Twofish's Blog

July 15, 2007

So what is a rising superpower supposed to look like?

Filed under: china, economics — twofish @ 3:01 pm

Question I asked at “China Law Blog”

Let me ask the question “What is a rising superpower *supposed* to look like?” If China is “strange” what is the “norm”?  Since there is one superpower in the world, we can look at the history of the United States, and looking at US history, China looks much less “strange.”

The reason I tend to be optimistic about China is that if you take every single problem that China has, it sounds a lot like the United States in 1890.  Environmental degradation.  Poor food.  Social class divisions.  Sweatshops.  Etc. Etc.  Even the corrupt, authoritarian governments were typical of the United States in the 1890’s (at the national level you had a two party system, but most state and local governments were one-party states in the hands of a corrupt political machines.  Try being a Republican in Mississippi in 1890, and heaven help you if your skin had a high melanlin content.)

The other reason I’m optimistic is that China has IMHO already done the hard part which was to convert a completely dysfunctional centrally planned economy and turn it into a partially functional market driven one.



  1. I don’t disagree, but it still is a mighty strange place for those of us living here in the US. One of the things I am always saying though is that China is not unique in that it very much reminds me of Korea 20 years ago and Russia 5 years ago.

    Comment by China Law Blog — July 16, 2007 @ 3:32 am

  2. You may find the following book useful.

    Barry Naughton, “The Chinese Economy: Transition and Growth”, MIT Press, 2007.

    Available (pdf file, free to download):

    Longtime reader/admirer of your blog. Keep sharing with us your thoughts on events in Greater China arena.

    Comment by anonymous — July 18, 2007 @ 1:16 am

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