If in doubt about how much China matters in world affairs today, just consider two news developments from Wednesday, March 13.
On that day, China blocked a request submitted to the United Nations by America, Britain and France that would have designated Masood Azhar, the leader of a militant organisation based in Pakistan, as a terrorist.
And China offered to help restore power to Venezuela, which is suffering a nearly week-long blackout.
The significance of both developments can hardly be denied. Not only is China able to protect Pakistan, which is to all intents and purposes, now its client state, it can thumb its nose at American wishes.
And its support for Venezuela’s embattled president Nicolas Maduro ensures that China can meddle with affairs in America’s own hemisphere. Mr Maduro has blamed the power cuts on American cyber-attacks and Lu Kang, a Chinese spokesman, said Beijing would offer “help and technical support” to repair the Venezuelan grid.