As a sign of its arrival as a major power, global developments this decade have largely been shaped by China’s acts of commission and omission, and by the world’s response to it. Although Beijing’s exercises of power took a sharper turn after the global economic crisis of 2007-08, China’s leaders had been preparing their country to assume the mantle of great power at least a decade before that. In 2003, the very first year of his term as party leader, Hu Jintao organised a “collective study session” of the entire Politburo for a historical investigation into the world’s great powers. His government then commissioned a slickly produced 12-part documentary, aired on state-run TV from 2006, that got a star cast of scholars to discuss the rise of great powers from Spain and Portugal in the 15th century to the US and Soviet Union in the 20th. One of the most important lessons they must have drawn is that great power status does not just settle on you, and must be fought for and won.