China: you said "economic miracle"?

Essay by e020315College, Undergraduate December 2002

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Throughout the Nineties, it has been said that the biggest Asian economic challenger against the US was China, not Japan. Japan had scared the Uncle Sam in the Eighties, but again, the slump it has been stuck into (financial and socio-economic crisis) for more than ten years couldn't be compared to the thriving Chinese take-off. We're indeed talking about a 1000 M US $ GDP gathered by about 1.3 billion people. The economic growth has reached an average of 8% over the past decade, which entails very good prospects. Or not. What I intend to do is to question the notion of miracle on two aspects: the explanation and the good side of it.

The conditions of the Chinese take-off were triggered with the death of Zhou En Lai and Mao Zedong, who had both kept the country's economy under the inhibiting rules of Communism. It has taken decades before finally, in 1992, the market socialism was validated by the party.

This long transition is remarkable -as opposed to the USSR- for it was economic oriented only. The Marxist infrastructure was indeed kept safe, with a unique party, the centralisation and control of information, the extent of red tape in everyday-life. Yet the modernisation of China is unquestionable, with for instance the development of cellular phones, Internet connections and as many shareholders as party members (70 million). This socio-economic modernisation was even crowned in 2001, during the Doha summit in Qatar, when China was ultimately accepted in WTO after years of harsh negotiations with the US and the UE.

However, the dark side of the Chinese model cannot be ignored. To begin with, we have to bear in mind the control of information as regards economic statistics. According to the American scholar T.G. Rawski, the Chinese have made great...