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Sunday 14 Aug 2022 | 17:29 | SYDNEY

China in perspective


Sam Roggeveen


4 March 2010 10:31

James Fallows recommends this Washington Post piece telling Americans to calm down when it comes to China:

This new Red Scare says a lot about America's collective psyche at this moment. A nation with a per capita income of $6,546 -- ensconced above Ukraine and below Namibia, according to the International Monetary Fund -- is putting the fear of God, or Mao, into our hearts.

To that cautionary note I would add the words of Thomas Barnett, writing about the 'princelings' (relatives of senior party officials) that dominate the management of China's top companies:

This is a great way to dominate an economy, but a crappy way to pick management talent. Why we should believe this inbred pool should outperform our ruthless market dynamics is beyond me. Such is our overblown crisis of confidence just because our quarter-century-long boom refused to extend itself further...Does that mean I predict state capitalism collapses? No. Means I simply don't buy the current hype of authoritarian capitalism's inexorably ascendancy. In fact, I find it a troublingly stupid trend among serious analysts.

Overwrought analysis of the 'China threat' is a pretty well established part of the American (and Australian) debate. Naive idealism about China becoming more democratic as it got richer is another strand, and certainly not the dominant one.

Photo by Flickr user Phil Romans, used under a Creative Commons license.