China Drops the Bond on Asia

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BEIJING: Forget about the bomb. China just showed its ticket to the rarefied atmosphere of economic superpower-dom: Call it The Bond. The perennial awakening giant of Asia announced a bond offering that will raise $500 billion in foreign currency, the first such gambit from an Asian nation since the Russian default. And China doesn't even need the money.

"This is a political maneuver to impress the international community," says TIME senior economics reporter Bernard Baumohl. "China's economy is still growing, and its foreign currency reserves are teeming, but they want to show the rest of Asia how easy it is for them to raise more when their neigbors have to pay a premium." Sure, rubbing your good credit in your poorer neigbors' faces isn't very polite -- but China knows that when this crisis passes, there's likely to be a new economic sheriff in Asia. Now we know it too.