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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Is the Party Over for China?

We keep reading that China is bound to slow down its growth, or reform, or tackle corruption, or float the yuan, or democratize, or what have you.  If you read the entertaining Gordon Chang, the China collapse will happen Any Day Now.  Did China's banks make too many bad loans?  That's entirely the point; that's the system they run. But here's a quote from a column by David Ignatius:
What's different now is partly that Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, the new Chinese president and prime minister, respectively, seem to mean business about puncturing the bubble economy. Stevenson-Yang quotes a 2013 warning from Li that reforming China's banks would be like "disarming land mines," because they had made so many questionable loans. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/04/11/in_china_warning_signs_122241.html
I heard former Ambassador Jon Huntsman at an OSAC conference describe Xi Jinping as "a reformer to his bones."  Will see. The country is, as Ignatius admits, "opaque."

If we are concerned about China from a security perspective--and the PLA keeps giving us and the Japanese reasons to be concerned--we should welcome this news.  Other low-wage countries in our allied rimlands will start picking up the slack.

As Edward Luttwak maintains in his recent book, the only real counter to China's rise is a rational geoeconomic strategy.  This would entail privileging our industrial base.  But our government is divided; the US Treasury under Mr. Geithner has been on a mission to promote China's growth. 
 
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