At 60, China for greater global role

China’s new status found voice in last year’s Beijing Olympics was bolstered by its role in fighting the global financial crisis and will be cemented on Thursday with the 60th birthday of the People’s Republic.

President Hu Jintao earlier this year publicly urged ambassadors to give China a more powerful international presence. His speech marked a firm step away from former leader Deng Xiaoping’s slogan “conceal brilliance, cultivate obscurity”, which China has followed for 20 years, downplaying its economic renaissance and keeping a modest international profile. “Work hard to make our country more politically influential, more economically competitive, build a more congenial image and make it more morally inspiring,” Hu said. The new-found confidence comes at a time when there are both calls from abroad for Beijing to play a more active international role, and fear in the West of how it could alter the world order.

But while a more assertive China is likely to be a permanent feature on the global stage, the government has little appetite for outright confrontation and there are limits to its overseas ambitions, which are outweighed by homegrown challenges.

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