pakistan should learn from the experiences of Sri Lanka and Kenya on the danger of over reliance on China for its various infrastructural projects. Pakistan will face an economic crisis when they will fail to service their debts. It is for this reason that Pakistan’s prime minister has been critical of the US $ 60 billion Chinese investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It is for this reason India despite the aggressive Chinese posturing, has stayed out of the B&R project. China, on its part, realizes that it is can push India only up to a point, as India can put a spoke in their wheel of becoming a Global leader. It is for this reason China has thought it prudent to develop bilateral relations with India, in spite of the contentious border disputes. Both the countries have agreed to keep the border dispute resolution mechanism afloat for settling the border disputes, in spite of not achieving any breakthrough even after 21 rounds of negotiations. China is slated to become the world’s largest economy with USD of 26 trillion by 2030, whereas the US economy will be USD $ 25.2 trillion. India, currently the world’s seventh biggest economy, will emerge as the third largest economy with USD 5.9 trillion China has also realized that India is emerging as the fastest growing economy of the world and, China wants to partner India’s development by making huge investments in Telecom and other sectors. This is not a change of heart towards India but driven by business interests. Moreover, they also realize that they are now dealing with a different India and not the India they had humiliated in the 1962 conflict. India is not only a nuclear nation but has missiles that can strike at the heart of many cities in China. Any future conflict will lead to disastrous economic consequences for both countries. The trade between the two countries has grown significantly over the last 5 years. China has assured to correct the trade imbalance, by importing pharmaceutical products from India. Many Indian films have also caught the imagination of the Chinese people. In fact, when the Chinese President Xi met the Indian Prime Minister, he told him that he enjoyed seeing Aamir Khan’s ‘Dangal’, which has become a blockbuster in China. It must be said that China, under Xi Jinping, has played its cards cleverly by expanding its influence in South and South East Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. This strategy has helped China to expand both their economic and political influence all over the world. On the other hand the confused foreign policy of the US President has made enemies of one time allies. Many allies, especially in SE Asia, have become wary of the United States ability to come to their rescue should a conflict arise with China. It is for this reason that they have thought it prudent to directly negotiate with China rather than being on their wrong side. It appears that by 2030, China will displace the United States as the most powerful nation in the world. The author is an independent journalist and political commentator Published in Daily Times, December 25th 2018.