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Posted Tuesday, January 16, 2007

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(London, January 11, 2007) — In this week's issue of TIME, managing editor Richard Stengel announces the inauguration of a regular section that will focus exclusively on China, including reporting from Beijing bureau chief Simon Elegant, Bill Powell in Shanghai and Hannah Beech in Bangkok, among others. In the 21st century, "there is no bigger story than this," Stengel writes. "What happens to China — and what happens within China — will affect all of us in one way or another."

TIME's deputy managing editor Michael Elliott reports on how China is turning its commercial might into real political muscle, striding onto the global stage and acting like a nation that very much intends to become the world's next great power. "You may know all about the world coming to China," he writes, "But you probably know less about how China is going out to the world." TIME reports that China is investing heavily in Africa, South America, and Thailand, transforming economies from Angola to Australia and having a far greater role than U.S. aid in revitalizing Southeast Asia. It is easy to imagine that — as many Chinese would tell the tale — after nearly 200 years of foreign humiliation, invasion, civil war, revolution and unspeakable horrors, China is preparing for a date with destiny. "The Chinese wouldn't put it this way themselves," says Kenneth Lieberthal, a former director at the National Security Council Asia desk, "But in their hearts I think they believe that the 21st century is China's century."

President Hu Jintao has also taken a greater role in world affairs, and has been forced to learn the art of international diplomacy. While some in Washington are optimistic about China's becoming a "responsible stakeholder" in international affairs, nobody is getting carried away. TIME's Elliott writes that Beijing has been helpful on North Korea because it's more important to China that Pyongyang not provoke a regional nuclear arms race than it is to deny the U.S. diplomatic support. When it comes to Iran's nuclear ambitions, however, one senior U.S. official says, "It's hard to say China has been helpful."

Optimists believe China's rise can remain peaceful, with China neither provoking others to rein in its power nor slipping into outward aggression. But some aspects of China's rise, TIME reports, are real and troubling, including its status as a one-party state, not a democracy. And, as long as China continues to hold billions of dollars of United States government assets, the U.S. will suffer from a lack of real leverage. Elliott writes, "There need be no wars between China and the U.S., no catastrophes, no economic competition that gets out of hand. But in this century the relative power of the U.S. is going to decline, and that of China is going to rise."

- more -

INSIDE TIME EUROPE INTERVIEW: 10 Questions For Ivailo Kalfin
Bulgaria's entry into the European Union on Jan. 1 should have been one of its finest moments. But for Foreign Minister and Deputy PM Ivailo Kalfin, that glory has been overshadowed by crisis. Two weeks earlier, five Bulgarian nurses were sentenced to death in Libya for deliberately infecting children with HIV, a charge widely believed to be groundless. "After years of isolation, Libya is trying to warm up its relations with the international community. Giving up weapons of mass destruction was very important... But for Libya to fit in completely in the framework of normal international relations — which we would also like to see — it must convincingly safeguard human rights, including in this trial," he told TIME's Violeta Simeonova Stanicic.

TIME EXCLUSIVE: Lev Grossman Goes Behind-the-Scenes with Apple's Steve Jobs
Before the iPhone was revealed at Macworld this week, TIME's Lev Grossman was given access to the phone, Apple Co-Founder and CEO Steve Jobs and his management and development teams. Grossman writes that Apple's new iPhone "could do to the cell phone market what the iPod did to the portable music player market: crush it pitilessly beneath the weight of its own superiority."

LETTER FROM ITALY: Reflections On An Alpine Village
"The Italian Alps town of Viganella, nestled in a valley near the Swiss border, sounds cozy, but come wintertime, nestled turns nasty, as not a ray of sun touches the town for nearly three months," writes TIME's Jeff Israely. So Viganella's mayor got the bright idea to install a giant, rotating mirror on a 900-m-high ridge to reflect the sun down on the shaded town's lone piazza. Viganella has declined with the sunset of the local iron industry. The hope is that both by luring more of the town's some 150 residents into the public square, and by attracting visitors, this device might revive an area that has lost more than two-thirds of its population in the past century. "This town is heading for extinction. We need to do something," he says. "Remember when they built the Eiffel Tower? People said, 'What's the point?' Now look at Paris," says Franco Rolandi.

JOE KLEIN: When Bad Missions Happen To Good Generals
TIME's Joe Klein examines the surge, which he calls, "marketing spin for a last effort to apply counterinsurgency tactics to the civil war in Iraq." Klein writes that the very standards of counterinsurgency that Lieutenant General David Petraeus helped develop, "probably won't work in Baghdad." Andrew Krepinevich, a leading military thinker, tells TIME, "If this is Plan B, we'd better start working on Plan C."


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