This study examines the nature and consequences of China's rise to the center of world economic affairs through manufacturing-led development. Our historical analysis shows that China is still well short of the point in its developmental process where its growth might be reasonably expected to slow, or the energy, resource and carbon intensity of growth to recede. The study argues that the current trajectory of industrialization will have to be altered when China becomes more actively engaged in dealing with structural issues at home and abroad against the background of the unwinding of global imbalances. One profitable strategy that China might employ would be to approximate the incredibly fruitful mass-market integration efforts of the USA that eventually elevated it to its position of global primacy. The cyclical re-emergence of excess capacity in Chinese heavy industry, serious questions about the medium term ability of other major regions to accommodate further large gains in Chinese market share, and the stark conflict between the contemporary style of industrial development and the health of the biosphere indicate strongly that now is the time to catalyze the required adjustment and reform processes that will underpin sustainable long-run prosperity.