How China, an Emerging Superpower, Will Test the Obama Administration

An economic partner, yes, but also a rival for resources and global influence.

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Obama may also find resistance if he presses his calls for China to boost domestic consumption, change the way it uses energy, and allow its undervalued currency, the yuan, to rise.

But, like Bush, he appears to embrace the view that China's cooperation will be needed on a gamut of international issues: trade, restoring economic growth, addressing climate change, fighting terrorism and nuclear proliferation, and prodding states like Sudan and Myanmar to treat their citizens better.

What is less predictable is how China's Communist Party will continue to meet the rising expectations of an increasingly vocal population. It will have to contend with rising unemployment—and perhaps social unrest—amid the economic slowdown. And looming in the background, as always, will be the question of when and how political pressures will return to challenge one-party rule over such a dramatically changing society.

Obama may well find the Chinese more focused on their own problems than the world's.

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