The indispensable Chinafile asked some of its authors to list what is going right in China, after many obvious stories about what is going wrong. Danwei-founder Jeremy Goldkorn submitted a pretty long list, and this is how it starts.
I’ll answer this question with an off-the-cuff and very personal list. Some may say these points are not actually good things, or that China isn’t actually doing these things well, or that the outcomes will not be copacetic. One of the very negative things about China is that if you look deep enough into any feel-good story, you’ll find something wrong or rotten, but this is a list of positives, so I won’t qualify my point with an acknowledgement of the counter arguments. Here goes:
– Continuing to lift millions and millions of people out of poverty (that’s the big one).
– A culture of hard work, thrift, and diligence that emphasizes the importance of education.
– The fapiao, a state-issued invoice system that is a work of genius which allows a massive more-or-less unregulated informal economy to thrive and still contribute taxes to the state.
– Investing in Africa, seeing developing countries as potential markets rather than basket cases.
– Dreaming big.
– Increasingly professional emergency response systems for bird flu scares, earthquakes etc.
Every upside has its downsides, and especially in China those downsides can be massive. The successful economic development has led to a massive shortage of sustainable energy. In September 2012 the China Weekly Hangout discussed energy security with Terry Cooke from the Wilson Center and Richard Brubaker of CEIBS.
This Thursday the China Weekly Hangout will discuss the changes in China’s labor force, especially the blue collar workers with Dee Lee, running since 2007 a workers’ hotline at Inno in Guangzhou. Expected is also economist Heleen Mees from New York. Moderation by Fons Tuinstra, president of the China Speakers Bureau. Our first announcement is here,and you can register for the hangout here.