This article introduces a special issue on globalization ‘with Chinese characteristics’, but also makes its own contribution to the debates. It does so by focusing on the implications of China's rise for the nature and consequences of globalization as a distinct formation. It argues that globalization needs to be understood, in part, as the externalization of particular national forms of capitalism in particular historical periods. In this context, it explores the Chinese form in some detail, arguing that this form is likely to provide much of the initial character of a new, emergent version of globalization now in train. The ways China (and other ‘rising powers’) are beginning to impact other parts of the developing world presages the need for a new approach to the analysis of ‘development’. This article is critical of traditional discourses, and argues that innovation around the concept of ‘transformation’, including a focus on ‘conjunctures of critical transformation’, may lead to more appropriate and adequate analyses of development and open up those analyses more effectively to ‘non-Western’ voices. The authors discuss the ‘vectors’ by which China's externalization is transforming the developing world. They mobilize arguments from the other articles in the special issue, in order both to introduce their contributions to the relevant debates and to use their arguments as materials for the particular contribution this article provides.