Anthony Kuhn

China's President Xi Jinping finished 2017 vowing to boost China's role on the world stage.

The streets and alleys of Jiugong Township on Beijing's southern fringes are strewn with rubble from demolished buildings and piles of abandoned clothes and household items.

Authorities have given residents of this migrant laborer enclave just days to clear out before they shut off all electricity and water this week.

Sitting on a small stool in the lobby of Chinese electronics firm LeEco's Beijing headquarters, contractor Fu Hangxia remembers the company's glory days just a couple of years ago.

"They wanted to create a miracle," Fu says. "They did everything to the highest standards, and burned through a lot of money."

Fu's business boomed, as he produced the product launches and built stores for LeEco in China's southwest Sichuan and Chongqing regions.

As the sun went down Wednesday on the vermilion walls and yellow tile roofs of Beijing's Forbidden City, the first families of the U.S. and China took in a Peking opera performance in the palace where China's emperors lived for nearly six centuries.

It was the start of what China's ambassador to the U.S. calls a "state visit plus" — a highly choreographed blend of stagecraft and statecraft, designed to highlight the evolving chemistry between Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping.

Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader in years, began a second five-year term Wednesday as leader of the ruling Communist Party. He appeared in public in a new leadership lineup — which notably lacked a clear successor, calling into question the stability of China's leadership transitions.

The unveiling of the country's seven most powerful men was the political climax of the year in China. It followed the 19th Communist Party Congress, which handed Xi his second term and enshrined his theories in the party charter.

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