Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

China's Deeply Flawed Ascent

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

China's Deeply Flawed Ascent

Article excerpt

China produces an astonishing number of astonishing numbers, including this: In the 20th century, America made automobiles mass- consumption items, requiring prodigious road building. China, however, poured more concrete for roads and other construction between 2011 and 2013 than America did in the 20th century. This fact is emblematic of China's remarkable success. And is related to its current difficulties, including its 2015 growth rate (6.9 percent), its slowest in 25 years.

The regime's contract with its 1.4 billion subjects is that it will deliver prosperity and they will be obedient. Now the bill is coming due for the measures taken to produce prosperity.

In 1978, when Deng Xiaoping began the regime's attempt to leaven Leninism with market reforms, half of the Chinese lived on less than $1 a day. In just six years, collective agriculture almost disappeared and grain production increased 34 percent, freeing people to move from the countryside to more productive urban employment.

No Westerner knows more about China's regime and political economy than Henry Paulson who, as CEO of Goldman Sachs, then U.S. treasury secretary and subsequently, has made more than 100 trips to China. In his book "Dealing With China," he writes: "China consumes almost half the world's cement, coal, iron ore and steel, and 40 percent of the aluminum and copper. Beijing has six ring roads and the seventh, under construction, will be almost 600 miles long, encompassing an area as large as Indiana. (Washington, D.C.'s beltway is 64 miles long.) Demand for roads so exceeds supply that a 2010 traffic jam extended 62 miles and lasted 12 days. China has six of the world's 15 tallest buildings (America has three) and eight of the 10 tallest under construction."

China's prosperity has been fueled by the traditional modernization trek of people from the countryside to cities -- 300 million so far, with another 300 million by 2030. But China also has relied perilously on exports and excessive, grossly inefficient infrastructure spending to employ the former peasants and make burgeoning metropolises habitable. …

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