The 19th century was the century of the UK. The 20th century was the century of the U.S.. The 21st century is shaping up to be the century of China. The Asian economy is growing based on real fundamentals and real wealth. The Chinese don't value things like derivatives as we do in the west. Wealth to the Chinese comes from the ground, which is why they've been scooping up all kinds of mining/drilling deals across all of Africa. I believe that the wars of 21st century will mostly be over resources, and so China is getting ahead of the game by utilizing checkbook diplomacy. Opening their wallets and striking deals for the resources they want. In contrast, the U.S. still uses gunboat diplomacy to get much of those resources. The Chinese government may be corrupt, but they are arguably a lot more intelligent than your average congressman. Unlike here in the west where parties and leaders are only thinking about the next election, these guys are thinking 10 -20 years into the future. So no matter who is in charge, the core agenda stays in tact. One of those agendas has been to displace/challenge the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency, which they are doing by purchasing gold bullion. in 2011 wikileaks cable confirms this, among other sources
The Chinese people as a whole are poor, but they are hard working, and are large savers. They save something like 25% of their income on average, versus Americans who only save about 0.5% on average. The country is quickly modernizing with all the latest in western amenities. It is by no means a backwater if you are in any of the major cities. Overcrowded yes, but its modern. So financially I think the country is doing fine, though they are not immune to periodic shocks. Socially, the country obviously needs work. I mean, its not stalinist russia, but its still lacking where certain freedoms are concerned. In China, the people are treated as a means to an end. Little pawns that can be shuffled around to meet objectives. Upward social mobility is still a pipe dream for many people. It remains a country where I would love to do business in, but not live in (or be a citizen of).
In my opinion, China will remain a stable country as long as the economy stays where its at and they continue to plow ahead with no recessions, which they have done for 30 years. An unbelievable feat when you consider that the U.S. has a recession every 4 - 6 years over that same time period. China will continue to play it smart by letting the U.S. blow up the middle east while they make quiet deals below the radar for the same resources. The Chinese people I hope will gain more access to some of the things we take for granted here. Honestly though, if the Chinese begin to consume as much as we do here in the west, there won't be much of anything left