The year 2001 has been a good one for China. It won the right to host the 2008 Olympics, which should raise the country's status in the world. After 15 arduous years of negotiations, it finally joined the World Trade Organization, which will provide momentum for additional economic reforms. And despite the plane-collision incident in April, China-U.S. relations have returned to an even keel, with the Bush administration no longer terming China a strategic competitor but a partner in the war against terrorism. Indeed, the negative publicity arising from China's handling of the Falun Gong movement was one of the few discordant notes during the year.

The year also saw China assuming a more active role in foreign affairs. The late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping had designed a foreign policy strategy to deal with a post-Tiananmen massacre world that was largely hostile. Deng's strategy was for China to assume a low profile. He admonished his successors "not to carry the flag" of international communism (after the demise of the Soviet Union) and "never to take the lead" in world affairs.

These ideas have guided Chinese foreign policy for most of the last decade. Recently, however, China has adopted a more assertive stance: