The death of Mao Zedong in 1976 led to the dominance of Deng Xiaoping and his like-minded colleagues in the Chinese leadership. To Mao’s insistence that China should hew to the socialist path of development, Deng argued that “it doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black so long as it catches mice” — i.e., that capitalism could just as well, and even better drive, China’s development.
Thirty-eight years later it seems that Deng had a point. Although socialist in name, China is now a capitalist society. It has the world’s second largest economy, and its cities throb with all the appurtenances of progress and development. China has also reclaimed its place among the world’s powers. No issue of global significance, whether Iran or North Korea, can be addressed, resolved, or even discussed without China’s participation, concurrence, or at least its silence.