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How important is China, really?

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Stability in the yuan's exchange rate is one key to how the world might handle China's slower economic growth.   © Reuters

The Chinese mainland is in a tough spot. And the world is feeling the pain. In the first two weeks of 2016, tumbling Chinese equities and a volatile currency knocked the wind out of global financial markets. The worry is that China's economic slowdown and a weaker yuan could harm growth the world over. The mainland economy, after all, is now the world's second largest after three decades of stellar growth.

     China has nearly single-handedly driven the global commodities boom over the past decade, lifting incomes from Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. With its economy now slowing, raw material prices are coming back down to earth, a plunge exacerbated by the downturn in once rampant mining investment.

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