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1 Belt and Road Initiative

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The most ambitious infrastructure undertaking in the world, this US$8 trillion or so Silk Road reboot encompasses more than 1,800 projects across more than 60 economies that are home to 65 percent of the world’s population. As China invests in the developing world on an unprecedented, transcontinental scale, it’s also looking to extend its reach as a global power.

2 Singles Day

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A decade ago, Alibaba transformed a ho-hum Chinese holiday into the largest e-commerce day in the world. Revenue topped US$30 billion in 2018.

3 Tengger Desert Solar Park

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Dubbed the Great Wall of Solar, Tengger Desert Solar Park is a standout on China’s long list of solar energy projects. Generating an estimated peak output of 1,547 megawatts of power, Tengger was one of the largest photovoltaic plants in the world when it opened in 2015—and it’s still growing.

Developed by Chinese conglomerate Tencent in 2011, WeChat—one of the world’s most downloaded apps—dominates social media in the country, with over 1 billion monthly active users.

5 Three Gorges Dam

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The world’s largest hydroelectric power station (in terms of installed capacity) generates 11 times more power than the United States’ Hoover Dam while increasing the cargo delivery capacity of the Yangtze River. It’s also one of the most notorious infrastructure projects in modern history: By the time the dam started producing in 2003, 1.4 million people had been displaced to make way for the enormous initiative.

6 Chang’e 4

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This robotic spacecraft mission by the China National Space Administration made a soft landing on the far side of the moon (a first) in January 2019, sending back data and images from an otherwise unobservable part of our solar system.

7 Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge

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The longest bridge in the world took four years and a workforce of nearly 10,000 to complete. When it opened in 2011, that hard work paid off, allowing lightning-fast connections between Shanghai and Nanjing, China.

If China wins the race to become the world’s first cashless economy, it will be in large part due to Alibaba’s Alipay. Since its smooth launch in 2004, the service has grown into one of the world’s largest mobile payment platform, with 870 million users.

9 Shanghai Maglev

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It ranked as the world’s fastest magnetic levitation train when it debuted in 2004. And it shows no sign of slowing down: An upgrade is now in the prototype stage, which could push speeds as high as 373 miles (600 kilometers) per hour.

10 Shanghai Stock Exchange

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A potent symbol of China’s claiming capitalism on its own terms, the exchange reopened for trading in 1990—more than 40 years after closing with the Communist revolution. Many of the country’s largest state-owned and privately held companies flock to the exchange, which has grown to become the largest in the country and the fourth largest in the world.