The Limits of Power

SIMON MAINA / AFP / GETTY

CENTRE STAGE: Chinese President Hu Jintao on a 2006 tour of Africa

The economic influence of the world's rising power grows by the day. Its trade surplus mounts inexorably, as does its stash of foreign exchange — the essence of influence in today's world. Meanwhile, its direct investment, loans and aid to poorer countries soar, especially in resources-rich Africa. Its embassies grow in size and influence, often surpassing those of the United States, whose power around the world seems to be waning. It's no wonder that diplomats, academics and journalists around the world speculate with increasing frequency about the growing "soft power" of the new kid on the block, and how there seems...

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