Skip to comments.The End of China Envy? (Spare us the feverish delusions about the glories of the “Beijing Model.”)
Posted on 04/28/2012 4:38:36 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
China-envying New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman likes to muse about how wonderful it would be if the United States could be like China for a day.
The scandal engulfing former rising star Bo Xilai, the cashiered Communist Party boss of the city of Chongqing, suggests how this magical day might go down.
A popular governor who rose to prominence based on his anti-corruption campaign while illicitly enriching himself would fall from grace. His wife would be accused of murdering a foreign businessman. His security chief, whom he relied upon to run an extensive spying operation on potential foes, would seek asylum at a foreign consulate, fearing for his life. State and federal security forces would have a standoff outside the consulate. The entire nation would become obsessed with the case, but the government would prevent anyone from searching the Internet for information about it. Everyone would assume that the government would control the political fallout by arranging a nice show trial for the disgraced governor.
Such would be the joys of China-for-a-Day, according to the Bo Xilai script. The Bo affair doesnt truly tell us anything new about China. But the lurid details the body of the allegedly murdered British businessman cremated without an autopsy; Bos privileged son partying as a student at Oxford and Harvard might jolt some China-enviers out of their feverish delusions about the glories of the Beijing Model.
Its not just Thomas Friedman. Andy Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled Chinas Superior Economic Model. He cited Bo and his people-oriented development in Chongqing as one of the impressive assets of Team China. The book What the U.S. Can Learn From China appeared earlier this year. (It asks, among other things, How does the Chinese political system avoid partisan rancor, but achieve genuine political accountability?) President Barack Obama has used Chinas public investments as a prod for adopting similar policies at home and said longingly of one of Chinas technological advances, That used to be us.
The Bo scandal shows the Chinese system to be as thoroughly rotten as one would expect of a kleptocratic police state. What is unusual is only that it wasnt kept under wraps. The country is run by a small number of Mafia-style families jostling with one another for power and profits. Chinas power brokers are quasi-feudal lords with networks of cronies grasping all that they can. The sisters of Gu Kailai, Bos wife, controlled a $126 million network of international businesses, according to Bloomberg News. They got rich on the families-and-friends program.
If Chinas economic rise has been something to behold during the past three decades, it is not a tribute to the technocratic proficiency of Chinas rulers. In Chinas mixed system, it is the genuinely private companies that are more economically efficient. The World Bank writes, A recent study shows that between 1978 and 2007 total factor productivity growth (a measure of efficiency improvements) in the state sector was a third that of the private sector, which has proved to be the more powerful engine of growth and innovation.
Chinas economic miracle may well stall out before we get the opportunity to emulate its supposed wonders. China cant convert agricultural workers into manufacturing workers and suppress domestic consumption in the cause of creating an export-driven juggernaut forever. The World Bank report recommends that China move to the next stage of development by reforming and restructuring state enterprises and banks, developing the private sector, promoting competition, and deepening reforms in the land, labor, and financial markets. In other words, it should learn from the U.S.
The existence of China envy is a testament to the allure of 9 percent GDP growth coupled with a few fashionable policies like support for high-speed rail and solar energy. On this basis, Friedman calls Chinas rulers a reasonably enlightened group of people. Their spectacular repression, greed, and Sopranos-like power struggles notwithstanding.
Rich Lowry is editor of National Review.
The only “Beijing Model” I know of is stealing other country’s properties and technology and claiming it as their own.
I've been to China...a couple of times...recently.From what I saw (I certainly didn't see the whole country,just a small part of it) we do NOT want to be like China for a day...for about a billion different reasons.OTOH,we may well be wise to model ourselves after Hong Kong.Very low taxes,industrious people,very little government interference.A truly amazing place.
BTW how do you like my "porn stash"... don't laugh it's a style that's coming back. You thought the days of disco and Marx were over? Bwahahahhahahahaha!
Like my "furrowed brow" look?
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