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A more varied picture of China

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Financial Times, with its Western capitalist view comments:

G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh
Image by International Monetary Fund via Flickr

For all the cosmopolitan affluence of Beijing or Shanghai, with their luxury shopping malls and Champagne-soaked gallery openings, it is easy to forget just how poor China still is. One of the more surprising statistics about the Chinese economy is that, in terms of per capita gross domestic product, it is still not in the top 100 countries. According to the International Monetary Fund, China ranked behind Cape Verde and Armenia in 2008, and only just ahead of Iraq and the Republic of Congo. Despite the remarkable reduction in poverty, daily life for most Chinese families is still a struggle to get by.

Then there is this comment about the raw effects of internal political turmoil caused by dissatisfaction of the Uighurs:

The Xinjiang riots over the summer were another important warning. Like the turmoil in Tibet the year before, they exposed how large parts of the local population on China’s western frontier does not feel included in the new economic dynamism, or feel part the grand national project. By treating almost all dissent as a form of “evil separatism”, these provinces seem destined to face years of instability.

The writer of this piece, who is FT’s Beijing Bureau chief, finally gets to his real point in the last paragraphs:

Given the abundant evidence of purpose and planning, from the building site that wakes me in the morning to the almost weekly billion-dollar energy deals in far-flung parts of the world, this might seem like a strange thing to say about modern China: but it sometimes feels as if the people at the top are running short of ideas.

It is tempting to chart China’s rise like a graph of its GDP, 9 per cent up every year, without fail. Better to expect quite a few big bumps on the road to “China’s century”.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/09/26 at 15:22

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