Look Out Boeing, NASA, Here Comes China

VIDEO: Sec. of State discusses foreign policy and political rhetoric.
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President Hu struck a diplomatic tone with President Obama today, announcing $45 billion worth of deals that the White House said will support 235,000 U.S. jobs.

China agreed to purchase a wide variety of U.S. exports, everything from agricultural products and telecommunications equipment to engineering machinery and auto parts. The deal also includes a $19 billion contract with Boeing for 200 planes.

But even as China buys American, it is still hot on America's heels, expanding into frontiers dominated by the United States. It is designing its first commercial airplane, building its own space station and it brazenly tested its first stealth fighter jet when U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited the country last week.

"I think we're going to see a China that's going to spread its wings more, a China that is not going to be contained or pushed around," Beijing-based analyst Russell Leigh Moses told ABC News.

The statistics spell out China's rapid growth.

While state and municipal governments in the U.S. struggle with massive deficits, China is designing vast infrastructure upgrades.

It will begin construction this year on 16,000 miles of highway, boasting that in just five years the country will have more highways than America.

The Chinese also are beginning to lay 19,000 miles of railway lines, tracks that the country will need as 640 million people travel home for the spring festival in the next six weeks.

China not only is investing in physical infrastructure, but also in its people. Chinese children spend an average of 41 more days in school than their American counterparts, and Chinese students top the world in science, math and reading scores.

China: Connected -- and Censored

China also is more connected than it ever has been. The number of Chinese people on the Internet grew by 19 percent last year to 457 million, and the number of people accessing the Web via mobile phones jumped 29.6 percent to 303 million.

The communist government welcomes and fears such numbers. While it promotes Internet use for business and education, it operates an extensive censorship system that blocks material the government considers subversive or pornographic. Such heavy-handed censorship is a source of ongoing tension between the U.S. and China.

For all the boom and buzz, sobering realities still loom large. China is a nation where 150 million people live on less than $2 a day and where human rights abuses abound. But China is determined to look to the future and grow even more influential on the world stage in 2011.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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