In the April-June period, the Chinese economy's real growth rate was just 6.2 percent — the slowest in 27 years. Meanwhile, a University of Chicago research team revealed that tax revenue increases between 2010 and 2016 were 1.8 percentage points lower than the official real-term growth rate. This suggests that China's economic growth may have in fact slowed to around 4 percent.

U.S. President Donald Trump immediately responded to China's announcement of the slowing growth rate, tweeting: "United States Tariffs are having a major effect on companies wanting to leave China for non-tariffed countries." Trump has identified China's macroeconomic fundamentals as a weak point, and has attacked accordingly.

Various countries have surreptitiously begun exploring China's potential weaknesses — its Achilles heel. Just this April, a team representing the intelligence agencies of a U.S. ally visited my think tank, Asia Pacific Initiative, to cite a list of China's vulnerabilities and fired off a number of related questions before departing. During a visit to Washington later in the same month, I spoke with a U.S. Defense Department official researching the same topic.