China is still much poorer over all than the United States. But the Chinese have taken a commanding lead in that most intangible but valuable of economic indicators: optimism.
In a country still haunted by the Cultural Revolution, where politics are tightly circumscribed by an authoritarian state, the Chinese are now among the most optimistic people in the world — much more so than Americans and Europeans, according to public opinion surveys.
What has changed?
Most of all, an economic expansion without precedent in modern history.
Eight hundred million people have risen out of poverty. That’s two and a half times the population of the United States.