The growing role of China on the international stage is strongly connected to the rise of Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012. During the last seven years, Xi has been building his international profile and has put China once again at the center of global affairs. For example, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) purposed by President Xi well represents the role that China should play in the 21st century.
The setting up of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an alternative to Western-led financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is another example of the growing importance of China in global policy and global markets. The clear message here is that China, little by little, is replacing the global leadership currently held by the United States, having found obstructions in being recognized as the world's second economy inside major multilateral institutions.
In terms of power, the distinction between "hard power" and "soft power" must be considered. Hard power reflects economic and military strength while soft power is related to cultural features, technology, education and immigration policy. In order to become a truly global leader, a country must possess a combination of both.
Since Deng Xiaoping's reform and opening-up policy took effect in late 1979, China has made enormous progress in terms of economic development in the four decades since, has become the world's second largest economy and has constantly improved its military status as recently demonstrated during the celebration for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
China has also invested in increasing its soft power through the setting up of Confucius Institutes all over the world, becoming a technology hub in direct competition with the United States as well as an absolute leader in fintech, investing a lot of resources in its education system as shown by the steady progress of Tsinghua University and Peking University in global rankings. At the same time, China has improved its immigration policies to promote economic and social development towards the attraction of talents representing a win-win situation for both China and foreign workers.