Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, March 23, 2009

Comparative advantage

The Economist reports that Chinese leaders are feeling this is the time to press its advantage on the world stage. The writers also offer some insight into the politics of China.

China and the West: A time for muscle-flexing

"The government, however, does not want China to be roiled by the same debate that is plaguing Western governments over how to handle the crisis. This month’s annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, was convened for only nine days instead of the usual two weeks. Although even the official media wanted more details of spending plans, the government-set agenda was strikingly sparse. The parliamentary chairman, Wu Bangguo, used the occasion to launch a lengthy tirade against Western-style democracy. “Leadership by the Party can only be strengthened and in no way weakened,” he told the delegates. For Mr Wu to get so worked up, serious voices must have been suggesting otherwise.

"But few new details of the stimulus measures were revealed at the congress. The government airily said that details of a separate massive spending programme on health-care reform (850 billion yuan over three years) would be finalised only after the parliamentary session...

"On March 13th, at the end of the parliamentary session, Mr Wen said that to counter the crisis China “would rather speed up reforms”. He said it should “give full play to market forces in allocating resources” and encourage the development of the private sector. It must also, he said, carry on with political reforms in order to “guarantee people’s freedom and rights”. But the economic crisis will not have increased officials’ appetite for change. Many will be all the more convinced that the government’s big role in the economy (not least its ownership of the banks) and the country’s one-party system (where else could a government announce such big spending plans without time-wasting debate?) are a help, not a hindrance.

"It is more likely that, as the crisis deepens, the government will become increasingly cautious in its approach to domestic policy..."

What You Need to Know -- a study guide for AP Comparative Government and Politics

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