Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Henry Paulson on China

This morning while walking, I heard an interview with the controversial Henry Paulson. He was Secretary of the Treasury and head of Goldman Sachs. He has done a lot of business and with China. He is selling his new book. He makes the standard argument that economic development will lead to a more open, more democratic society and to greater competition for the USA.

His analysis sounded reasonable. I was going to recommend it, but radio interviews are usually difficult to use. Then Lindsay Marshall posted a link to an interview at Quartz at an AP Government Teachers Facebook page. I reposed it to the AP Comparative Facebook page and now here.

From Horses To High-Rises: An Insider 'Unmasks' China's Economic Rise
Eventually, China will likely surpass the U.S. and become the largest economy in the world, Paulson says. "But it's also a country with monumental challenges. There's as much danger in overemphasizing China's strength as in underestimating its potential."

In his new book… Paulson describes some of the major challenges China faces as its people become richer…

Both publicly and privately, China's president — Xi Jinping — is very direct about his own views on this topic, and his colleagues' views.

"They don't aspire to have a Western-style, multiple-party democracy," Paulson says. "They don't aspire to have Western values. Jinping believes that the future of the country, the stability, is dependent on a strong Chinese Communist Party.

"I feel quite strongly that won't work long term," Paulson says. As more people prosper, they'll demand information and rights…

"The Chinese leadership over time has been pretty pragmatic… "

Hank Paulson on the Chinese economy, Xi Jinping, and what Americans don’t get about China
For the last two decades, China’s rise could be explained in a string of cliches: explosive growth, strong one-party rule, and fledgling diplomatic clout. This era of simplicity is over now. The economy is slowing, and while cronyism is eroding the Communist Party’s authority, the country wields ever-more clout abroad.

China’s handling of these new complexities bears huge consequences for the rest of the world…

What are the biggest challenges currently confronting China?

The biggest challenges are rebooting the economy—its economic model is running out of steam—coming up with a new urbanization model, curbing corruption, working to curb pollution, dealing with food security issues, property reform, and income disparity, which is creating social distress.

To do all this, the vehicle Xi is using is a party that’s rife with corruption. And he’s doing this all without the modern institutions you need to govern a society like this—without a legal system, without a rule of law…

This is a leader who has really consolidated power quicker than anyone since Deng [Xiaoping… And he seems to be the most ideological leader since Mao. I’m not sure that is something that many outsiders would have suspected. He’s also very direct in being clear that he is not aspiring to transform China into having a Western-style, multiparty democracy, or Western values…

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