As much as Chinese like to believe they are a rising superpower, they are still much behind the USA. While they are second in the world in total GDP, only behind the USA, their GDP per capita is 8x lower and GDP per capita is generally a good reflection of how developed a society is. In Asia, China is by far the dominant economy but they are 5th in GDP per capita, behind Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. Also Hong Kong if you want to consider that separate from China.
I also don’t think anyone would argue that the Chinese military is better than the American military, they are way behind on that as well.
In terms of technology, China is catching up on electronics (Lenovo and Huawei have been making gains on Apple and HP and Dell though the level of innovation is still behind), and is probably ahead on infrastructure (Chinese high speed rail and new buildings look far more impressive than American ones).
In terms of soft power or cultural exporting, they are behind pretty much all 4 East Asian Tigers + Japan, let alone trying to compete with Hollywood. While people around the world have heard of American movie stars and pop stars, and kpop has dominated the world as well, very few people outside of China (besides immigrant Chinese) really care about Chinese movies or bands. They have a long ways to catch up on that.
So yeah in order to catch up to the USA, here’s what Chairman Xi should do:
- Try to reduce the gap between rich and poor more, keep supporting the growing middle class and improving the GDP per capita
- Increase military spending to be more of a global force
- Emphasize cultural exports more and focus more on entertainment industry. This might be difficult though, since as a communist state, creative expression is a little difficult.