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Yes, a certain perspective is in order

“It’s entirely true that China’s economic growth rate has fallen to the lowest levels in 28 years, back to the dreadful stagnation of 1990, when China was only growing at 4 percent or so. That’s more than the U.S. is growing even in the middle of the Trump boom. We’d all kill for a gross domestic product growth rate as high as what China calls low. This is not, though, a commentary on how bad our own economic policy is, nor really one on how good China’s is today. Rather, it’s one on how terrible, appalling, and truly awful China’s economy used to be.”

Tim Worstall, writing in the Washington Examiner.

It is indeed worth noting, in these times of trade protectionism worries, concerns about Chinese building of runways and facilities in the South China Sea, its surveillance state apparatus, and so on, to step back and reflect on just how far that nation has come since the mass murdering rule of Mao. Tens of millions died from war and Man-made famines and dislocations during the “Great Leap Forward” and the “Cultural Revolution”. These are grim realities that, by the way, appear not to be as well known among Western-educated folk as they should be. It does not do any harm, and might even give us all a bit of calm, to realise that what has happened in China, with all caveats thrown in, is infinitely better than what happened before. The rise of a large middle class in China is, or should be, a positive force in the world.

12 comments to Yes, a certain perspective is in order

  • Runcie Balspune

    Tens of millions died from war and Man-made famines and dislocations during the “Great Leap Forward” and the “Cultural Revolution”.

    The worst is yet to come, the one-child policy and other social engineering projects will have generational effects, and not for the better.

    What should be exposed is the folly of placing important decisions into the hands of a few entitled individuals, especially if those few are unaccountable, can wield absolute power to silence their critics, and the decision could affect the lives of huge numbers of people. Getting it right is great, but getting it wrong spells mass misery, and getting it wrong again and again is what Mao did.

    The leftist view, with their social justice, state managed economics and other implementations of “common purpose”, are emulating exactly the conditions for the same mistakes to be made. It is an underlying protocol among the left that certain individuals are entitled because they are morally right, and that the unworthy should be swept aside, thus creating the circumstances for a Mao-like extortion of the population.

  • bob sykes

    Deng was the greatest statesman and most successful politician of the 20th Century. He laid the foundation for Chinese domination in the 21st Century.

    6.6% annual growth is nearly three times America’s growth rate, and that is on an economic base that is larger than America’s (PPP GDP).

    Instead of Deng, we have Merkel and May and Pelosi (the actual President of the US).

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    “The worst is yet to come, the one-child policy and other social engineering projects will have generational effects, and not for the better.”

    If you are referring to the murders (of actual kids) and abortions of recent years, then that adds to the death toll. But unless something terrible happens – and I cannot rule that out – it is hard to see a repeat of Mao-style multi-million slaughter.

    Bob Sykes talks about Chinese domination. Well if Runcie’s point about one-child policy is true, it is hard to dominate the world if you haven’t got any kids. China, as the article is saying, came off a shockingly low base; the US is in a different position. What bothers me about the US is that interest on its huge public debt is about the same as what it spends on defence.

  • Runcie Balspune

    it is hard to dominate the world if you haven’t got any kids

    There’s also the 30 million males who don’t have a partner, in a traditional family society that means millions of kids who wont get procreated due to the imbalance, and not forgetting the subsidiary effect of women putting off having children if they no longer need to compete for men in an oversupplied market.

    The dominance of women is fast becoming a major issue in China’s patriarchal society, lack of available females has led to forced prostitution or trafficking becoming a growing problem and these two issues are going to cause huge societal upheavals, a low economic growth rate is going to be the last thing they need to worry about, this could make to pro-democracy protests look like a birthday party.

    The Chinese government has a stranglehold on immigration and emigration, with 30 million men looking for partners elsewhere this is going to become a flash point very soon.

  • Bob Sykes writes:

    6.6% annual growth is nearly three times America’s growth rate, and that is on an economic base that is larger than America’s (PPP GDP).

    I think it is never (well perhaps just extremely rarely) a good argument to compare economic growth between emerging economies and leading economies.

    Emerging economies can and do get their high growth largely from copying, in the right order, what leading economies have already done.

    Leading economies get their growth from extending human knowledge and exploiting that in their economies to raise living standards. Creating either of those things (mostly technology and new process) takes more time than copying it.

    Best regards

  • bobby b

    ” . . . Pelosi (the actual President of the US).”

    Her base is going to be pissed when they figure out how she’s been packing the courts with young conservative judges!

    (“As of January 17, 2019 [update], the United States Senate has confirmed 85 Article III judges nominated by President Trump, including 2 Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, 30 judges for the United States Courts of Appeals, 53 judges for the United States District Courts, and 0 judges for the United States Court of International Trade.”)

    They’ll be beyond pissed when they also realize she’s been shrinking the regulatory state, lowering taxes, approving long-stalled pipelines, taking us out of TPP, restructuring NAFTA, cutting aid to the Palestinian mob, settling down the rocket-launching North Korea, and cancelling Obama’s Iran fiasco.

    They probably won’t mind her taking credit for the booming economy, the lowered jobless rates, and beginning the exit from Syria, though.

    (Get real. All she can do with her House is stop things. Trump can still do things. Give him a few weeks. Every time we get “This is it! The end of Trump!“, he ends up getting his way.)

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Runcie, the imbalance is indeed going to be an issue, but bear in mind also that without a pensions safety net and the rest, any serious drop in Chinese GDP growth (assuming one accepts official, er, Chinese data) is going to be a problem. Maybe I am being too optimistic, or just pushing against the Eyeore tendencies that I tend to see so much these days, in just not buying the “Chinese are taking over the world and it’s all terrible and what can be done?” sort of analysis. Not so long ago, people said the same, pretty much, about Japan. How’d that work out?

  • APL

    China doesn’t have an economic boom, it has a property speculation bubble.

  • CaptDMO

    In the US, I could get 2% for a 2 year, US$25,000 Certificate of Deposit at nearby banks.
    The big problem seems to be finding folks with an “extra” $25,000, OR to loan to the bank for 2 years, OR for 2%.
    I blame global warming, higher education, OH…. AND El Nino!

  • Paul Marks

    Who knows what the real economic statistics are in China – I suspect that “President” Xi himself does not know (after all lower level officials are punished if they produce even “elite eyes only” figures that give bad news).

    But one thing we do know.

    Since the 1970s we have been told that economic reform will lead to POLITICAL reform in China – after 40 years it is clear that this theory is Bovine Excrement.

    The People’s Republic of China, after 40 years of economic reform, is just a much more powerful ENEMY – it is still an ENEMY. It now has vastly higher capacity to DO HARM – to expand into new lands and seas and declare them “always part of China”, and that is exactly what it is doing.

    So President Trump may be wrong in economic theory to put taxes on imports from China – but in national security terms he is quite correct. The policy of encouraging the rise of China has been 40 years of madness – and for the West to depend on China in industrial term, is suicidal.

  • Julie near Chicago

    I’m afraid I think you’re right, Paul. :>(

  • Runcie Balspune

    or just pushing against the Eyeore tendencies

    No, that is Shinzo Abe (!)

    The gender imbalance is the problem, no-one in the Chinese government cares about old people, but the imbalance can only be addressed by immigration and/or emigration, lest a sudden shortage of workers, the last stranglehold the government has.

    In days past China used to hire out its workforce, now it needs to outsource it.