Today, Chinese still tend to admire American wealth and technological prowess. But one crucial aspect of the relationship has changed: as China's economy has boomed and the nation's importance on the world stage has dramatically expanded, Chinese self-confidence has blossomed. The U.S. may still be the world's undisputed superpower, but the gap is narrowing.
Why look upon America with awe or fear when an endless trail of foreign leaders and corporate titans now flocks to China to grab a piece of the action and to pay their respects? Indeed, even Washington now looks to China to play a more pivotal role in global diplomacy, not least seeking Beijing's help in contending with the twin threats of nuclear-weapons programs in North Korea and Iran.
Beijing is hardly averse to making pointed displays of China's burgeoning wealth and power, including recently signing no less than $16 billion in contracts with American behemoths like Microsoft and Boeing. The endlessly mutating relationship between China and the U.S. has entered a new phase—one in which the balance of power has subtly but significantly shifted.
[Excerpt from an article in TIME Asia]