China may overtake the U.S. economy sooner than expected.

Can China Become the World’s Engine for Growth?


Former Deputy Defense Minister, Taiwan, and Professor, Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, Tamkang University in Taipei.

Since the end of the 1990s, China’s economy has continued to outperform pessimistic forecasts. Several factors favoring the country’s resilient growth have been under-appreciated. First, for an expanding economy, China’s is the largest in scale in human history. Rules in textbooks based on past observations of comparatively smaller economies do not apply. For example, while the global financial crisis in late 2008 hit China’s export-oriented coastal provinces, the inland provinces were hardly affected by the economic downturn of the outside world. The latter then worked as a cushion for the slowdown of China’s economy which began to rebound by mid-2009.

Second, Chinese leadership stresses learning which enables it to face most economic challenges head-on with timely preventive measures or ultimately effective policies. Since 2002, the Chinese Communist Party Politburo—the twenty-five most powerful persons in China—has taken group classes monthly from leading scholars in the nation on an array of policy-related subjects, half of which have been economic in nature. Eighty percent of the lecturers studied abroad. No top leaders in other major powers today are so dedicated to study so as to be aware of the most up-to-date tools for problem-solving.

Third, China’s contribution to the world’s GDP today is less than 10 percent, but it was 30 percent during the Ming Dynasty around the fourteenth century. Given the historical perspective, the country has more economic potentials yet to be realized.

Fourth, China’s capitalist-oriented authoritarian government unhindered by parliamentarian procedure seems increasingly more capable of steering the country economically than wealthy democracies. Lastly, China is auspiciously located in a region which just began its robust economic growth in recent decades and most likely will continue to prosper in the foreseeable future.

Freshly christened the world’s second-largest economy, China may become the first sooner than expected earlier.

Josph Y Lin's point of view:       
A quick back-of-the-envolop count by "categories" (positive, negative, hedged, advisory) is pretty widely/evenly split. 16 hold "positive" views, 15 hold "negative" views, 9 "hedge" their positions, while 12 come across as "advisory". Interstingly 4 out of 5 Japanese are negative (one positive probably "has to" due to his ADB position).

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