Arrrgh. I normally think BusinessWeek sucks, but they are rocking today. Here's a short article that - leave the typical BW hype aside - is a great sort of grass-roots introduction to why China is such a potent economic force.
When you read this, remember that they are protecting their currency - keeping it cheap - so that when (if) the yuan floats, most people expect it to become more expensive. Note that this a now-classic strategy of emerging economies, so please don't think I am making a moral judgment - I'm trying to point it's strategic value.