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Paul Krugman: China's Leaders Have No Idea What They Are Doing China’s economic structure is built around the presumption of very rapid growth. Enterprises, many of them state-owned, hoard their earnings rather than return them to the public, which has stunted family incomes; at the same time, individual savings are high, in part because the social safety net is weak, so families accumulate cash just in case. As a result, Chinese spending is lopsided, with very high rates of investment but a very low share of consumer demand in gross domestic product.

What China needs are reforms that spread the purchasing power — and it has, to be fair, been making efforts in that direction. But by all accounts these efforts have fallen short. For example, it has introduced what is supposed to be a national health care system, but in practice many workers fall through the cracks.

Meanwhile, China’s leaders appear to be terrified — probably for political reasons — by the prospect of even a brief recession. So they’ve been pumping up demand by, in effect, force-feeding the system with credit, including fostering a stock market boom. Such measures can work for a while, and all might have been well if the big reforms were moving fast enough. But they aren’t, and the result is a bubble that wants to burst.

When China Rules When China rules, what will the world be like? Will Beijing govern as a global hegemon or be one among other great powers? Western capitals and their media often warn us about China’s rise, though hardly mention the dangers of the West's decline. When China rules, will the world be a safer place?CrossTalking with James Bradley, Martin McCauley, and Scott Kennedy.

"Relations between Japan and China have plunged to their lowest point in more than a decade after a weekend of violent anti-Japanese protests in Beijing and other cities.

"In the biggest demonstration in the Chinese capital since 1999 at least 5,000 people joined a rally last Saturday in support of a boycott of Japanese goods. They kicked Japanese cars and stoned the embassy...

""We must show the Japanese pigs how we feel," said a Mr. Liu, an IT engineer in his 30s...

Tokyo has demanded an apology, compensation and a promise that it would not happen again.

"The march was spurred by Japan's approval of a new history textbook that whitewashes its wartime atrocities, including the forced recruitment of thousands of sex slaves and biological weapons experiments on civilians" (Jonathan Watts. "Chinese Urge Japan Boycott." Guardian Weekly, April 15-21, 2005: 9).


"...an old-fashioned campaign to restore party discipline by President Hu Jintao, who has confounded hopes that he would be a Chinese Garbochev. Instead he has adopted a leadership style that appears to owe much to Mao Zedong.

"Over the next two years every party member will have to take part in re-education sessions for at least six months... the first time since the cultural revolution the lessons are compulsory for cadres of every level...

"...in economics Hu and his prime minister, Wen Jiabao, have pursued a "people first" policy of wealth redistribution that marks a shift from the "growth at all costs" priority of his market-oriented predecessor, Jiang Zemin...

"The manufacturing hubs of Guangdong and Zhejiang could once be sure of attracting peasant workers no matter how low the wages or how poor the conditions, but more farmers now can afford to stay at home and tend the land...

"Hu's government has been even tougher than its predecessor in restricting public freedom of expression...

"An undeclared war appears to be under way against dissident intellectuals. Reform advocates have been put under house arrest or sacked...

"...for now Beijing still looks like an old-fashioned dictatorship. "Huism" appears more nationalistic, centrally controlled and undemocratic than anything China has seen for two decades" (Jonathan Watts. "'New Mao' Turns His Back To the Future." Guardian Weekly, April 15-21, 2005: 10).


"China has opposed Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the UN security council, saying it is unfit for such leadership until it faces up to its past. In addition old animosities were rekindled after Japan's education ministry approved textbooks that critics say whitewash the history of Japanese aggression in the region...

"...anti-Japanese sentiment has soard in China and in South Korea...

"In March tensions between Tokyo and Seoul grew after Japan restated an old territorial claim to a group of small islands occupied by South Korea. The claim stoked bad feelings connected with Japan's occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945" (Anthony Faiola. "Japan suffers bombardment from cyberspace." Guardian Weekly, May 26, 2005: 22).


Acid rain on increse in China. More of China's cities are suffering from acid rain and its big rivers and lakes are heavily polluted, the government said in a report that highlighted the environmental costs of surging economic growth" ("The Roundup." Guardian Weekly, June 10, 2005: 2).


Beijing... behind the glitz there's growing disenchantment with relentless market reforms that have shrunk social services and thrown at least 20 million people out of work... the rallying cry of a group known as China's New Left...

"..the majority of New Left intellectuals are moderates who recognize that old Communist dogma lies discredited, and who simply want to rein in the excesses of China's market reforms. Their main complaint is that China's export-led growth strategy skews society and allows the fruits of reform to be harvested by urban residents and by government and Communist Party officials...

""This is now an unjust society," says Lu She Zhong... "Public anger over illegal demolitions, withheld pensions and corruption led to more than 50,000 protests in 2003, seven times the number from a decade before...

"President Hu Jintao and his team are tacitly supporting the New Left...

"New Left intellectuals are also challenging what Cui calls the growing "nexus between corrupt politicians, bankers and businessmen who in the name of reform are looting China...

"At the core of the New Left's policy recommendations is a focus on what they call the San Nong (or Three Nongs): issues concerning the plight of the Nong Min (peasants), Nong Ye (agriculture) and Nong Cun (rural communities)...

"Cui says that focusing on the San Nong will allow China to make the transition from an economy based on foreign direct investment to one based on organic growth and driven by domestic investment, which will raise local salaries and standards of living.

"New Left thinkers... leading the government to soften some of its earlier policies... Financial support to farmers has also increased, and now fewer migrate to cities looking for work as daily wage earners. That's shrinking China's pool of cheap labor and upsetting factory owners. But championing such causes and arguing in favor of development that is "less GDP-focused and more people-focused" is what the New Left sees as its immediate role, says Cui...

"President Hu, who took over from Jiang two years ago, has brought a different tone to decision-making in Beijing. His government has said it will look beyond GDP growth to address such issues as environmental decay, regional inequality and unemployment" (Jehangir S. Pocha. "China's New Left." The Nation, May 9, 2005: 22-24).


"China will bar new foreign television channels and step up censorship of imported programmes, the culture ministry announced, adding to efforts to tighten the government's control over popular culture...

"Beijing will also ban new licences for companies to import newspapers and magazines, electronic publications, audiovisual products and children's cartoons, the ministry said. New limits will be imposed on the number of foreign copyrighted products Chinese companies are allowed to publish...

"The measures are a step back from more liberal rules announced late last year to open China's media market" (Joe McDonald. "China bans new foreign channels." Guardian Weekly, Aug. 12, 2005: 9).


"Beijing bows to pressure from US but Asian exporters may reap greater benefit...

"China made its biggest monetary shift in more than a decade last week by revaluing the yuan and dropping the currency's peg to the dollar...

"In the short term the small scale of the revaluation--which took the dollar exchange rate down from 8.28 yuan to 8.11 yuan--will make little difference to global trade imbalances. The euro, by comparison, has risen 40% against the dollar in the past three years. But analysts said it was a breakthrough that would lead to a gradual appreciation of the Chinese currency--also known as the renminbi (RMB)" (Jonathan Watts. "China finally revalues yuan." Guardian Weekly, Aug.4, 2005: 25).


Colby Glass, MLIS