China in Perspective

Nov 20, 2003Nov 21, 2003
B-339 Rayburn House Office Building


Session One: Thursday, November 20, 2003
Carol Lee Hamrin 
Research Fellow
Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University

Click Here to listen to audio archive.

Session Two: Friday, November 21, 2003
Chris Lingle 
Visiting Professor
Francisco Marroquin University, Guatamala

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Napoleon once referred to China as the "Sleeping Dragon,” and he advised European leaders from his era that they would be better off to let it sleep. Today, however, this “dragon” is no longer sleeping, and those who ignore the dynamic changes taking place in China will quickly find themselves behind the times.

Over the last few decades, China has abandoned its Maoist economic planning model in favor of giving its citizens a direct stake in the economy through privatization and shareholding. As a result the images of starving peasants suffering under the "Great Leap Forward" have been replaced by an emerging middle class, homeowners, and spreading commerce.

Life, however, is far from perfect in the Middle Kingdom. Some economists estimate that corruption in China could cost it up to 14% of its potential GDP, and the Government in Beijing has not developed many of the institutions needed to cope with this problem. Other factors - such as the unreliable nature of China's official economic statistics, single party rule, and a heavily censored media - further complicate matters. With problems like these, many wonder if China can develop the institutions necessary to sustain its development.

Although policy discussions in Washington often focus on China's exchange rate, trade surplus, or human rights record, the long-term path to prosperity lies in China's ability to develop the necessary social institutions that promote transparency and accountability in its government enterprises