when you're No. 2, you try your best to catch up with the No.1, everything is improved quickly with your hard efforts. while the person in the first position maybe just in the unenterprising spirit which provides others to surpass him. however, when the No.2 person becomes No. 1, he will soon find the same problem. the lack of a rival will make a person lose his passion, and being the No. 1 will easily be the target of others. everyone watches you. whatever you do, you'll be criticied.
the Forbes article compared the US and China and concluded that "China tried hard, and it blossomed and was subsequently thrust under the spotlight. Now, because it finds it impossible to avoid criticism no matter what it does, it has to try even harder."
It is an irrelevant fact that China is the globally No. 2 so long as she alleviates the poverty in the country and protects the sovereignity of the nation from external intruding forces. These are more important priorities than be just the globally No.1 or No.2. position, which, incidentally is of no consequence to the well being of her citizens or the prosperity of the country.