Admittedly, China has the benefit of playing catch up, so that it can copy rather than invent, many new technologies. But, so does most of the rest of the Third World, and those countries haven't done nearly so well. Indeed, China now gets credit for being a major factor in African economic growth, for helping the German economy to rebound from the financial crisis, for playing an important (yet self-interested role) in putting a floor on real economy assets in Greece as its financial system unraveled, and for starting to be a team player in dealing with pirates off Somalia. Its latest new naval asset is a large hospital ship used to provide foreign aid, as well as for its own soldiers, much like American hospital ships. It is starting to democratize local government and is getting better at responding to major natural disasters.
China isn't all good news. Its heavy reliance on coal makes it a major source of new environmental destruction and a driving force behind global warming. It makes more excessive use of the death penalty than any other regime in the world. It is weak on freedom of speech and religion. Its civil courts can be capricious and it has abundant corruption. But, somehow or other, the overall mix is producing a lot of economic development.
UPDATE: Don't believe me, ask Newt Gingrich:
National Review recently ran an item arguing that China is setting a fine economic model to be emulated. And that came on the heels of disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich telling the Young Americans for Freedom, "You want to create jobs as rapidly as China? The Chinese pay zero capital-gains tax. If we had zero capital-gains tax in the United States ... we'd be dramatically better off."
Or, ask Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson in Wisconsin:
[He talked about how] casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn has already started building businesses in Macau.
"He's also creating resorts in Macau in China, communist China. And his point is, the level of uncertainty, the climate for business investment is far more certain in communist China then it is in the U.S. here[.]"
"As Jon Stewart recently explained, "So that's the Republican plan -- to fight socialism, we must become communists.""