Thursday, December 24, 2009
The third act of New China begins as a world financial crisis reveals the deep flaws of global neoliberal capitalism and as a diminishing fossil fuel supply and rising global temperatures escalate the competition for resources.
Meanwhile, China is in the midst of the largest project of industrialization and urbanization in human history, one that requires massive amounts of capital and fossil fuel.
It's like watching a jeep race up a mountain road as an avalanche begins to cascade downward from above.
And China happens to be a country where the elites hold tremendous power. Indeed, they seem to have seamlessly melded Leninist vanguardism with American-style best-and-brightest meritocracy:
There is no formal social contract
there does seem to be an implicit one
8 to10 percent annual GDP growth
24 million new jobs a year
chance to win the capitalist lottery of sending your son or daughter off to a prestigious school
life of industrialized luxury
you don't question the legitimacy
of the CPC
As recently as 2007, there were 80,000 protests a year in China,
The most potent issue is corruption,
moment of global contraction. Exports make up 35 percent of Chinese GDP; in the past year they fell by 25 percent. There are 6 million recent college graduates
a job fair, where the ratio of attendees to jobs was 7.5 to 1.
The foremost difficulty is immigration. In English we'd call it "migration,"
"They can be migrant workers forever,"
You have a class of people in this limbo."
This marginal population freaks out the Chinese authorities
they desperately wish to avoid the experience of so many other developing countries, from Brazil to India, which have seen the growth of massive, ungovernable miserable slums in their largest cities.
so-called Latin American trap during the urbanization process,"
villagers came to the cities and they couldn't find a job
migrant underclass of uneducated children
is an outcome the government decided to avoid.
Atop the urban-rural divide is a stark class divide as well.
Peasants are the original Chinese revolutionary class,
In 2007 per capita net income for China's approximately 800 million farmers was just $50 a month.
flow and settlement of people from country to town
explosive source of social tensions
a High Modernist faith in progress brought about by "scientific" planning
provide up to 4 percent of China's electricity (the equivalent of about 500 coal-fired power plants). In order to build it, 1.25 million people were forced out of their homes on the banks of the Yangzte, and 1,500 archaeological sites, including ancient temples, were drowned.
To the Chinese elites
the future is everything
Such intense futurism
seems the only worldview one could hold on to in the face of the challenges
Pick any major city in America and start adding 500,000 people a year
It is no small thing to design a sewer system for a city growing at that pace. Just ask the 10 million residents of Mumbai's slums, whose lives are literally mired in shit
The Chinese affection for urban planning is closely connected to their belief in the virtues of economic planning
The fable we are told about China, particularly by neoliberals, who hold it up as a model of how capitalism has delivered millions from poverty, is that the market reforms have produced growth and prosperity by throwing off the shackles of state intervention. It's a deeply incomplete story: the commanding heights of the economy (telecom, energy, transportation and, most important, finance) remain in state control. There are four major state-owned banks in China, which together have an 80 percent market share.
Planning of the sort undertaken by the central government is viewed in the United States as a disastrous and discredited anachronism
the largely government-run financial sector has protected China not only from the ravages of the financial crisis
but also the kind of massive misallocation of capital
that the global financial system
has produced in the West
over the past ten years.
"This has been discussed by Internet users in China who say when Obama comes to China that he can discuss with Hu Jintao about the importance of plans.
making sure growth is maintained and unemployment doesn't spike
the central government passed a 4 trillion RMB stimulus program (70 percent of its annual budget), the state-owned banks flooded the economy with investment capital and state-owned enterprises were directed not to lay anyone off.
all of the growth China experienced this year almost certainly came from state-led investment.
Weighed down by the collapse of American consumption and the worst global recession since China began its reforms, the state was able to drag the economy over the 8 percent finish line
an open question whether it can replicate this feat next year, should global demand continue to be depressed.
the corporatist behemoth that is the Chinese economy is intimidating to behold
lack of a social safety net
helps produce the high savings rate that most economists say stands as the single biggest obstacle to making the necessary transition to an economy driven more by domestic consumption (not to mention basic justice and security for hundreds of millions of people).
This is connected to the much deeper problem of distribution, which presents economic and political challenges, although those two categories bear a strange, sometimes mysterious relationship to each other. "We do worry about equality,"
"We do need to focus on distribution, allocation of rights, taxes, hospitals, healthcare."
issue of distribution with other Chinese officials
caution that achieving a more equal society will take time.
Deng Xiaoping's exhortation
"Let some people get rich first."
The question is, Just how many is "some," how rich is "rich," and how long does "first" last?
improving rural healthcare
ending taxes on farmers
a labor law with a minimum wage
overtime and other protections
the project of
justice and social welfare proceeds much more slowly.
"Let's look at our neighboring Asian countries,"
"South Korea: its peak developing speed was reached using military rule.
Indonesia was successful during the reign of Suharto but recently it faces stalemate and difficulties."
democracy is an obstacle to economic progress, Xu said, is that "the poor people want to divide the property of the rich people
If we Chinese copied the directly elected
Someone will say, 'I will divide the property of the rich people to poor people,' and he will be elected.
parity will not solve the problem of economic development
we are taking a gradual and step-by-step approach in reform. As Mr. Deng said, we will cross the river by touching the stones. We will not get ourselves drowned, and we will cross the river."
no one else discussed politics so frankly. In China, economics stands in for politics as the substance of public debate and conversation.
You cannot call for elections or for a free Tibet, but you can publish heated polemics about the government's decisions to continue to purchase US treasury bonds.
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 9:04 PM