(BEIJING) – China is on the verge of taking a title the United States has held for 110 years: the world's largest manufacturer.
When China surpasses the U.S. in manufacturing later this year, it will be the latest sector in which China has challenged U.S. dominance, fueling its increasingly assertive attitude in dealing with the U.S.
An example of China's determination to be taken as an equal, it brazenly tested its first known stealth fighter while Defense Secretary Robert Gates was visiting last week, and China's generals have said they want to double the military budget.
"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 and professor Russell Leigh Moses told ABC News.
China's President Hu struck a more diplomatic tone after arriving in the United States Tuesday to meet with President Obama.
The delegation announced $45 billion worth' of deals to purchase U.S. exports, including a $19-billion deal with Boeing to purchase 200 planes. The other deals are in a wide variety of export sectors and include everything from agricultural products and telecommunication equipment to engineering machinery and auto parts. The White House said the deals will support 235,000 U.S. jobs.
Despite those potentially lucrative deals for U.S. companies, the booming Chinese economy continues to expand into frontiers dominated by the United States. It is designing civilian aircrafts, building its own space station and trying to match U.S. nuclear technology with 25 new nuclear plants.
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 more than 50 airports, 23,000 miles of highway and 19,000 miles of railway lines.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio