What's more, in this type of authoritarian capitalism, government intervention in business is utilized, in a way not possible in a free-market democracy,
to strengthen the power of the ruling regime and China's position internationally. When Beijing wants to increase investments in strategically important
nations, such as Thailand or South Africa, it can put pressure on China's major banks, all of which are linked to the state, to boost lending to Chinese
companies operating in those nations. For example, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which is attempting to compete with multinationals like
Siemens, received some $30 billion in credit from state-controlled China Development Bank, on terms its foreign competitors would have salivated over. By
contrast, though the Obama administration wanted to drastically upgrade the United States' relationship with Indonesia, an important strategic partner, it
could not convince many American companies to invest there, and, unlike the Chinese leadership, it could not force them to do so.
In short, the China model sees commerce as a means to promote national interests, and not just to empower (and potentially to make wealthy) individuals.
And for over three decades, China's model of development has delivered staggering successes. Since the beginning of China's reform and opening in the late
1970s, the country has gone from a poor, mostly agrarian nation to, in 2010, the second-largest economy in the world. With the economies of leading
industrialized democracies still suffering, today China, and to a lesser extent India, are providing virtually the only growth in the whole global economy.
Since 2008, not only top Chinese leaders but also people across the country clearly have become more confident about Beijing's place in the world. Some of
this confidence is only natural, part of China reclaiming its position as a major world power. But some of the confidence comes from China's more recent
rise during the global economic crisis, which put Beijing in an international leadership role far before its leaders expected. And, some of the confidence
comes from Chinese leaders, diplomats, and scholars traveling more widely, and realizing that their democratic neighbors -- Indonesia, the Philippines,
Thailand, and many others that used to lecture China about human rights and freedoms -- actually are falling behind China's breakneck growth. "Chinese
leaders used to come here and want to learn from us," one senior Thai official said. "Now it's like they don't have anything left to learn ... They have no
interest in listening to us."
China's newfound confidence has manifested itself in many forms. When the Nobel committee awarded the 2010 Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo,
jailed in China for organizing an online petition calling for the rule of law, Beijing condemned Norway and other European nations, and applied intense
pressure on European officials, and many from Asian nations as well not to attend the ceremony awarding his prize. Ultimately, several of the nations China
pressured the hardest, like the Philippines, declined to send representatives to the Nobel ceremony.