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Moving Forward to Avoid 'Stable and Backward'

(2012-11-15 18:36:35)
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财经

摘要和感谢:我不知道《财新》把我的《十八大以后政府必须烧的三把火(1)》翻译成为英文。今天,我的媒体顾问,克里斯-噢布良先生,转来这篇文章,我认为翻译的非常到位,在西方媒体一定会有影响,现在转载如下。对年轻的大学生和学者应该有所帮助和启发,尤其是其中的英文表达非常到位。

http://english.caixin.com/2012-11-09/100458495.html

Moving Forward to Avoid 'Stable and Backward'

Adam Smith's label for China's of the 18th and 19th centuries could be applicable again if the government fails to heed its people.

By Yao Shujie

 

Moving Forward to Avoid Stable and Backward - 姚树洁 - 姚树洁的博客

      Soon there will be a new generation of Chinese leaders. The world's media are all highly attentive to the coming changes and the policy direction of these new leaders. I'd like to share my personal views, focused on the domestic issues such as the economy and the government.

I believe the focus of the new government must be people's livelihood, clean governance and the environment protection.

Indisputably over the past ten years, under the leadership of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, the country has seen the most astonishing economic growth. The biggest catalyst for this rapid rise was its joining the WTO at the end of 2001. Catapulted by this, the country was able to be fully integrated into the world economic system, and see its inherent demographic and talent advantages flourish.

From 2001 to 2011, per capita GDP grew from less than US$ 1,000 to US$ 5,500, and total GDP has grown from US$ 1.3 trillion to US$ 7.5 trillion.

With an average annual growth rate of 20 percent, China has become the world's largest exporter and was the second-largest trading nation in 2010. By the end of 2011 it had foreign exchange reserves of US$ 3.2 trillion, accounting for one-third of the total world reserves and three times that of the second-largest forex reserve, those of Japan.

Meanwhile, the country also ranked as the world's No. 1 producer of more than 220 kinds of major industrial and agricultural products. Among the major industrial products, such as computers and mobile phones, China accounts for more than a 70 percent share of world production. In other words, by now, consumers around the world depend on China to turn out these products. 

This rapid economic development is based on the high-speed development of education, science and technology. The country has continuously increased spending on research and development, rising over the past decade from less than 1 percent of GDP to 1.8 percent.

The enrollment rate for higher education has risen from 5 percent in 1996 to 23 percent in 2011. The millions of university and postgraduate students each year are the main force in changing the structure of human capital and are an important guarantee of further development.

At the same time as this fast development, a variety of voices critical of the government have been heard, especially from the Chinese people themselves, coming one after another. Why is that?

Polarization among the people, corruption and pollution have become the country's three biggest curses – and the biggest threat to stability and sustainable development.

The individual complaints and discontent are a demonstration of people's lack of social well-being. The government should not ignore such sentiments. Since the goal of development is the happiness of the people, when the public lacks a sense of well-being, the government must reflect.

It is not so much about why people are grumbling and dissatisfied, since their income has increased and they enjoy better educations, but about the real roots of the discontent.

The reasons are very simple. People are unhappy not because their income has decreased or their living standards have fallen, but because they feel that the increase in their living standards and income are not proportional to the efforts they have put in. Meanwhile, a minority of people enjoy multiplying incomes far beyond ordinary folk's imagination. In other words, a widening wealth divide is what makes the public feel unhappy and discontented, in relative terms.

People's second source of discontent is that more and more government officials enjoy more and more privileges, and the phenomenon has been legalized. Without institutional reform, bureaucratization and hostility between the government and the people will become a certainty.
 
Worst of all is the increasingly rampant corruption. In the past decade, not only has corruption not been effectively restrained, but it actually has proliferated. For instance, a sub-division level urban management official in Guangdong Province who was caught recently owns as many as 22 apartments. Certain high-ranking officials involved in corruption are alleged to have colossal sums, not in millions of yuan, but in billions of U.S. dollars.

In the past five years alone, some 670,000 officials have been investigated by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's anti-corruption watchdog.

Where do these astronomical sums of money come from? The stock market and the housing market.

Money in the stock market is hollowed out. Who did it? Who causes housing prices to soar? Ordinary people, even if they work hard all their lives without more than the basic food and drink, still cannot afford to buy a small apartment of 50 square meters? With China's nearly 2,500 listed companies, bank profits exceed the profits of all other companies. And the profits of the two largest state-owned enterprises exceed the total of the top 500 private enterprises.

The monopoly of state-run enterprises and corruption exist at the expense of the interests of the people. Meanwhile, the high investment and export-led economic growth model faces unprecedented challenges, relying on cheap labor and the exploitation of natural resources.

One can't turn the clock back. We can't deny what China has achieved in the past decade. But the problems and challenges accumulated over the past ten years can't be overlooked either. Denying the performance is unfair and would be in bad conscience, whereas ignoring the problems will not solve the issues or prevent the country from falling into the so-called middle income trap.

Adam Smith criticized 18th and 19th century China in saying it had fallen into a "stable and backward" status. If China does not resolve its current problems, it will fall into another such state.

This is why China's new leadership must continue opening up to the future, and carry forward the good while overcoming the problems in a timely manner.

The author is head of School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham 

Moving <wbr>Forward <wbr>to <wbr>Avoid <wbr>'Stable <wbr>and <wbr>Backward'

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