Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.
—Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Factors Contributing to China's Rapid Success and Growth
While the West went about its business as usual, unbeknownst to most of the world China was growing behind the scenes, under the cover of its perceived role in the global economy. The Chinese were not going to be the underdogs for much longer; they had bigger plans.
In fact, the period over the past century or two when China was apparently dormant was actually uncharacteristic for China, as China had had a very strong civilization for many centuries. The current growth period is simply a return to the position of global economic strength experienced during the Ming era (1368–1644) and much of the Qing era (1644–1912).1 The turning point in terms of China's relative economic strength came when the Industrial Revolution pushed European and North American productivity past that of China's (and India's), a period that began in 1820 and lasted until 1950.2 However, as capitalism became more accepted in China, an undercurrent of growth and emergence was created, which many in the West failed to see or acknowledge until much later (or until it was too late). The quiet giant was evolving.
There were several factors that fed the rapid growth of China over such a short period of time.
Capitalism Became Okay
One way to begin to understand China's recent impact on the world economy is to ...