The People’s Republic After 60

Dan Drezner links to himself* contemplating the future of China:

I belong to the third camp—the one that believes that the Bubblers and the Extrapolators can both be right. My camp looks at China and sees the parallels with America’s rise to global economic greatness during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. From an outsider’s vantage point, America looked like a machine that could take immigrants and raw materials and spit out manufactured goods at will. By 1890, the U.S. economy was the largest and most productive in the world. As any student of American history knows, however, these were hardly tranquil times for the United States. Immigration begat ethnic tensions in urban areas. The shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy led to fierce and occasionally violent battles between laborers, farmers, and owners of capital. With an immature financial sector, recession and depressions racked the American economy for decades.

I have to agree with Professor Drezner on this one. For all the talk about China’s emergence as a global power, you’d expect the country to be a perfect “harmonious” society. In reality, China is pretty tumultuous, full of ethnic tension, uneven economic growth and shifting societal norms. One of the many reasons I’m glad China’s economic growth is still so high is I’m terrified to see what would happen without improving economic conditions.

*In a way I’m doing this too. I’m the first comment. I really do recommend China: Fragile Superpower. Check it out


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