As I had noted in my previous blog entry, I traveled to China earlier this month. I spent a little more than two weeks there. The trip was both remarkable and enriching.

Beijing provides a kind of sketch that illustrates the extraordinary progress China has made in its economic development in recent decades. The expansive city is filled with testaments to that progress. Sprawling commercial districts can be found around its historic and political centers. The city's subway lines have been greatly expanded and WiFi access is available throughout the subway system, as well as on buses and taxis. Seemingly everyone has a smartphone and everyone—not just Teens or 20-somethings--is texting. Traffic jams that far exceed those found in and around the greater New York City Metropolitan Area are an almost daily occurrence. Upscale shopping malls have proliferated and consumer choice has expanded at an explosive rate.

Aside from its providing a glimpse of today and perhaps a hint of tomorrow, Beijing offers a rich window into China's past. The city’s Imperial sites are filled with distinctive architecture, exquisitely detailed engravings, and wonderful murals. Processions of glazed ceramic figures at the top of old structures depicting a man riding a phoenix followed by mythical beasts, with a dragon at the end of the parade are a recurring theme. Those processions can be found in the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and even on the Great Wall’s watchtowers.

The Imperial sites provide examples of the depth and greatness of early Chinese civilization. They also affirm the staying power of those qualities, as the time scale involved is not in years or decades, but centuries and even millennia. The contrast between early Chinese architecture and modern-day glass edifices of all kinds illustrates the dynamism that coexists with China's heritage.

Present day China appears to be on the cusp of the often challenging and sometimes treacherous transition between rapid economic development and economic maturity. Such transitions have often witnessed a crisis or two, as institutions cope to adapt to the changing environment. Whether one is dealing with the 19th century U.S. or far more recent Asian financial crisis that temporarily tamed the economies of “Asia’s Tigers,” examples of crises can be found in the historical record of countries that made that transition.

As far as China is concerned, its past suggests that there is little reason that China cannot inevitably make that transition. China’s lengthy historical narrative is filled with accounts of its overcoming adversity time and again. Perhaps reflecting on those frequent turns in China’s long history, Confucius once observed, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Even if China stumbles at some point in its transition, one very likely can expect China to rise again to its feet and resume its journey forward.

China's history is also a tale of perseverance. Perhaps more than anything, its Great Wall provides the strongest argument that persistence over enormous periods of time can lead to remarkable accomplishments. The work that culminated in its completion spanned numerous Dynasties and centuries. It is unmatched in its length by any other manmade structure, past or present.

Considering China’s past greatness, as evidenced through its numerous historical sites, one cannot help but come away with the notion that China’s return to a globally significant stature is not a matter of the kind of random chance that escaped almost all of history’s past empires. Instead, one is left with the impression that China's return to such a role is seemingly the natural and inevitable outcome of an ever evolving history that remembers its roots, leverages persistence, and offers a remarkable capacity to overcome adversity.