Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 09:01 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 09:01 | SYDNEY

More on China\ choices


Sam Roggeveen


21 January 2011 12:05

Above, Shanghai 1990 vs Shanghai 2010. (H/t TDW.)

Thanks to Kien Choong for his intervention. We've debated industry policy previously on The Interpreter (as Kien knows), and as a result, I have come around a little.

But that's not the argument I intended to provoke. In retrospect, what really bugged me about the Fukuyama column I cited in my earlier post is the judgment he makes about China's economic policy-making as compared to other countries. The headline for the column is 'US democracy has little to teach China'. Fukuyama writes:

China adapts quickly, making difficult decisions and implementing them effectively. Americans pride themselves on constitutional checks and balances, based on a political culture that distrusts centralised government. This system has ensured individual liberty and a vibrant private sector, but it has now become polarised and ideologically rigid. At present it shows little appetite for dealing with the long-term fiscal challenges the US faces. Democracy in America may have an inherent legitimacy that the Chinese system lacks, but it will not be much of a model to anyone if the government is divided against itself and cannot govern.

I have concerns about US political gridlock too, but America's problems are smaller than those of China, and in my view, the US clearly has better institutions to deal with them. Given China is only three decades into its economic modernisation, is poor by US standards and faces tremendous challenges, I think Fukuyama has made a rush to judgment. And I see I'm not the only one.