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Michael Clement—RIA Novosti/Camera Press/Redux

Xi Jinping has emerged as the most transformational Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping. His steady style exudes confidence while revealing little, capturing the attention of thought leaders worldwide.

His existential crusade to promote the country’s success in a hypercompetitive global marketplace is born of his formative experiences with a China in shambles. Xi is determined to break the sclerosis that threatens the ruling Communist Party’s grip on power, but he is relying on the politics of intimidation to do so.

While his preoccupation will be domestic harmony, the world will demand China’s participation at the table of decisionmakers. During his decade in office, Xi will become the first truly global leader to represent a country that for centuries has struggled with cohesion and unity. There is no middle path going forward — it will either be a failed effort, which would be catastrophic for the region, or a reformed Middle Kingdom that will become America’s greatest challenge and opportunity of the 21st century.

Huntsman, a former U.S. ambassador to China, ran for the Republican nomination for President in 2012

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