Perhaps the best indicator of China's soft power success was the USA's refusal to join the AAIB, perhaps out of wariness of China's increasing sway.
Another, perhaps under-appreciated success of modern China has been the major rise in living standards.
Relative to the USA, China was on a par with India in the early 1990s with just 5% of US GDP per capita (PPP).
It is now overtaking Brazil, the one-time darling of development economists, and is approaching the 30% mark, a significant improvement in such as short space of time.
The situation has gotten so bad that China will face water scarcity by 2030 unless serious interventions are undertaken, with 300 million people already without access to safe water.
Substances from cadmium to arsenic have been found in river water.
The nation has accounted for 1/3 of global growth this millennium.
China's centrality to the global economy consequently gives it huge influence around the world; it has a big voice in institutions like the UN (as a permanent member of the Security Council) and the World Bank, and also has significant leverage when brokering trade deals – access to Chinese markets and capital is increasingly attractive.
It is home to 16 of the worlds 20 most polluted cities and leads the world in smog-related respiratory and cardio-vascular disease deaths.
25.5 million tonnes of acid rain falls every year, thanks to the sulfur dioxide and black carbon that pours out of China’s thousands of coal fired power stations (provide 70% of total power) and steel/chemical plants.