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For decades, China's foreign policy was guided by an unambitious-sounding doctrine, summed up in 1990 by former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping: "Hide your strength, and bide your time." This week, China appeared to have decisively parted with that three-decade-old logic of keeping a low international profile, when President Xi Jinping delivered his most important speech in five years. In a three-and-a-half hour address to the great and the good of the Communist Party of China, he stressed that Beijing would no longer shy away from world leadership, and would even aim to promote its economic model around the world, harking back to an earlier era in China's 20th-century history. "It is time for us to take centre stage in the world and to make a greater contribution to humankind," Xi said on Wednesday, saying China "is standing tall and firm in the east". He said the country's "flourishing" economic model of socialism with Chinese characteristics offered a "new choice" for the developi...

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