December 2014 – In Praise of China
|LEE CHANGCHUN, CENTER|
In the mood of Western Triumphalism, we frequently see our media assuming–or outright stating–that Communism in China is dead.
Nothing could be further from the truth. True, Deng persuaded enough of his fellows that, unless China modernized quickly it would be destroyed by the hostile West–and that the quickest path to modernization was through capitalism. But the whole idea was always to harness Capitalism to the country’s needs and to use it as a temporary crutch. The government was explicit about this when the policy of Opening Up was first proposed. It was equally explicit about the risks and costs of using capitalism: “When you open the windows, some flies and mosquitos get in”, was Deng’s warning. Among those insects, he explained, was a deterioration of equity and equitability, in a population that was probably the world’s most equitable at the time. So everyone embarked on the experiment with their eyes wide open.
CHINA’S ECONOMY: A PROGRESS REPORT
=&0=& Before 1949, more than 90% of the people in China lived in severe poverty, more than 80% were illiterate, the average lifespan was 35, few people owned land, and the risk of death from famine had been an annual threat for more than two thousand years. In fact, most rural Chinese were treated as if they were beasts of burden and not human. Today, about 13% live in severe poverty and those people mostly live in remote, rugged, difficult to reach areas of China. The lifespan is now about 73 years andHelen H. Wang writing for Forbes.com (February 2011) reported that China’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States and is expected to reach 800 million in fifteen years (2026). In addition, no one has died of famine since 1961.
By doing so China opened its books to an institution that is dominated by the USA and Europe.
The Bank predictably recommended that China follow America’s example, but the significance lies in the invitation itself. That the world’s fastest-growing, second-largest economy would subject itself to ‘foreign’ scrutiny and examination is remarkable. Let’s hope that the USA follows China’s example. Another of the Bank’s recommendations, that China avoid the “middle income trap” represents a remarkable misreading of China’s ambitions. Deng Xiaoping’s stated goal, reiterated by his successors, is a “moderately prosperous country” (小康; pinyin: xiǎokāng: a Confucian term describing a society of modest means) for two reasons:
- The planet’s resource limits will not afford more than that for an additional 1.3 billion people.
- It is un-Chinese, vulgar, and antithetical to the Tao.
When Deng launched the Opening Up reforms, he warned that “some flies get in when you open the windows” and that one of those ‘flies’ would be inequality. This, remember, was at a time when China had the best coefficient of equality–as measured by the GINI index–on earth.
CHINA: CURRENCY MANIPULATOR? NOT!
This delightful post was published in the blog Naked Capitalism. It is a “poetic translation” by Andrew Dittmer from dense Economese into English, of a paper by Claudio Brio and Piti Disyatat. Naked Capitalism is the most thoughtful, humorous, and diverse economics blog on the Internet and we recommend you subscribe. The paper enquires about accusations made by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that China caused the Financial Crisis because it saved too much money, creating an “imbalance”…
CHINA’S HUMAN RIGHTS
Strangely, this post is mostly about the United States, not China. It’s my belief that China’s human rights record is slightly better than the USA’s–though neither is a paragon of virtue– and that China has drawn ahead of the US since the death of Mao.
Most of the accusations against China are either total fabrications like the so-called Tiananmen “massacre” or gross distortions.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and a committed, right wing Capitalist. Here’s his take on this week’s “Human Rights Reports” from the US Government (Here’s China’s):
HOME OWNERSHIP IN CHINA
While our Western press finds (and manufactures) many negative stories about China, it manages to overlook almost all the positive developments there. The Chinese people, of course, do not make this mistake, and show overwhelming support for, and trust in, the CCP. Here’s an “overlooked elephant in the room” story that illustrates this fact:
It appears a miracle – as well as a challenge – that nearly 90 percent of Chinese families own their homes.
The People’s Bank of China and the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics released a joint report on Sunday on China’s family finance, which found that 89.68 percent of Chinese families own at least one home, compared to the world’s average rate of about 60 percent.
In a way, the report lends support to the argument that real individual demand for housing – not just business speculation and government reliance on selling land for fiscal revenue – has helped push up real estate prices in China. Indeed, too many young people and their parents make owning a house the very prerequisite for marriage.
CHINA IN AFRICA
“Where the U.S. sends soldiers, the Chinese build roads. Their approach [to soft power diplomacy] could not be farther apart.” – Military Affairs Journalist, David Axe
As with most things about China, there are many myths about its activities and intentions in Africa. This post will help you find sources that are more reliable than the hostile media of the former colonial powers that did so much to destroy Africa.
Then there’s an excellent article, below, from China Daily. But first, here are two sources of dedicated, ongoing information:
CHINA IN AFRICA: THE REAL STORY
By far the most authoritative source of solidly-researched information, by Deborah Brautigam, the Washington, DC–based Professor at American University, Int’l. Dev. Program, School of Int’l Service, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the author of The Dragon’s Gift
=&0=& =&1=& An increasing number of people in Western countries view China’s influence in a favorable light, according to a BBC World Service poll published on Friday. The percentage of people in the United Kingdom who view China’s influence as positive grew from 38 percent in 2011 to 57 percent in 2012. Similar increases were reported in Australia (43 to 61 percent), Canada (35 to 53 percent) and Germany (24 to 42 percent). In the United States, the percentage of people holding negative views of China dropped from 51 percent to 46 percent during the same period, and the number of people holding positive views of the country increased from 42 to 46 percent. Fifty percent of the people interviewed for the poll regard China as having a positive influence on the world, up 6 percentage points from 2011. The percentage of people who view China’s influence as positive has increased in each of the last three years. People from Africa, Asia and Latin American countries were more likely to have favorable opinions of China, while people in major Western countries tend to have negative opinions. The survey was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan, its research partners across the world and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland in the United States. A total of 24,090 people from 22 countries including the US, the UK, China and Egypt were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between Dec 6, 2011 and Feb 17. While favorable opinions of China have increased dramatically in Western countries, some of China’s neighbors and emerging countries still hold negative opinions on the country’s influence on the world. According to the poll, 64 percent of people in South Korea have a negative opinion of China, up 11 percentage points from 2011. One out of every two Japanese have negative views of the country, compared to just one out of 10 in 2011. The trend is similar in emerging countries such as Brazil, where the percentage of people with favorable opinions of China dropped from 55 to 48 percent, and Russia (52 to 46 percent). Read more…