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Over the next decade, will China become stronger or weaker? Its economic clout, global political influence and expanding military power make this a critical question in every region of the world. The answer will depend on whether brute economic strength or technological prowess will prove more important for a prosperous and secure future. China’s economic outlook has become increasingly cloudy, but its status as emerging tech superpower might be more important.

China’s rise from poverty to powerhouse has created new opportunities for more people — inside China and around the world — than any economic trend in history. It has created both a Chinese and a global middle class. The foundation for this achievement is built on two advantages. First, decades ago, China could profit from the largest pool of cheap labour in human history. Second, its low wages persuaded manufacturers in wealthy countries to “offshore” their operations to China to lower production costs and increase pro...

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