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China and Globalization

How has China shaped — and changed — the global economic landscape?

September 27, 2005

How has China shaped — and changed — the global economic landscape?

China, more than any other country, currently occupies the minds of people from fields from manufacturing to security to law. No matter the issue in the international arena, China leads most people’s list of both the most dynamic and most concerning country in the world. In our Read My Lips feature, we look at the consequences of China’s rapid economic emergence.

Why China?

“The most important thing happening in the world today is the rise of China.”
(Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, December 2003)

What is so peculiar about China?

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness — and some have greatness thrust upon them. China falls into all three categories.”
(Martin Wolf, Financial Times columnist, November 2003)

What is the key question concerning China?

“Is China a giant low-wage magnet drawing jobs and investment from elsewhere? Or is it a powerful locomotive, whose development needs will pull everyone else along?”
(Bob Samuelson, Newsweek columnist, January 2004)

How dependent is the world on China's economy?

“When China accelerates, the world follows. When China slows down — the world will hurt.”
(Dong Tao, chief regional economist at Credit Suisse First Boston in Hong Kong, November 2003)

Does China's economic development repeat history?

“China’s labor force is streaming from farms to cities, as it did during England’s first industrial revolution — only this time the agricultural workforce is larger than the population of Europe.”
(Gordon Redding, director of the Euro-Asian Center at Insead, August 2003)

What will contribute most to China's continued competitiveness?

“China can compete for the next 50 years on labor costs.”
(Arthur Kroeber, China Economic Quarterly managing editor, December 2003)

Yet, should we easily buy into China's success story?

“If you have any credibility, you would probably be rating everything junk in China.”
(Scott Kennedy, assistant professor at Indiana University specializing in China’s political economy, January 2004)

What is a good example of this weakness?

“I spent five years hunting for examples of successful high-tech companies in China. After all that work, I can only find three or four.”
(Ming Zeng, professor at Insead and at Cheung Kong Business School, December 2003)

How does the government view political reforms?

“Political restructuring in China aims at integrating the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the people’s role as masters of their own affairs and rule of law in the conduct of public affairs.”
(Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, November 2003)

Why does the communist regime depend on continued market reforms?

“The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government derive most of their legitimacy from the nation’s robust economy.”
(Orville Schell, U.S. China expert, May 2003)

What is one result of China's economic reforms?

“Modern communist China is a 19th century industrial capitalist’s dream.”
(E.M. Swift, Time Asia correspondent, July 2003)

What made foreign investment difficult during the early stages of China’s economic reforms?

“In the beginning, we didn’t have any phones. I am not talking about mobile phones, but regular telephones. We had to use walkie-talkies to call Hong Kong.”
(Sy To, owner of Kam Po Watch Industrial, September 2003)

What long-term perspective do some economists take?

“The Chinese are producers now — and they will become mass market consumers, but only after a long lag.”
(Stephen S. Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, December 2003)

How does Beijing view increased Asian integration?

“There seems little doubt anymore what China’s intentions are toward its Asian neighbors. It wants to weave a close-knit economic and security community with Beijing at the center.”
(Michael Vatikiotis, editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review, November 2003)

Does China see itself as a laggard in this integration?

“If you look at the world today, you see Europe with its integration having grown for many years now. And you look at North America and NAFTA. Look at Southeast Asia — we still lack this.”
(Yang Jian, political counselor at China’s U.S. embassy, November 2003)

Have Chinese immigrants to the United States been impressed with what they experienced?

“America is no paradise. It was the same routine every day for six or seven years. Get up. Work for 16 hours. Go to bed. Get up again. I was a fool — a machine.”
(Illegal Chinese immigrant, September 2003)

Why do many return to China?

“We talk about the American dream. Well, I realized my American dreams. Maybe it’s time to look for another dream. I call it my Chinese dream.”
(Charles Jin, former Microsoft project leader, June 2003)

And finally, how can China change the Internet as we know it?

“Before the end of the decade, China’s 1.3 billion citizens will make Chinese the most-used language on the Internet.”
(Major General Vivat Visanuvimo, member of Thailand’s national security council, February 2004)