How the west should judge a rising China
By Martin Wolf
Today’s advanced countries, dominated by the US and Europe, have a preponderant share of the global economy. The 14 per cent of humanity that lives in advanced countries generates 60 per cent of world output at market prices and 41 per cent at purchasing power parity.
This will not last: as recently as 1990, advanced countries generated 78 per cent of world output at market prices and 64 per cent at purchasing power parity. The west must accept its relative decline or engage in a grossly immoral and probably ruinous struggle to prevent it. That is the most important truth of our era.
For this reason, above all, westerners need to consider how those in the rising powers view the world. It is likely that China, in particular, will emerge as by far the world’s biggest economy. We need to evaluate and assess the views of those who lead it. Two weeks ago, I presented what I heard in high-level meetings in Beijing. Now, I will assess what I heard, under the same headings.
China needs strong central rule
A noteworthy fact was the belief of our interlocutors that Chinese political stability is fragile. History suggests that they are right. The past two centuries have seen many man-made disasters, from the Taiping Rebellion of the 19th century to the Great Leap Forward and cultural revolution.
It is quite easy therefore to understand why members of the elite seem convinced that renewal of the Communist party, under the control of Xi Jinping, is essential. We must recall that the upheaval of modernisation and urbanisation through which China is now going, destabilised Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Yet this tightening of control could derail the economy or generate a political explosion in a country containing an ever more literate, interconnected and prosperous people. China wishes to be a huge Singapore. Can it?
Western models are discredited
The Chinese elite is right: they are, alas. The dominant view among the rest used to be that the west was interventionist, selfish and hypocritical, but competent. After the financial crisis and the rise of populism, the ability of the west to run its economic and political systems well has come into doubt. For those who believe in democracy and the market economy as expressions of individual freedom, these failures are distressing. They can only be dealt with by reforms. Unfortunately, what the west is getting instead is unproductive rage.
China does not want to run the world
On this point, we can express doubts. For the first time, China will become a great power within a global civilisation. Like all great powers before it, China will surely wish to arrange the global order and the behaviour of other states (and private organisations, too) to its liking. China also has many neighbours, many of them historically allied to the US. It is already trying to expand its influence, notably in the South China Sea. It is also trying to influence behaviour, not least of all Chinese students, abroad. All this represents the inevitable extension of Chinese power abroad.
China is under attack by the US
The Chinese elite is right that Americans increasingly regard their country as a rival, indeed a threat. Americans, in turn, argue that China is attacking them, by extending its military power and undermining allies, notably Japan.
The truth is that power is inevitably a zero-sum game. The rise of Chinese power will be seen as a threat by the US, whatever China’s intentions may be.
Moreover, many Americans, indeed many westerners, do not really accept Chinese positions on Tibet and Taiwan, are suspicious of China’s intentions and resent its success. Such mutual mistrust opens the so-called Thucydides trap of suspicion between incumbent and rising powers.
US goals in trade talks are incomprehensible
China is right: they are ridiculous. But within them are genuinely important issues, notably intellectual property.
China will survive these attacks
This is almost certainly true. Unless the US breaks all its commitments and seeks to impose an economic embargo on China, the current friction will not halt Chinese progress, although it may slow it. A greater threat to China would lie in the domestic reaction to a far more hostile external environment. The likely response would be yet tighter political and economic control, rather than the needed shift towards a more market-oriented, more private-sector-led and more consumption-driven economy.
This will be a testing year
It will. In fact, it will be a testing century. The right view for the west to take is that China is indeed a significant competitor. Its rise will create many dilemmas for the west and especially for the US. But China is also an essential partner in ensuring a reasonably co-operative, stable, prosperous and peaceful world.
The west needs to think much harder about how such a world should work. The US administration’s view — that the unilateral exercise of US power is all that is needed — will fail. It will not manage the global commons that way, not that the Trump administration cares about that, at all. It will also not achieve stability: if it doubts that, it should look at the cauldron that the Middle East has become after endless interventions.
It is essential for westerners to realise that our biggest enemy has become our inability to run our own countries well. Meanwhile, the only future for an interdependent world has to be based on mutual respect and multilateral co-operation. This does not mean accepting every Chinese demand as legitimate. Far from it. Principled resistance is essential. But we are moving from a western-dominated past to a post-western future. We have to make the best of it.
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ShamusOclayklee 8 minutes ago @William Thayer Sr You make the assumption that western governments care about their unskilled workers, obviously in the US that is not the case. Trade with China has been a boon for the profit margins of US corporates and has also significantly reduced consumer goods prices for those who remain employed. Clearly, It's not trade that is the issue its the mismanagement of the distributional impacts it presents. There have been many western countries that have 'won' from trade with China, Germany being the most notable example. Clearly the American brand of capitalism only works for a few. ReportShareRecommendReply Richard 47 minutes ago I'm worried about US power today, not China's rising power. ReportShare3RecommendReply schoenflies 1 hour ago also, the west, and the US in particular must be careful about alienating Chinese people in general. if you look at who dominates STEM, it ain't white americans. it's chinese. china would love nothing more than to reverse their brain drain. all in all, the west needs to get over its narcissistic infantile conception of itself if it wants to prosper in the post-western world ReportShareRecommendReply schoenflies 1 hour ago well, china's going to be japan but the size of china under their traditional system of government. they were the largest share of world GDP (along with India) for most of human history, so I don't really get the whole "revisionist" argument when individual chinese dynasties have lasted longer than the US (and some western nation states) have been a country ReportShareRecommendReply Joseph D 2 hours ago I am afraid Mr Wolf is ignoring the totalitarian implications for the world at large of a rising China under the control of a Communist dictatorship. The CCP sees the imposition of its party line on the rest of the world as critical to maintenance of its control domestically. China cannot indefinitely continue to rise without more and more interaction of its citizens with the rest of the world. Yet this exposes the Chinese to different political and social systems whose narratives run counter to the one dictated to the Chinese by their party “betters”. This is leading the Chinese communists to try to impose their party line globally. The CCP is using Chinese economic power to suppress any opinions expressed OUTSIDE China that conflict with the party’s line. This is as serious threat to our liberties as the Russian government’s disinformation campaign. It must be resisted. It’s that simple. There is no moral equivalence between China under the control of communists and western democracies. ReportShare5RecommendReply Charles Shillingburg 2 hours ago @Joseph D China is really a Fascist dictatorship and should be treated as such. World domination everyone. ReportShare1RecommendReply schoenflies 1 hour ago @Joseph D just admit it, you're anti-china ReportShare4RecommendReply Mozart 3 hours ago It’s one thing to go from $100 per person GDP to $1000. Its more difficult to go from $1000 to $10,000 which China did during the past 30+ years. To double that again may be possible under the current regime given the heavy investment in education. By then, China will face the formidable middle income trap. To move from $20,000 to advanced level GDP, education and political will is not enough. You need institutions to support that- independent courts, low levels of corruption, secure property rights, vigorous political debate and a free press. None of these conditions are present in China . Just witness how few nations got rich after Europe and it’s most successful clones (US, Canada, Australia/NZ) cracked the code. Japan was the first non western nation to industrialize and to this date, by far the largest country to do so. They were followed by a few small countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan plus a few oil exporters which had none of the prerequisites but lots of oil. Once the oil is gone, they regress. Latin America had several stabs at becoming rich, but always fell back into old ways - coups, corruption, populism. They are the region of the future and always will be. Same for the rest of the developing world. I see China as a middle income country but not a member of the rich club anytime soon unless they radically change their institutions. Just look at what rich Chinese do. They try to bring their riches to, you guessed it. The West. Capital flight is a huge problem in countries such as China. besides, where are all the resources to come from to support a western lifestyle for billions of now poor to moderately rich people? The water? Food rich in meats and fish? we already consume far more than the planet can sustainably supply. ReportShare4RecommendReply schoenflies 1 hour ago @Mozart yes, that's why China was 33% of world GDP, the largest population and largest land based empire in ISOLATION before western powers came in and turned it into a basket case ReportShare1RecommendReply Mozart 51 minutes ago @schoenflies @Mozart That was centuries ago when everybody in the world was equally poor with a sliver of the population having some wealth. Most people then worked the land and trade was mostly local. Now we have an entirely different economy. Sure, the West messed up a lot, but somebody had to be the top dog. There has always been one and you cannot blame all the problems in the world on the West. At some point, you have to set aside history and start pulling yourself up. China did just that. ReportShareRecommendReply Yilan 20 minutes ago @Mozart Even if China's per capita GDP is just $20,000 it is enough to overthrow the United States as the world's sole economic superpower due to China's sheer population size. Unless a major technological breakthrough occurs anything above that is unlikely, as the earth's resources are finite and China simply has too many mouths to feed. Smaller countries such as Finland or South Korea can just grab on to specific sectors, and that will be enough to sustain them as developed countries, China can't. On the other hand, as China's technology continues to progress, firms in the developed countries, such as TSMC or Qualcomm, will be hurt as their market share are taken away by rising Chinese firms, and some of them may go bankrupt, possibly making the per capita GDP of these countries decrease. ReportShareRecommendReply gobingo 3 hours ago I would agree to everything the author said, if the time is pre-2017. Since 2017, when millions of Chinese overseas and billions of them in China have heard the revelations from a dissident and exiled billionaire Miles Kwok (Guo Wengui), their views about China, or precisely CCP, have completely changed. That is an ambitious and evil party which is penetrating the world by so-called BYG strategy, and eventually wants to turn the world into THEIR color. Unfortunately, most famous scholars have NOT got it, cause they don't use twitter or YouTube, they don't know the current of the ocean is the real power that changes the atmosphere, and where that current in China is flowing right now. And of course, I can bet, they still couldn't figure out why Trump won against Hillary. ReportShareRecommendReply Anton 3 hours ago Only one way to go about it #AussieRules https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/12/business/dealbook/australia-china-ausgrid-nsw-sydney.html ReportShareRecommendReply rgp 3 hours ago There is a generational shattering of deep cultural mores in China. This is happening in the US as better educated and more individualistic youth go around their older sisters and brothers. The populist phenomena is increasingly viewed as orchestrated kindergarten over fifty losers. Look for greater reform of democratic institution after a hopefully bloodless change. ReportShareRecommendReply Tacitus 3 hours ago Any attempt to answer the question of what the West (to give a short label to the combination of the United States, the EU, Japan, and their respective adherents) should do vis-à-vis China -- even that of a thoughtful commentator such as Martin Wolf -- is vain if it does not consider what the ultimate goal of the exercise should be. We cannot, and no one can, simply accept that in a world of unregenerate nation states China will become the largest and richest by a factor of three -- because unregenerate nation states sooner or later become aggressors against one another, meaning that lopsided Chinese size and wealth will ultimately lead to a Chinese bid for world domination. Successful or unsuccessful, such a bid would be a catastrophe. Instead, we must have as an ultimate goal the reform of the nation state in China, in the West, and throughout the world. Then the relative size of China will be no more a threat to the world than the relative size of California is to the United States. ReportShareRecommendReply Marksman 3 hours ago With billions in abject literal poverty without a democratic voice and a corrupt elite who can't spend enough in Western boutiques - watch them at Heathrow going into make £10k purchases of handbags and watches in 5 minutes - I suggest that 'principled resistance ' is definitely needed rather than talking down the western system of democracy that for all its failings clearly represents the best system of government. ReportShare3RecommendReply William Thayer Sr 3 hours ago Martin Wolf sounds like the Neville Chamberlain of economics. What we need is a Churchill of economics. Communist China has to appreciate Wolf's pep talk. The West is going down. China is going up. The reality is that some people (not Wolf or Zoellick) are realizing that exporting so many jobs from the US and and EU to China has been a mistake. Part of the idea behind this was to get entry to the Chinese market, but that has been less than successful (e.g., Google forced out, Facebook forced out etc.). Communist China mandated that all companies coming to China must bring their technology (which they will then copy). If smart people in the West put the welfare of western workers first and demand a level playing field in trade, I think both sides will prosper (but it will mean less prosperity for Communist China). Communist China has also been borrowing like crazy and this bubble is going to pop at some point. ReportShare5RecommendReply schoenflies 1 hour ago @William Thayer Sr you make the assumption that jobs are zero-sum. it's not. you also make the assumption that tech transfer is zero sum. it's not. the anxiety disorder experienced by the west that raped china for centuries is funny to watch, but also sad as it shows the moral bankruptcy inherent in your culture ReportShareRecommendReply Occamthebat 4 hours ago The are enough problems faced by us all on this planet. They should be negotiating on how to solve them, instead of denying their reality (as do too many in the US). ReportShareRecommendReply Also an ex 4 hours ago I lived in Shanghai , I now live in Chicago. I can tell you which city is better organised, has better infrastructure, is leading on technology AI and innovation , is more creative and generally is moving faster ...its not Chicago. The rise of China and the decline of the west is happening at break neck speed and a lot of people are not aware of just how far China has come and not aware of the pace of this change ReportShare12RecommendReply PP 4 hours ago "After the financial crisis and the rise of populism, the ability of the west to run its economic and political systems well has come into doubt." There are good arguments for the opposite. It is exactly democracy that makes revolutions bloodless, quick and checked by various balances of power. The fact that some don't like the various populist movements is not a problem for democracy, as long as the populists don't manage to shut democracy itself. On the financial crisis: Financial crises are a permanent feature of market economy, but transparency of democratic governance makes it much more likely that we get the regulation on the markets right. A lot has happened in the regulation of banking since the crisis. Just wait for the big one coming from China. ReportShare1RecommendReply Elephana Boultenhopp 5 hours ago "It is essential for westerners to realise that our biggest enemy has become our inability to run our own countries well." Ahem, for the best example of this, look to Westminster and Brexit. ReportShare12RecommendReply User_7955 6 hours ago Is the real problem China's success - or is it the West's decline? ReportShare1RecommendReply peter astbury 5 hours ago @User_7955 Its muddle - bad actually for everybody ReportShare1RecommendReply Steagall 6 hours ago Not so quick to declare Chinese victory in the economic competition. Technology, AI and innovation not population per se are likely to determine future economic success. The West still leads in all of these. Isn’t the nut of the current trade negotiations about stopping Chinese appropriation of Western innovation? I do think that’s part of having a level playing field, which in principle is the right thing to do. ReportShare4RecommendReply Burr 6 hours ago @Steagall Well said! ReportShare1RecommendReply Bubble 6 hours ago "Advanced countries are hobbled by their inability to manage their own affairs" So true. Just look at Brexit. ReportShare4RecommendReply Revenant 6 hours ago “After the financial crisis and the rise of populism, the ability of the west to run its economic and political systems well has come into doubt.” Yet the Chinese swing towards authoritarianism is also the symptom of the same problem. In addition Chinese elites may have a much more frightful view of dissent. Its moves regionally, internal ethnic problems, bubbles, excess debt, and incredible pollution should inspire realism in their mindset. We’ll see if a more authoritarian government is a cure out because such forms of rule have such great track record. We’ll see of the Chinese swing to it is not caused by the same symptoms that is causing such a swing in the US and some nations in the EU. The US and some aspects of Europe are painfully disfunctional but I would not put democracy per se at the heart of those problems. See Jared Diamond’s Collapse for a more thoughtful set of criteria for cultural success or failure. ReportShare3RecommendReply Adrian Costain 6 hours ago MW is correct to assert the Western model (at least in the UK) is increasingly discredited, in the eyes of the public. In fact MW's name came up in a New City Agenda session at the House of Commons this morning exploring how best to reign in the continuing market power abuses of the big banks. It seems there is a genuine concern amongst SMEs and a significant proportion of the wider public, that the British Judicial system is entirely in thrall to the banks. A tribunal system of dispute resolution is mooted as the civil way to overcome the massive resource asymmetries. Continuous innovation and development of our civil society governance mechanisms is surely a must if our Western Systems are to continue to enjoy the confidence and support of the people - indeed, else the mantle of 'advanced nation' is a complete misnomer. ReportShare1RecommendReply Fail Safe 6 hours ago Looking forward to Part 2: how China should judge a declining UK ReportShareRecommendReply Fedupwiththelies 6 hours ago Not necessary. Even before its decision to quit Europe, the UK was of minor interest to China, it will become totally irrelevant afterwards. ReportShare3RecommendReply peter astbury 6 hours ago @"This does not mean accepting every Chinese demand as legitimate. Far from it. Principled resistance is essential" What does this mean?. ReportShare1RecommendReply Joseph Belbruno 6 hours ago @ peter - It means, “Fly the white flag”. It means defeatism and surrender to the dictates of a repugnant Dictatorship that Wolf knows all too well must be and will be defeated. It means, the cowardly prostration of Neville Chamberlain before Hitler’s Nazi Dictatorship all over again. It means Martin Wolf has lost his marbles... ReportShare4RecommendReply Chris886 6 hours ago @peter astbury It means stand up and express opposition where needed, but don't be a bonehead that starts from the default position China = Bad. Simples. ReportShare2RecommendReply peter astbury 5 hours ago @Chris886 @peter astbury Sounds to me like he is saying that West has no interests except its principles ReportShareRecommendReply 2 replies Stargazer 6 hours ago There are also two major considerations: Firstly the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the management of state affairs. It is not inconceivable in the next 50 years computers can not just replace the bureaucracy, but leadership roles as well. China's centralised power structure makes the country well placed to take advantage of emerging AI capabilities, while democratic politicians, their constituencies and special interest groups are loathe to give away their powers of influence to a bunch of computers they don't understand. Twenty years ago most people thought that self-driving cars were technologically impossible, so we should not discount future advances especially if an AI arms race develops between China and the US. Secondly the role of a rising India will not just challenge the Chinese, but also the Americans as well. India is also on a path of growth and in time will also eclipse the United States both in wealth and power. This means that in any security and economic relationship between India and the US, India will sooner or later become the dominant power, with the US playing an increasingly subservient role. Will the Americans accept being relegated to third place and lose the status symbol of being the shining beacon of democracy, and end up being told what to do by the world's most populous democratic power? Can you imagine future Indian leaders playing the role of the Bush just before the Iraq war, and future American leaders playing the role of Tony Blair? Or will this create more tensions between the two democracies, with future American governments declaring economic war on India in order to desperately preserve their position of privilege? ReportShare1RecommendReply Joseph Belbruno 6 hours ago @ Stargazer - An appropriate pseudonym! You are well and truly gazing at the firmament. But remember Oscar Wilde: “We’re all in the gutter (with Martin Wolf, how uncomfortable), but some of us are looking at the stars!” ReportShare1RecommendReply coolhead 5 hours ago It is somewhat delusional to think that Indians can shape even regional order (let alone world order) on their own. Their best interests lie in aligning themselves with Americans, Japanese and other like-minded democracies. Chinese have always considered them as a key hurdle in their imperial ambitions and will do everything to marginalise them even in their own backyard. As things stand, they will need all the help they can get if they are to maintain their relevance in the face of an increasingly belligerent China. Modi might as well start sucking up to Trump like he did with Obama. ReportShareRecommendReply Jake in Seoul 6 hours ago Mr. Wolf might well spend some time in South Korea and learn how a well-run country that understands China all too well is treated. He might also spend more time in Singapore and Taiwan and note the vast gulf in openness and popular consent that separates these Chinese states from the PRC. ReportShare5RecommendReply Joseph Belbruno 6 hours ago @ Jake - Definitely right about Taiwanese democracy. But neither Taiwan nor Singapore are...”Chinese states”! Cheers. ReportShare2RecommendReply Barry Manga 7 hours ago Is this the closest Martin Wolf is going to get to saying "Trump is right"? ReportShareRecommendReply onomasticator 6 hours ago @Barry Manga - hmmm . . . "The US administration’s view — that the unilateral exercise of US power is all that is needed — will fail." What do you think, Barry? ReportShare2RecommendReply Barry Manga 6 hours ago @onomasticator @Barry Manga "all" that is needed, tacit endorsement? ReportShareRecommendReply Barry Manga 7 hours ago " As recently as 1990, advanced countries generated 78 per cent of world output at market prices and 64 per cent at purchasing power parity." Outsourcing ReportShareRecommendReply onomasticator 7 hours ago The central point is irrefutable: we need to put our own house in order. The culture wars have been hobbling the U.S. from within for 25 years. The first priority in the U.S. is to renew its democracy by repealing or undoing pernicious and undemocratic changes made in recent decades. In no particular order: - Overturn the Citizens United decision - undo the power of limitless money in politics. - Attack gerrymandered districts, root and branch - Reform of the Electoral College. - Prioritize teacher pay and healthcare reform - single payer is the obvious way to go. - Put teeth in ethics rules through legislation: Trump still has disclosed nothing of his financial affairs despite the obvious conflicts of interest arising from capital and debt from unsavory foreign elements (including those with ties to the Russian mob). His annual financial disclosures were due yesterday - he seems to have blown that off. It's clear he and his family are cleaning up financially, leaving no self-enriching stone unturned as they leverage the presidency to maximum effect (witness China's sudden agreement to provide debt on a Trump-related venture in Indonesia). Trump is simply ignoring the rules and flouting the Emoluments Clause as if it didn't exist, making the Clintons look like wide-eyed naifs. - Restoration of the Fairness Doctrine as the price of having broadcast licenses - in some way content providers should be held accountable for what is presented as news. You do not get to yell "fire" in a crowded theater: why should people be allowed to knowingly lie and mislead? Or disseminate the same using pseudonyms on behalf of foreign governments? ReportShare5RecommendReply onomasticator 7 hours ago - correction: looks like Trump finally did file his financial disclosures just under the wire. Look forward to seeing whether he declared the payoff to Stormy. ReportShareRecommendReply VuDu51eEtage 7 hours ago Last week this very same article was presented as Martin's edited notes from his gathering with a select group from the Chinese 'elite'; this week he confesses that their views have become his entirely. ReportShare3RecommendReply GDCC 8 hours ago "Western models are discredited" This unnecessarily provocative and eye-catching statement is spurious and misleading. It suggests that Western civilization itself is discredited. No, it isn't, it has just been betrayed by these so-called "Western models" that Martin Wolf refers to but doesn't describe. They are neo-liberal models based on central democracy, permanent economic stimulus and the triumph of individualism. Nothing to do with Western civilisation and I will not insult readers by reminding them what this term means. ReportShare6RecommendReply quarky 9 hours ago The West needs to re-set the terms of trade with China. China has enjoyed relatively unfettered access to foreign markets (including investments), while erecting a whole world of non-trade barriers designed to constrain foreign investment in China, then siphon off the foreign technology from ventures that are allowed, subsidizing its protected national champions, then sending them out on subsidized offshore buying sprees. It's been an impressive feat. But China would not have gotten nearly as far as it has, had the rest of the world had been playing by the same rules. China has been laughing all the way to the bank. Surely, Chinese leaders can't believe that the West has remained so gullible, so passive, so ignorant or careless of its own interests, for so long. But if China is going to be a superpower, then it shouldn't expect to receive preferential treatment as a 'developing' economy'. I have no great love for Donald Trump. But at least he has finally recognized all of this, and had the courage to call China to terms. ReportShare7RecommendReply cogitamus 9 hours ago Despite millennia of philosophizing and revolutionizing, it appears neither the west nor the east have come to truly know themselves. We are still astray, probing in a Platonic cave. Liberal democracy has proved no panacea, nor has neo-authoritarianism or neo-Confucianism. Indeed, as tragically observed by the late German sociologist Luhmann, no political system, self-referential, could ever come to reach itself. More tragic still, more often than not, politics is necessarily divisive and nihilist, as it rallies by dividing; grounds by negating; and rapaciously feeds on the marketing of convenient facts, narratives and visions. It is no surprise then that China and the west should both be beset by woes . Still, while they are charitably entitled to continue to evolve their parallel little universes and temples, they should also each be exhorted to shed hubris and concede ignorance. And thus humbly cohabit in “virtuous dissensual harmony ", as famously prodded by Confucius. And collaborate to further shared prosperity, as has been eloquently argued by the article. ReportShare4RecommendReply Heron 9 hours ago Are Western countries really badly run? Is it cheaper to make goods in China? It is common to say yes to both. We have been programed to say so, but the truth is something more opaque. If Western countries are so badly run, then why is the average Westerner so much better off compared to 20 years ago in terms of purchasing power, access to education, better environmental standards, product quality standards, heath, universal pensions, and indeed to better foodstuffs, whether or not we eat too much fast food. By and large, we are enjoy freedom from speech and little persecution for our beliefs. We take these things for granted, but surely these are signs that Western Liberal Democracies have not been doing to badly, bearing in mind colonies have not been propping up the West for some considerable time. Enjoying these standards of living, of course, cost money and many countries do run deficits. We do this because we have exported jobs to developing countries like China. Why, because it is cheaper to do so. Why is China cheaper? Labour is cheaper, but otherwise China has very little in the way of resources to give it a competitive advantages. It imports just about every raw material, except 'dirty' coal (i.e. the lowest and most polluting variety). So what also makes China cheaper is a lack of environmental standards (pollution levels that would not be tolerated in the West), lack of free education, healthcare or universal pensions. etc. In other words, what causes the West to run deficits is that we are having what we want produced in developing countries, where they do not incur the same costs because they do not pay for their citizens to have the same quality of life that we in the West enjoy. Now, I believe that what MW writes, he does so honestly, based on his occasional trips to the East, but my 26 years of living and working in Asia tells me that things are not so bad in the West and should the West insist on the same terms of engagement, China and other developing countries would not be quite so competitive. We insist that our companies ensure that their suppliers adhere to minimum standards, so why not the same country to country? ReportShare9RecommendReply Debt Exile 7 hours ago @Heron Although in principle I believe you are correct, particularly when one is in Canada or continental Europe (not Britain) things seem well-organised and well-run and generally much more pleasant than the overcrowded megacities of Asia, but you are simply wrong on some accounts. "why is the average Westerner so much better off compared to 20 years ago in terms of purchasing power" - this is simply not true. If one were to examine median purchasing power minus debt/rents, this is clearly false in the USA and UK's case, and not much better elsewhere aside for some Nordic countries and outliers like Ireland. Inequality has had a devastating effect on this argument. Thus, particularly in the US and UK again, "access to education, better environmental standards, product quality standards, heath, universal pensions, and indeed to better foodstuffs" is only partially true as health and education have become, again, subject to the fragmentation and declining standards for the bottom half characteristic of inequality. ReportShare5RecommendReply Revenant 6 hours ago @Debt China is also producing an army of highly educated STEM workers. Simply characterizing the Chinese as cheap labor is a wildly misinformed characterization. ReportShareRecommendReply Jonathan Story 10 hours ago "But we are moving from a western-dominated past to a post-western future". Really? I thought China is a prime supporter of a Westphalian world. ReportShareRecommendReply Edelweiss 10 hours ago My my!! For all his British erudition, Martin remains a Central European authoritarian pessmist at heart. Who is to say that Western countries have failed to run their societies sucessfully? We are in the midst of one of the most dramatic and destructive social and economic upheavals in history. And as the late Swedish researcher Hans Rosling ponts out in his sadly last book "Factfulness," things are not going all that badly. But there has been a tedency in the West, especially the Germanic countries , to give up immedialtely in face of uncertainty and to celebrate authoritarian solutions as the only way to manage a difficult future. Where are your values Martin? Where is your understanding of modern society? China has always been a major power. Its low point in the 19th and 20th century was caused by many factors, but the inability to allow for openness and change was amongst the most important. Now China is taking the same authoritarian path and the great Martin Wolfe celebrates it. How about India? Does their model mean nothing? Even Indoneisia is not doing that badly. But just as his predecssors admired the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany or pre-1980 Japan as the new controlilng factors in an uncertain world, so has Martin now jumped on the China bandwagen. Very disappointing. Shame on you Martin. You need to relearn a few basic principles of Western society before you sell us so short. ReportShare8RecommendReply Bam Bam 10 hours ago To judge China as this unstoppable powerhouse is to make the same mistake that economists made about Japan in the late 1980's. Except Japan didn't falsify its economic and banking numbers to anything like the extent that the Chinese are doing. And the people of Japan were not subject to the same level of subservience to state needs as the Chinese are now (especially under their current media blackout). Yes Chinese people have wealth (in domestic terms), but that stems from the housing market which is clearly not going to sustain, given the full extent of the debt scenario there (most of which is tied to the housing market). Despite all this fragility, opacity and uncertainty, Xi refuses to deliver either his own people or the outside world a single comforting sentence to address concerns that his 'lifelong rule' decision was made with good intentions. Decisions need to be made at the point about the extent the world wants to lay out a red carpet for this fascist (with Chinese characteristics) dictatorship. Alternately, some country might for once actually forfeit the money and take a stand. Not a Trump fan at all, but fortunately even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. ReportShare6RecommendReply Sound of the Suburbs 10 hours ago Where did the West go wrong? It put its faith in economics. Adam Smith was a Classical Economist who was concerned with the broader political economy; he looked at “The Wealth of Nations”. Today’s narrow economics is just concerned with maximising profit which could be best done in the new and dynamic economies in Asia. The West lowered taxes so the wealthy could create more jobs and wages. Wealthy westerners created those jobs and wages in Asia to maximise their returns. William White (BIS, OECD) has realised economics took a wrong turn 100 years ago when we moved from Classical to Neoclassical economics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iXBQ33pBo&t=2485s The broader political economy considers the all important geopolitical aspects. ReportShare1RecommendReply Archer 11 hours ago Dear oh dear, the FT exhorting me to take out a subscription and refusing to allow free speech on its comments board. How low has the British press sunk. ReportShare1RecommendReply GNR 10 hours ago @Archer It's not British anymore. The FT was bought out by the Japanese a while back. ReportShare1RecommendReply Nayan R. 10 hours ago It is British. Ownership does not change the fact that its journalists, its mindset, its editorial values and political leanings are British and in favour of the British ethos. ReportShare2RecommendReply GS 11 hours ago It is essential for westerners to realise that our biggest enemy has become our inability to run our own countries well. An excellent line and something entirely within our own grasp & addresses at least in part the challenge of discredited western models. I'd add we should do so as part of strengthening alliances and multilateral institutions and governance too; although this can only be possible, sadly, once there is a different President in the White House. ReportShare5RecommendReply Jacob 11 hours ago Do us all a favour everyone.If your protest is real, then be sure not to buy Chinese made wherever possible. Otherwise get back into your otherwise mainly comfortable Chinese made armchair made with irresponsibly sourced hardwood - and stop complaining. ReportShare3RecommendReply Archer 11 hours ago @Jacob Precisely - Boycott Made In China - do not buy Chinese manufactured goods. Apple - get out of China. US trade sanctions if China refuses to stop militarising and invading other parts of the world. ReportShare3RecommendReply Eco510 11 hours ago What part did they invade? ReportShare2RecommendReply Heron 10 hours ago @Eco510 Tibet ReportShare5RecommendReply Archer 11 hours ago Time to hang up your pen, Martin Wolf. This hagiographic, propagandistic article shows no objective independence - merely parroting China's view of itself and what it is attempting to trick the West into thinking about it. The FT (owned by Nikkei whose country is directly threatened by Chinese militarism and nationalism) has allowed itself to be duped into portraying Chinese pretensions to being a great power while misleading the West about its true intentions. Hitler did the same thing in the 1930s and China is repeating his strategy of nationalism, socialism, militarism, dictatorship, territorial aggradisement and delusions of world dominance. China is bribing the rest of the world, the UK included, to believe that it accepts free trade and capitalism. It doesn't. Everything and everyone in China is either owned by or owes loyalty to the corrupt Chinese Communist Party. Even Blackrock and Fidelity have been stupid enough to swallow this. Like Hitler, China is pulling the wool over the eyes of the West. And unless the West wakes up, the consequences will not be pleasant as in 1939. ReportShare12RecommendReply GNR 11 hours ago @Archer Comparing modern China to 1930s Nazi Germany is ridiculous, but you have a point about Wolf hanging up his pen. ReportShare2RecommendReply Archer 11 hours ago @GNR @Archer It is in no way ridiculous, my friend - there are at least 25 to 30 close parallels between China today and Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Obviously you have a limited knowledge of modern history, otherwise you would know them. China and Hitler's Germany are / were Totalitarian Dictatorships ; One Party States ; Aggressively Nationalistic ; Communist / Fascist ; Allied with communist / fascist states ; oppose(d) western democracies ; Repressive ; Propagandistic ; No Freedom of Speech or Religion or Press ; Cults of Personality ; Command Economy ; War Economy ; Large Scale Militarisation ; Invaded Neighbouring Countries ; Trampled on International Law ; Broke Agreements - Hong Kong and Munich ; Cold War / World War combatants, Militarised territory occupied ;Conducted Proxy Wars ; Claim(ed) neighbouring countries [Tibet, Taiwan / Sudetenland, Austria] ; Revanchist Nationalism [Japan, Russia, UK, US / France, UK, US] ; Re-uniting ‘the Motherland’ & ‘the Fatherland’ ; One Belt One Road & Autobahn military highways ; Regional targets [Taiwan, Sth Korea, Japan] & [Poland, Russia, W Europe] ; Using trade to defeat West ; Soviet-German Non Aggression Pact ; Infiltration & Subversion ReportShare10RecommendReply Heron 10 hours ago @GNR @Archer You probably did not catch this article in the NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/opinion/china-re-education-camps.html ReportShare2RecommendReply 5 replies Forward 11 hours ago I fail to understand how anyone could disagree with such a lucid, balanced article - thanks Mr Rachman . But then this is probably the problem: I live in a bubble where I can’t see how anyone can disagree? ReportShare8RecommendReply Odysseus 11 hours ago As China´s erstwhile trade partners finally wake up to, and forcefully confront China´s utterly unacceptable behaviour, expect more such sorry pieces from the likes of MW and his fellow sell-outs. Clearly the Chinese communist party bosses got their money´s worth from MW´s last jolly to Beijing. ReportShare6RecommendReply Joseph Belbruno 11 hours ago @ Odysseus @coolhead - Yes, once again, it is rather sad to see how rapidly enticements and inducements from a murderous Dictatorship can corrode and corrupt one’s intellect and - to complete the alliteration - induce it to collude with a leadership that by contrast induces revulsion and utter disgust in all people of good will. As Kant observed, the contrary of beauty is not ugliness - it is disgust; and that is what we feel when truths are distorted and warped in the service of baseless brutality. Martin Wolf now runs the very serious risk of joining an emetic group of people indeed - those intellectuals, from Lukacs to Sartre (Stalin), from Heidegger to Nolte (Hitler) and the countless Maoist myrmidons of more recent times who abuse and abase their intellect to serve hideously unworthy causes. Wolf’s column is so lazy, haplessly pointless and pathetically contradictory that it hardly deserves serious attention. In a pitiful attempt to project self-serving ideological myths emanating from the Chinese Dictatorship, Wolf is quite prepared to advance preposterous fallacies and unwarranted generalisations: the weaker his protestations grow, the more vacuous and empty of content his assertions wax lyrical. Whatever respect we had for this eminence grise is fast evaporating... ReportShare3RecommendReply sun carriage 10 hours ago @Joseph Belbruno Words words words. You have clearly shut your mind off from what Wolf views actually are. You analyse nothing, not a single point do you specifically say where, in your opinion, that Wolf is not only wrong, but actually, a mouthpiece of the Politburo. i am suspicious of China's intentions, but what worries me far more, is the lack of strategic thinking and action from the West, to ensure that China cannot become a state that can position itself to exercise untrammeled political or military power, as this century progresses. China has a population that the mind can barely conceive and an economic size that unarguably will match and then supersede that of the US. The West, for all its flaws, has created a global regulatory system, that has been the overwhelming factor in lifting billions of people out of poverty, including those of China. China did not achieve it, on its own. We must fight to extend this regulatory system, and bring China to the conclusion, that it is in its own long term interests, to fully participate in it. ReportShare3RecommendReply Offthehousingladder 11 hours ago I read the Decline of the West (both volumes) in my undergraduate days. Oswald Spengler never discussed purchasing power parity. Spengler wrote those two volumes with fold out charts during and immediately after WWI ... The West would go on to immolate itself in WW2 and then lose its colonies and then live in nuclear stalemate for most of the rest of the century. I'm not sure it declined. But Martin Wolf as always makes the salient point: "It is essential for westerners to realise that our biggest enemy has become our inability to run our own countries well." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decline_of_the_West#Democracy,_media,_and_money ReportShare1RecommendReply Kali 11 hours ago @Offthehousingladder ""It is essential for westerners to realise that our biggest enemy has become our inability to run our own countries well." Probably a result of colonial complacency: Why worry about properly administering one's own country when the labour and resources of the world lay at one's feet - simply because one has the best weapons money can buy? The West should take heed of China's attractiveness in Africa in particular where, apparently, the allure of capitalism is steadily losing its shine. ReportShare3RecommendReply Offthehousingladder 11 hours ago @Kali @Offthehousingladder My experience (limited) of Africa tells me China's attractiveness is to regime leaders, less so the people. Not saying that ordinary folks dislike the Chinese, it probably doesn't come up. But the people who benefit most are people like Mugabe and his clique and others still in power. ReportShare3RecommendReply Heron 10 hours ago @Kali @Offthehousingladder More like a new breed of colonialism called economic colonialism. China lends money to African countries that it cannot repay for projects, some of dubious value, which are implemented by Chinese companies and very often Chinese labour. You might say that right minded African governments would not accept such bad terms, but sadly they are bribed. Once in hock, these countries become dependents of China. ReportShare1RecommendReply Kali 12 hours ago At last, sweet lucidity on such matters amidst the froth and hysteria of the current media landscape. You made me one happy subscriber this morning. Thank you, sir. ReportShare5RecommendReply coolhead 12 hours ago It is sad to see MW turning FT’s op-ed pages into CCP propaganda sheets. It might please his wumao fans on the comments boards but it is an embarrassment that an FT op-ed columnist would openly root for an authoritarian regime. All because he still can’t digest Trump. For more discerning readers, Barry Eichengreen has just done an excellent rebuttal that counters most of MW’s propaganda points. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/china-future-of-democracy-by-barry-eichengreen-2018-05 ReportShare8RecommendReply Boombust 12 hours ago The section in "China does not want to run the world" is especially flimsy. Mutual distrust certainly makes it sound credulous. However, if one uses America as the gold standard for running the world, China's global ambition is lighter than tin. More importantly, without a disruptive world event as dramatic as a third world war, it would be hard to see how China could achieve the kind of global policeman status that the US currently have to enjoy or endure depending on yr point of view. Btw, the word "judge" in the title of the article sounds a tad too moralistic. The west, especially the Europeans is holding a weak hand and they have no business judging anybody except themselves. ReportShare4RecommendReply Natural Outswing 13 hours ago It seems more likely that the belief in "strong central rule" is the product of a recently strengthened central ruler and his system defining patronage. As for Western models being discredited, much of this is the catering to nationalism and its relatives by cynical political operators ReportShareRecommendReply washu 13 hours ago Yes, we Americans are in denial that our days of pre-eminence are ending, that probably both China and India will surpass us economically. That being said I might posit 1) That China's statism/state capitalism could unravel as citizens material lives improve and they POSSIBLY seek more individual freedoms, and 2) China's trade policy is not less nefarious than Trump's as shown by massive theft of intellectual property, product dumping etc. Europe, in particular is simply more willing to turn a blind eye to China's abuses because, unable to generate its own economic growth, it needs Chinese investment and, after all, the US is obviously the cause of all world problems. ReportShare2RecommendReply The Blue Ivan 13 hours ago China always has, and always will be, “the country of the future”. I’ll leave my savings in the S&P500, thanks all the same. ReportShare3RecommendReply 200 meters 14 hours ago Excellent analysis. Mr Wolf is one of a handful of western analysts who understands China. ReportShare8RecommendReply Archer 11 hours ago @200 meters Sure he is - rather a pity he made no mention of the Tian An Men Square Massacre, China's invasion of Tibet in 1949, its demonisation of the Dalai Lama over 70 years, its installation and support of the murderous, genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, its invasion of Vietnam in 1979, its proxy wars in Korea, Vietnam, Africa and Asia, the insanity of the Cultural Revolution (in which XJP's own sister was killed by marauding mobs), its invasion of the Spratley Islands - and many other 'incidents'. With this type of background, can China ever be trusted by the West ? Of course not. ReportShare1RecommendReply Prashant Sahay 14 hours ago Mr. Wolf is relying on the assumption that China's economy will become the largest in the world, presumably due to its large population. This might not come true. In the future, productivity could become the primary factor determining the size of a country's economy. The population size might have to take a back seat. Productivity, in turn, will be a function of technologies such as robotics, machine intelligence, etc. Robots can be rapidly produced and trained, they do not take nine months to be born and 16 years to be trained. This could lead to a productivity boom in the advanced economies. Mr. Wolf should not extrapolate today's structure of economies into the future. ReportShare3RecommendReply a chinese reader of ft 14 hours ago Your argument is based on the assumption that china will not be able to lead the next round of development on robotics and artificial intelligence. ReportShare5RecommendReply Manuel Alatorre 13 hours ago @Prashant Sahay The creation of a robot population able to produce and perform tasks on a level similar to humans is yet far away several decades, but most of all such a society will inevitably have a much greater energy consumption than our own, just simply to power such machines and produce enough of them and keep up with the growing demands of their human population. How to provide enough energy for such a Society is something also beyond any capabilities so far developed by today's energy providers, Solar and Wind, which are favored due to least environmental costs are not able to produce such quantities of energy by any technological development feasible today, neither able to do so are the Oil and Coal Industries, they are limited by the obvious rising costs of their future raw materials. That leaves Nuclear, which today is being constrained to an ever smaller degree in its costs and lack of success in providing better savings, of course Maybe one day the ITER will change all that and a fusion powered, Robot working society will ensue, maybe. ReportShare1RecommendReply Boombust 12 hours ago China might be able to level the playing field in technology when it comes to robotics and AI, but the population might become a drag more than a boost to economy in the future. ReportShare1RecommendReply 1 reply Joseph Belbruno 14 hours ago This is either a mea culpa - Wolf seeking to hedge on some points and apologise on others - or an apologia pro vita sua - Wolf having one last fling at an analytical position that is quite untenable. The last straw to salvage Wolf’s sinking ship is....wait for it....that Chinese students are changing the West!!?? I am surrounded by Chinese students from Melbourne to Shanghai, worked to help them migrate in Australia for nearly 20 years, and this is the most laughable assertion I have read in a while! One deep and meaningful assertion in Wolf’s column (one of his weakest in months, if not years): - that “China” is very fragile politically - and, I add, that it will most probably collapse as an Empire over the next few decades. As for the rest, were Trump to announce tomorrow that all semi-conductor sales to Huawei will cease immediately, then that Empire would have only seconds to live! Sic transit mundus... ReportShare5RecommendReply TAC 15 hours ago Here's a sobering thought: How many 'great' empires have peacefully transitioned into former empires? The best is probably Britain and only because it 'won' WWII at tremendous cost of life and resources and was surpassed by the empire that assisted with it's victory. That pattern is unlikely to reproduce itself in this context, and God help us if it does. ReportShare2RecommendReply Grumpy Bear 15 hours ago Even then, Britain only grudgingly accepted US dominance after Suez. And I'm sure the Falklands War had nothing to do with them trying to reassert themselves as a Great Power... ReportShareRecommendReply A Corbynista 12 hours ago @Grumpy Bear Britain accepted US dominance long before Suez, probably at the end of WW1. ReportShare1RecommendReply Webdivr 55 minutes ago Britain did not accept US dominance until about the time of Suez mainly because until about 1940 Britain and its empire were about equal to the USA measured in GDP. During Suez the Americans were able to use their by then overwhelming economic might to simply stop the UK and France absolutely dead in their tracks. By that time the British empire was almost history, the British economy was failing, and the American population and economy were absolutely massive by comparison with the UK. When you stop and think about it, this represented a rather sudden change in Britain's status in the world, no wonder it took a while to get used to it! ReportShareRecommendReply Chase D. Parker III 15 hours ago "It is essential for westerners to realise that our biggest enemy has become our inability to run our own countries well." I fully agree with this but don't see how it will come about. China is a convenient political piñata and galvanizes the "unproductive rage" across both parties, Democrat and Republican. In the end, the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew said it best when he asked if the West was ever willing to accept China as an equal? If not, it would be emotionally unacceptable for the Chinese. And the pursuit of a China containment strategy would only force the Chinese to develop a counter strategy to destroy the West. ReportShare4RecommendReply GNR 15 hours ago @Chase D. Parker III Ask all of China's neighbors how they feel about China. This is not just a West vs. China discussion. But that is often forgotten through the prism of the West vs. the rest type conversations. ReportShare5RecommendReply Grumpy Bear 15 hours ago You think the rest of America was a fan of the US rise? You are kidding yourself if so. We went to war with Mexcio a number of times, and the relationship with Canada was historically fraught. ReportShare5RecommendReply Manuel Alatorre 13 hours ago @Chase D. Parker III It all comes down to The USA Vs China, not so the West, Bush Jr and Now Trump have laid bare the American Rivalry and enmity to the EU and any pretense that "The West" will fight China is a figment of the imagination, it would need extraordinarily special circumstances. ReportShare2RecommendReply 4 replies Quinn 16 hours ago Using the word "Judge" in the title is inappropriate given such word has a negative connotation. ReportShare3RecommendReply ironrooster 16 hours ago Mr Wolf carries on the tradition of graying, Mandarin-illiterate westerners who seemed determined to declare the “end” of a world order which enriched them. It’s a very odd phenomenon. Perhaps it’s their late-career way of staying relevant in a world which has passed them by? Anyway, younger generations needn’t worry: open systems always prevail over closed ones, which calcify and collapse under their own bureaucratic weight. ReportShare4RecommendReply A_Reader 16 hours ago Dear All, "How the west should judge a rising China?" One does not need to read this article to know the answer: by accepting a multipolar world order. Very simple and obvious. A_Reader, Ph.D. ReportShare5RecommendReply kklimmy 16 hours ago Yes a multipolar world order is necessary now however the US and EU don’t seem to acknowledge this. Therein lies the problem. ReportShare4RecommendReply A_Reader 12 hours ago @kklimmy "Yes a multipolar world order is necessary now however the US and EU don’t seem to acknowledge this. " I am not sure they have much of a choice... unless they prefer to see a good deal of the planet earth inhabited by insects only. ReportShare1RecommendReply Kali 10 hours ago @kklimmy In particular, for countering the bipolar world of DT... ReportShare1RecommendReply 3 replies Brecon Clovis 16 hours ago The fundamental error of this kind of writing is that it persists with the late 19th century view of Rudyard Kipling and others that “East is East and West is West and never the two shall meet.” The article is full of expressions such as “us” and “them”. It is the essence of Mr Wolf’s article that he is acting as a secular prophet warning “his” people to take care of a coming doom. In fact the dreams of 19th century missionaries and secular missionaries has largely come true for the world has effectively been turned into 19th century Europe. Mr Wolf is probably following in the tradition of scientists and academics in the 1930s who were fascinated by the rise of the Soviet Union and Germany and thought that the ability to command and control massed battalions in industry and the battlefield was the future. In the UK they were mainly in academia and in the US they included “automobile” Ford. The ideals of that particular generation of fellow travelers was left on the mid-20th century battlefields. But the real point of interest in the near future will not be whether China, the US or the EU “wins”. What will be most interesting is what will replace these inefficient, sub-continental monstrosities. And when people get tired of economic graphs and PowerPoint presentations what they will newly discover human nature to be. The coming generation that may do that is currently being trained in various kinds of international economic and political organization and moving freely over the globe from posting to posting and job to job. They are not too concerned about sub-continental states and their leaders or aspirant leaders, whether those of the past such as Hitler or Stalin, or the present such as China, the US or the EU. These entities are becoming increasingly fragile and it is the people and organizations emerging from behind them that are of interest. ReportShare6RecommendReply tudfbarley 11 hours ago China, despite seeming so wonderful in therms of economic growth while being such great friends and all wil the US and EU, is having major political problems on the inside. Every democratic experiment in villages turned into rallies against the incumbent Chinese government over the pas few years. https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSBRE89R0JJ20121029 I can tell you one thing: every Chinese member of parliament read Trotsky and is an expert in the collapse of the Soviet Union by Russia. A mistake China is not willing to make itself. ReportShare1RecommendReply Wicked_Chicken 17 hours ago As a freedom loving person in a democratic country I do have some fear/concern of how the world operates when countries that place a high value on human rights are not the dominant force in the world. I think the question will be if two competing systems are present - democratic/market based and centrally planned/semi-market with authoritarianism and less rule of law. I think it will be nuanced and not black and white communism vs democracy. ReportShare5RecommendReply ShamusOclayklee 17 hours ago @Wicked_Chicken I think its likely that the authoritarian systems will eventually calcify and collapse. Historically China has been an enormously unstable place and the process of bringing a middle income country to an advanced stage of development is a wrenching process. Against that backdrop the further centralization of power in China makes two possible outcomes likely; - An inability to break out of the middle income trap due to institutional rigidity and the necessary knock to human capital that maintaining an authoritarian system presents - Political jockeying that results in a misstep that brings the bubbling resentment and angst violently to the surface, a la the cultural revolution. Democracies have an inherent pressure release value which mitigates/addresses grievances. That doesn't exist in China. ReportShare2RecommendReply Mr Chow 17 hours ago For a country tipped to take over the world for the last 5,000 years, China has a special gift to mess things up royally. And every time because of its (corrupt) leaders. So the idea that China needs strong men to succeed could be debunked by its troubled history (and that of the world for that matter) Today 56% of the planet's population lives in democratic regimes, it was less than 15% in 1950, this is a natural evolution and there is nothing that can be done about it as people get "smarter" and educated and realize leaders are just glorified bureaucrats (who would not even know how to run an ice cream stand on a tropical beach....business journalists and punters should be added here) and want to change them often. Looking back at how the world has gotten globally wealthier, with more than 85% of its population now lifted out of extreme poverty, it can be argued that China got where it is in spite of its leaders and not thanks to them. People thrive if they can exchange and move freely (even if virtually), period, no central planning can change this. China is isolated and it would not take much for what appears to be a fragmented group of countries to band together and impose the world order to remain as it is. And let's see how things turn out when/if the country faces its first real big economic speed bump. ReportShare6RecommendReply Old School Canuck 17 hours ago Mr Wolf: It is impossible for me to disagree with this statement: "But China is also an essential partner in ensuring a reasonably co-operative, stable, prosperous and peaceful world." I also happen to agree that US policy in particular is presently incoherent. I would point out, though, that Chinese policy is not exactly coherent at all times, either. This is particular true of its approach to all the problems it faces in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and its stunning refusal to come up with a better way to manage its differences with Taiwan. China has responsibilities to fulfill, as well, if it is to become that "essential partner" and earn the trust of its neighbours. ReportShare4RecommendReply MB 17 hours ago When the west was ascending it subjugated and brutally ruled about half of the world. No wonder it fears China would the same to it (and others). China does seem intent on bending the law to the maximum extent to suit its agenda and so it is conceivable that it may abuse its power some day as the US does right now. However, a balance of powers between two superpowers who do not see eye to eye on every issue sounds to me as a good thing. Checks and balances. ReportShare4RecommendReply Manuel Alatorre 13 hours ago @MB If you are mid-sized power, with a sufficiently solid economy and diversified trade you are likely to get away with much better deals if both Superpowers can offer competitive advantages. If you are small country then it will all come down to Geography, Political Prestige and ultimately circumstances seldom within your power to control. You keep on being a pawn until successfully graduate to queen, but that almost never happens, very much like in chess. ReportShareRecommendReply Kittenjane 18 hours ago excuse me. But cultural revolution and Great Leap Forward was the consequent of central rule. I don’t see why they both should be put equal as Tiananmen, which started as students protest. ReportShare5RecommendReply GNR 15 hours ago @Kittenjane Yes, you are spot on. The author does not understand this which is troubling at best. Even the People's Daily wouldn't make the argument that the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward are evidence for stronger state control. ReportShareRecommendReply tudfbarley 18 hours ago In the end, everybody listens to the US. As for the power struggle: the US military budget is more than half of that of the world. I won’t say its impossible but goodluck China, or whatever country, to beat that. My guess is the Chinese will prefer cooperation and peaceful trade. ReportShare1RecommendReply HFexponent 17 hours ago @tudfbarley A state which will continue to exist in perpetuity of course as the US economy continues to generate enough money to continue to sustain this military spend and edge forever. Or perhaps not it one takes a view longer than 10-20 years. ReportShare1RecommendReply Tegularius 18 hours ago Citing the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution to justify strong centralised rule in China is laugh-out-loud funny. Best stick to what you know, Martin. ReportShare4RecommendReply Kittenjane 18 hours ago Both was initiated by chairman Mao to possibly crush his oppositions. ReportShareRecommendReply Manuel Alatorre 13 hours ago @Tegularius He is quite right, both moments happened at the challenge of the Authority of Mao by a growing Bureaucracy, they were examples of a weakened central government lashing out disproportionately trying to stamp out opposition to its continued workings. ReportShareRecommendReply The Sinner 18 hours ago I would like to understand what the FT means by ‘advanced’ countries and then by default are the rest (per Trump) $H!7H0L3 countries? ReportShareRecommendReply JO 19 hours ago I have worked for many private and public companies throughout my career and almost all of them had improvement plans and they were able to improve their performance every year. You didn't need to get bigger to get better. Our government gets bigger every year and what they provide gets worse every year, look at education and health care in the US. I think our current thinking in how we govern ourselves needs to re-engineered, what worked 40 years ago no longer works in the US. We have had a lot of disruptive businesses emerge in the last 15 years or so, maybe it is time for disruptive government. ReportShare1RecommendReply Ny 17 hours ago NU ReportShareRecommendReply Ny 17 hours ago Exactly. Problem is vested interests prevent that. Further almost all of us are a vested interest at some time, which is why it is so hard unless their is a crisis. ReportShareRecommendReply TheHeadingtonShark 19 hours ago "The likely response would be yet tighter political and economic control, rather than the needed shift towards a more market-oriented, more private-sector-led and more consumption-driven economy." Mr Wolf: if the evidence from the last 30 years, or even the last 6 months, has not convinced you that this is not going to happen, nothing will. ReportShare2RecommendReply Superfluous 18 hours ago @TheHeadingtonShark You don't think there are 30 years of evidence of China moving towards a market-based private sector economy? Pretty sure the Chinese money which is flooding into my local property market isn't from their state. ReportShare4RecommendReply HFexponent 17 hours ago @Superfluous @TheHeadingtonShark Now, now. Don't use annoying things like facts to clutter up a perfectly well delivered bout of nonsense! ReportShare3RecommendReply Young 19 hours ago China looks very efficient because what centralised totalitarian states are good at is efficiency, which is liberal democracy lacks. However, efficiency is not a panacea. Besides, China has similar problems to the west, indeed far worse. Ever heard of ghost cities? There are tons in China, and no one is arguing about it. Gap between the rich and the poor? US is a joke if you put that with China, which has a far greater inequality ratio. Communist parties have always been good at convincing people, including those most educated, into believing its system, and look good and strong outside. What it did not do well was showing the true quality. Yes, China is indeed becoming big but it is more natural consequences of its resources, geography, people etc, not due to the ruling party. China was so backward due to its centralised power, not the opposite. ReportShare4RecommendReply is32 18 hours ago @Young Is it really efficiency - central planning is not the way to most efficiently allocate capital. The external appearance of efficiency in a police state can be deceiving. ReportShare1RecommendReply Young 17 hours ago @is32 @Young You are right. I am from S.Korea, which used to have centralised police government back in 1970s and 80s. We had a huge economic boom, due to government's ability to quell HR issues and supporting a few promising corporations. That was efficient. But other problems, such as labour rights, environment etc etc cropped out and ate away that much efficiency. China is facing similar, yet worse problems. ReportShare2RecommendReply GNR 15 hours ago @Young Authoritarian states sometimes look more efficient in allocating resources and orderly politically because of the "transparency illusion" (It's a real thing I didn't make it up ha.). That is, countries which have transparent government (ex. UK/US/Canada/AUS) have all of their inefficiencies and instabilities projected on big screens for all to see. Implicit in this is also the open public discourse and criticism which accompanies this transparency. While an authoritarian state like China is not transparent; it is very easy for the government to hide its inefficiencies (ex. staggering corruption). It also gives the appearance outside of a completely stable political and societal environment which anyone worth their salt In China knowledge knows is not true. Mr. Wolf is not worth his salt when it comes to China. ReportShare3RecommendReply Cogito ergo sum 19 hours ago Mixing China and the Chinese Communist Party, Mr. Wolf? Compared with the catastrophies that the CCP has caused the “Western model” looks quite successful. But please look further back than 1978 in China. When Taiwan and South Korea became democracies, their welfare spending increased. If people had a say in China they would presumably vote for more funds for health care, for better air and more transfers to the country side. The useless arms race instigated by the CCP and the lavish spending on internal security would stop due to lack of funds. Why spend more than 1% of GDP for the military if even Japan is on this level? Democracy usually supports peace, dictatorship endangers it. Take care of the words you use: The CCP is not China, as long as the Chinese cannot vote freely. ReportShare7RecommendReply Sound of the Suburbs 19 hours ago “Unfortunately, what the west is getting instead is unproductive rage.” The markets provide what people can afford. The market based economy required an affluent population. Nationalism and religion are free. Marx saw religion as the opium of the masses. They put up with a lot of grief in this life as they needed to be good for the everlasting bliss of heaven. They were smarter in the past; they gave them stuff that was free. The populists have realised nationalism is free. ReportShare2RecommendReply NBeale 20 hours ago Power is NOT a zero sum game. Power is the ability to do what you want to do. Yes this can, sometimes, entail an ability to stop others from doing things they want to do. But it is only zero-sum if your objectives conflict with everyone else’s in a zero sum way. ITRW this almost never happens. The key to intelligent use of power is to do it in non-zero-sum ways. ReportShareRecommendReply aegian 20 hours ago Thank you for this insightful article whose points are clearly realistic. We do indeed require principled resistance. ReportShare4RecommendReply IRONY 20 hours ago Martin Wolf appears unable to see through the world's pretensions and such certainty of the future appears to be hubris. ReportShare3RecommendReply HFexponent 17 hours ago @IRONY I read it more as a wistful hope than a forecast but yes, it will be difficult to balance all of these things and more. ReportShare1RecommendReply Mszargar 21 hours ago What west? US and its vassals? ReportShare1RecommendReply Tempus fugit 21 hours ago One of the good things about being born in England in 1960 is that I missed WW2, have led so far a safe and charmed life compared with 99% of the World; and will not be alive to witness the ruse of China to World Dominance. As racist and imperialistic as Nazi Germany, it makes me sad that the West has so aided this monstrous Virus of a regime, and - to agree with MW- seems unable to sort itself out to stand firm against it now. ReportShare4RecommendReply Is more what unite us than what separate us 17 hours ago You have got to be kidding: so Nazi Germany is more acceptable because it is from the West? What kind of hokus pokus logic is that. Neither Nazi Germany nor abuses from an authoritarian China are acceptable! ReportShareRecommendReply Zhuubaajie 21 hours ago The only viable solution is to make the pie bigger, so everyone can get a bigger slice (absolute size, not relative). Instead of blocking Belt Road, encourage a Greater Asia Economic Union. American financial institutions can make trillions. The wealth of nations depend on optimization according to the comparative advantages of the nations involved, not military strength. America still has advantages in many important fields, so should capitalize on those. ReportShare7RecommendReply Felix2012 20 hours ago @Zhuubaajie Please can you explain how other nations can make billions when the modus operandi is (i) China lends 3rd country money at market interest (more or less) (ii) Send in chinese contractors and chinese materials to get those money back. Or did I miss that part that they do open tenders on these contracts? (iii) 3rd country is left with a large debt. If the asset performs than the 3rd country can benefit, if the asset does not perform or is of sub standard build then the debt remain. ReportShare3RecommendReply H_ZC 19 hours ago @Felix2012 @Zhuubaajie 1). Less than market interest in most cases 2). You have no idea how much human resources needed to build up infrastructures. Yes millions of people needed. The ratio of local workers to Chinese expats are larger than 10 to 1. The chinese engineers work closely with their brothers/sisters in Africa to build a prosperous Africa. You western people or western paws do nothing except "unproductive rage". 3). You will see, or your kids will see. ReportShare1RecommendReply Wenren 18 hours ago @Zhuubaajie Like your comment and your moniker! ReportShare2RecommendReply Herman-the-German 21 hours ago Great insight and touches on the right point: China does not want to take over the world, but they want their fair share. „We“ as the west have lived and prospered on them for a while, now it’ll balance back. Done right this does not mean a decline for us but the problem is that people like the current US President do not understand that, moreover they don’t understand that they are on the shorter handle as they want something from China and not the other way round. What the worlds needs more than ever is a mankind that works together to solve real problems and enables everyone to live a prosperous live, instead some people want to divide the world even more. Don’t let them win! ReportShare4RecommendReply The Sinner 18 hours ago Outside of ‘the West’ also known as ‘advanced’ countries no one wants to take over the world. The west took over the world in the 1700s on wards and now its lost that grip. And it needs to. ReportShareRecommendReply MB 18 hours ago I dont disagree with that, but i think the US will see it as a decline. Maybe not financially but certainly in terms of ego and leadership. Can the US handle that? Plus in an ever-shrinking world can the two systems (democracy and socialist republic) work hand in hand? ReportShare1RecommendReply US Analyst 22 hours ago And how exactly was the former US administration dealing with this post western future? Please tell, Martin. ReportShare3RecommendReply Sound of the Suburbs 22 hours ago A new scientific economics was supposed to bring prosperity to all. It didn’t happen. The West needs to start again and ask the most fundamental question. What is real wealth creation? Adair Turner has looked at the situation prior to the crisis where advanced economies were growing by 4 - 5%, but the debt was rising at 10 – 15%. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCX3qPq0JDA This always was an unsustainable growth model; it had no long term future. This is the real problem and the neoliberal model just borrowed from the future to bring prosperity into today, leaving the future impoverished. We need to ask the most fundamental question. What is real wealth creation? It isn’t inflating asset prices with debt. It isn’t rent seeking; the appropriation of other peoples hard earned income by idle rentiers, e.g. landlords. We need to work out the most fundamental of all the questions in capitalism. What is real wealth creation? ReportShare2RecommendReply Cassandra 15 hours ago @Sound of the Suburbs There is no such thing as scientific economics. What actually exists is Power and Accounting. Otherwise the transfer of wealth to the upper 1% of The Western nations cannot be understood, ReportShare1RecommendReply Paul A. Myers 22 hours ago A salient characteristic of rising powers is that they generate huge savings during their rise and of necessity invest much of that abroad, further increasing the commercial empire that generates the savings and provides world-dominating scale.. Countries in this enviable position ask not the debtors what their leave should be--no matter how many aircraft carriers the now sinking power floats! If the US is Athens in the Thucydides' trap hypothesis, then the Greater Middle East is its Sicily, the overseas adventure that will drain the life out of the domestic polity. The elites will shrink back into their group think. The response then and now is to build walls. How clever! The US political establishment shows no signs of re-thinking or re-configuring its military forces. The current plan is to spend a trillion a year forever and to fight everywhere forever--in short there is no plan, just a dominating and failing status quo. The idea that the US is going to re-think a new plan vis a vis China and then execute against it over a number of years is implausible. The idea that the US will get allies to cooperate in such an undertaking looks remote. (Maybe they can convene a meeting in their new embassy in Jerusalem?) The US is a big sitting duck. In the best restaurants in China, the question de jour is: duck tonight, monsieur? ReportShare10RecommendReply GNR 16 hours ago @Paul A. Myers You have a disturbing fixation on ducks sir! ReportShareRecommendReply Manuel Alatorre 12 hours ago @Paul A. Myers Should things not change, the inertia of the social and economic process will lead China to overtake the US sometime at the middle of the century, not because it produces more aircraft, drones, Missiles etc, but because by then China will be using its interest on Capital to produce those forces while America will be eating its own Capital trying to keep up with them. Maybe that point happens sooner thanks to the ever greater recklessness of the Present Administration. ReportShareRecommendReply Z 22 hours ago It is such a pity that Martin is not the politians of the west. We need sensible politicians like Martin! ReportShare5RecommendReply A Corbynista 22 hours ago @Z A good journalist does not necessarily make a good politician. ReportShare3RecommendReply HFexponent 17 hours ago @A Corbynista @Z Probably a better one than a reality TV-star/ debt-fueled property mogul however? ReportShare1RecommendReply A German in the US 23 hours ago Good article. The West does not have a clear strategy, but it is difficult having one. Retreat or resist, and if so, how? No easy answers, I fear. ReportShare3RecommendReply La Bergerie 23 hours ago I'm sure China is grateful for Martin Wolf's support, whatever little that's worth. All command economies should have their own mouthpieces and Martin Wolf is clearly happily sucked into their vortex. ReportShare15RecommendReply Tempus fugit 23 hours ago @La Bergerie Nice lecture circuit though. ReportShare5RecommendReply Z 22 hours ago Regardless whose coments it is , the facts about China remain, so I think the wesrten world should be grateful to have this wakeup call. ReportShare5RecommendReply HFexponent 17 hours ago @La Bergerie Quite right. Ignore the Fake News and annoying things like facts that don't align with your world view. ReportShare1RecommendReply 1 reply lbk 23 hours ago Excellent article, Mr Wolf. To note that this article summarise his ASSESSMENTS of what he heard and the previous article on the subject REPORTED what he heard. I do find it dispiriting that comments focus on his use of the word "Marxism" [I can't find it in this article] and on his liberal and sometimes illiberal bias. Make your minds up!. Martin Wolf is a solid [but not brilliant] economist who writes solid articles about [political-] economy. Objective reporting does still exist in this newspaper and he epitomises it. Read what he writes . Please. Without knee-jerking into condemnation for views he does not espouse. ReportShare11RecommendReply GNR 16 hours ago @lbk No, that's only half of it. It's a report of what he "heard" mixed with his own opinions. He's not clear where it's the Commies and where it's him. That's the lazy and confusing part of all of this. I have no idea why he is considered a "solid" anything after reading these embarrassing articles on China. He's shown he has little to no grasp of Chinese history nor understands the current environment in China nor what China's policies are. His writing is opaque, ignorant and critically unsound. He refuses to substantiate his claims or use evidence to support his points. Him writing for the FT now has made the whole newspaper suspect to me. ReportShare1RecommendReply Heavenhelpus 23 hours ago Advanced countries are hobbled by the Fake News MSM ReportShare2RecommendReply mtg 23 hours ago Paraphrasing 'Lie down and don't fight it. Just let it happen.' Also 'There is a sudden failure of governance in the west as if from nowhere. Populism is rising for unknown reasons' Ironic ReportShare3RecommendReply Tylos 23 hours ago Never mind the communist fossils in power now, i'm curious to see how the young people that have grown up in rich, prosperous china and have traveled and lived abroad extensively will run the country when they inevitably take the reins. Marxism they read not. I think they may provide the biggest pleasant surprise in the 21st century for all. ReportShare1RecommendReply Crossing 23 hours ago @Tylos you probably mention the word "Marxism" way more often than an average Chinese. ReportShare2RecommendReply Charles Shillingburg 22 hours ago @Tylos China is not Marxist. It is Fascist. ReportShare2RecommendReply BHC 20 hours ago @Tylos They will wake up to avoid another century of this stupid ideology trap. What I worry is are they going to wake up to the impending environmental diaster caused by consumerism. ReportShareRecommendReply Sound of the Suburbs 1 day ago How do the Chinese know more about the capitalist system than we do, when they only adopted it a few decades ago? At Davos they had a forum to discuss the next financial crisis. The Western experts thought they had the upper hand at Davos this year and were looking forward to making mincemeat of the Chinese regulator that is present at a meeting to talk about the next financial crisis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WOs6S0VrlA The Chinese regulator soon turns the tables. They have invited top Western bankers, not realising these are the people that cause financial crises, they don't see them coming. We still treat bankers as experts and look to them for advice. Robert Rubin was the Goldman Sach’s alumni that advised Clinton not to regulate derivatives. We just don’t seem to learn. The chairman of the meeting first goes to the Western expert, Kenneth Rogoff, and they start talking about his book “This time is different”. Reinhart and Rogoff collect an enormous amount of data in this book, but are missing the key indicator the Chinese have found, the debt-to-GDP ratio. https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.52.41.png 1929 and 2008 stick out like sore thumbs. The Chinese regulator points out the US problem of 1929 level stock markets. The West’s experts can’t change the subject fast enough when he points out this epic blunder (49 mins.) The West has little to teach the Chinese, but we have quite a bit to learn from them. The West doesn’t stand a chance unless we buck our ideas up. ReportShare23RecommendReply Sound of the Suburbs 1 day ago Western economists don’t want to consider debt in economics. Do we keep pandering to them or rise to the challenge from the East? ReportShare1RecommendReply Mr_G 1 day ago Nothing is for certain. They have substantial debt issues that are not well publicized. The future belongs to the most creative (innovative), those that reorganize their focus towards that will be the leaders. ReportShare2RecommendReply Boswell 1 day ago Very good column. I would like to point out one contradiction though. Singapore is definitely a rule of law society. That was Lee Kuan Yew’s particular genius - he kept and adapted that aspect of British rule unlike so many other former colonies. China was moving in that direction but now has reversed course. The Chinese government wants to be advanced like Singapore but it does not want to be Singapore. ReportShare10RecommendReply Steve Unemployment 1 day ago "It is essential for westerners to realise that our biggest enemy has become our inability to run our own countries well." Out biggest enemy is China. You don't have to be a mathematician to realize there is nothing the west can really do to avoid being overtaken economically (and in due course, militarily). Good policy or bad policy, our power and influence will decline and be replaced by Chinese (read communist dictatorship) power and influence. We simply cannot compete with a nation of 1.2 billion people - even if we include Europe we are outmatched and outnumbered, and the Europeans don't have the willingness or capability to do anything at all. The best course is to insulate ourselves and go back to being the isolationists we once were. We are probably one of the few legitimately self-sufficient nations on the plant, particularly now given the shale boom. We are surrounded by two large oceans and have a nuclear deterrent. Of course we will be poorer than a system in which we could trade with the world freely, but China has taken that option off the table. The more we engage with them the more we are susceptible to being influenced, manipulated and blackmailed by them. If the rise of China is truly nothing to be feared, then let the rest of the world welcome that rise without the United States. I suspect America won't seem that bad when you are blocked from boarding your Ryanair flight because your "social credit" score isn't high enough. ReportShare7RecommendReply senill 23 hours ago @Steve Unemployment Many leading US companies, including GM, IBM, Apple, Google, and all the major financial giants don't agree with you. They are becoming international companies. Many of them already get the bulk of their revenues from outside the US. If they pull back into the US they will soon become also-runs internationally and technologically. . Rather than your pessimistic, defeatist view these want to compete. To do so they need a fair international trade system. The TPP would have been a step in the right direction. ReportShare6RecommendReply Charles Shillingburg 22 hours ago @senill @Steve Unemployment China is not about fair trade. ReportShare1RecommendReply sun carriage 18 hours ago @Steve Unemployment 'Any army that stays within its walls, is a beaten army'. Since when have Americans developed such a loser attitude. Get it together. ReportShare1RecommendReply 1 reply cilshafe 1 day ago You are turning into a useful idiot for the Chinese, Martin. They believe in Zero Sum outcomes and are not interested in the rules as currently configured. ReportShare13RecommendReply tdal1moe 1 day ago @cilshafe You seem to be confused - it is the US and President Trump that believe in zero sum outcomes - thus their emphasis on bilateral trade deficits - instead of looking at the big picture (global supply chains, etc.) ReportShare19RecommendReply Bam Bam 10 hours ago @tdal1moe @cilshafe China has done a fantastic job of exporting is bleak world view globally. Of course Trump was quick to lap up zero-sum thinking in his presidential role, but China has only ever known this game. Obama was naively convinced win-win would work. ReportShareRecommendReply Qalamkar 1 day ago While the developed economies still dominate, China has found an alternative by focusing on the under developed countries. From Central Asia to Africa, China is leading the development of a new economy with China as the center. I don't support human rights abuses or authoritarianism but it is undeniable that China is finding its rightful place in the world. ReportShare17RecommendReply Charles Shillingburg 22 hours ago @Qalamkar Rightful???? ReportShare1RecommendReply Bam Bam 10 hours ago @Qalamkar Oh you mean by screwing them over with borrowing for infra projects they usually don't need. This stuff started going sour on a large-scale years ago. Rightful place? Classic 'behind the wall' thinking. ReportShareRecommendReply Qalamkar 4 hours ago @Bam Bam Charles Shillingburg US and Europe have been doing the same for decades, by providing weapons, even more useless mega projects and supporting dictators. The infrastructure projects being sold by China are based on a Chinese centric economy. We should not dismiss this without consideration. For Chinese rightful place in the world.... catchup on world history and you will understand ReportShareRecommendReply GNR 1 day ago Martin, Your pieces on China are becoming more incomprehensible by the week. I read this twice and still don't know what you are trying to say. This is like reading a freshman poli-sci paper with good punctuation and grammar. "Western Models are Discredited" Wow, that's a bold statement. Would you care to expound on that? Your evidence is the 2008 financial crises and that Trump got elected? Is this a joke? And If I'm not mistaken the implication is that Communist dictatorship is superior? Martin you use the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution as evidence of weak central control in China. Those examples show exactly the opposite. That was when China was a totalitarian state under Mao and the party had the most control over every facet of Chinese life. That's why the Communist party started their 10 year terms so that barbaric madness could never happen again, which Xi just undid. I mean you learn that in a History 101 Intro to China class or by picking up a book man! Arguing the Great Leap Forward/Cultural Revolution China are examples of weak state control is like arguing that Russia under Stalin was an example of weak central control of the Soviet Union?! I'm just shaking my head now and shocked that this was published. ReportShare61RecommendReply Darkinbad 1 day ago @GNR Thanks for sharing... ReportShare1RecommendReply H_ZC 1 day ago @GNR You are so disconnected from the real world. Wake up dude! ReportShare30RecommendReply Crossing 23 hours ago @GNR I totally agree with your point about the Great Leap Forward/Cultural Revolution. About "Western models are discredited" - I am Chinese and here is what I believe we are thinking: Western models, represented by democracy and free market, are characters of successful countries but they don't seem to work for emerging market countries. Look at Russia (vs. Soviet Union), Argentina (vs. Chile), and India (vs. China). Most of us, especially the elites who have the power, believe it's kind of naive to think democracy and free market are gifts from the westerners. ReportShare3RecommendReply 9 replies Comment 1 day ago This is a top down China analysis, and assumes that the Chinese population will remain quiescent under elite rule; the first example in modern history of the masses being content with being mere pawns for their masters. ReportShare7RecommendReply Billy Beijing 1 day ago @Comment Um. Russia? ReportShare6RecommendReply senill 23 hours ago @Comment Elite rule (by Mandarins) was the norm and ideal in Imperial China for about 2500 years... ReportShare3RecommendReply BHC 20 hours ago @senill In those 2500 years, bloody peasant revolutions, big and small, number in the hundreds. Elite rule was, and still is a compromise. ReportShareRecommendReply likeswesternculture 1 day ago I'm old enough to remember when the Russians and the Japanese were thought to be ten feet tall -- all but invincible in their respective spheres of competence, military and economic respectively. I suspect the Chinese, too, will turn out to be people of normal height. The most likely outcome is a catastrophic unraveling of their debt-ridden economy. Much of their capital investment has been a government-directed waste, e.g. their steel production capacity is many times what they or the whole world can use. Selling the steel at a loss overseas doesn't sound like a brilliant strategy. Early-stage industrialization is easy. All a nation has to do is import capital and know-how from the developed world (or steal the know-how), add cheap labor, and pursue an export-driven strategy. Voila, another economic miracle. Managing the transition from middle income to high income is difficult. It likely requires trusting market forces more than any elites, anywhere in the world, are willing to do at this time in history. It likely requires innovation and initiative at lower levels rather than cronyism, government "investment," national programs to dominate selected technologies. State-run economies of that size usually founder. Central planning is likely to fail in China as it has almost everywhere else. And the Chinese economy is becoming more and more state-dominated. The planning model seems to work in small countries -- what are effectively city states: Singapore, Sweden, Finland, Denmark. These countries for the most part are ethnically homogenous and can form a social consensus among their few million inhabitants. I don't thing the model will ever apply to a huge, diverse, multiethnic society, with fiercely competing views and interests and differing ideas about what the "good life" consists of. ReportShare1RecommendReply H_ZC 1 day ago @likeswesternculture I wish what you said would become true. People have waited for such kind of moment for over 30 years. ReportShare19RecommendReply senill 22 hours ago @likeswesternculture Sweden and Denmark have a foreign-born proportion roughly similar to the US. Switzerland (another country you might have cited) ismuch higher. Singapore is rather unique -it is a Chinese island in a Malay region. ReportShare3RecommendReply Voxpopuli 6 hours ago @H_ZC @likeswesternculture I was quite young at the time but as I understand it the USSR was invincible right up until it collapsed. ReportShare1RecommendReply 3 replies Effix 1 day ago China is getting old fast before being developed. The last model standing is France (Newsweek, 19/01/2009). Non ? Vive la différence ! :-) ReportShare2RecommendReply sun carriage 1 day ago Readers asked for Mr Wolf to deliver a response to the views he heard expressed by a number of Chinese officials, as recorded a couple of weeks ago, and he has delivered. Not much to argue over, save that we can't really know if Trumpism will survive Trump, or that the American political establishment, will have learnt lessons from both Trump and the failures of previous administrations, to set a course between an overly aggressive America first policy and one of resignation that America's time is done. Europe has no cause to rejoice from either these two extremes, we need a close partnership with a common strategy and much can be said for the Pacific democracies, also. ReportShare11RecommendReply Whale lord 1 day ago Chinas rise is a good thing. Maybe we'll start educating our youth properly. ReportShare29RecommendReply Jeff Schulz 1 day ago @Whale lord i cannot say China rise is good. its like a math test. China scores 50, and we argue Chinese are no good, because they fail the exam, lower than 60. but the truth is we might only score 40. and nobody gets better scores. so which to choose? ReportShare1RecommendReply Billy Beijing 1 day ago @Whale lord This article is on the money, as is your comment. The takeaway of all this for me is that in order to have a hope of making the right decisions going forward, the electorate are going to have to be far better informed. For at least the last 30 years the elite has been negligent in how it has looked after the electorate. This has to change as a real imperative. ReportShare17RecommendReply cilshafe 1 day ago @Whale lord So, the rise of an authoritarian, non-liberal and coercive regime is a good thing? You are right about the need to educate our youth - about the threat to our liberties and values. ReportShare4RecommendReply 1 reply Anton 1 day ago China can aggravate problems when it sinks on and on and on cash into countries with poor governance Exhibit A: Venezuela http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/06/06/venezuelas-road-to-disaster-is-littered-with-chinese-cash/ ReportShare1RecommendReply Jeff Schulz 1 day ago @Anton i doubt if it is a china-specific thing. i reckon its the matter of money, not that of investor. true problem lies in Venezuela itself. ironically, if chinese money in any way betters its (Venezuela) governance, that might draw arguments over Chinese political interventionalism. Tough stuff, eh? ReportShare6RecommendReply Sound of the Suburbs 1 day ago “Western models are discredited” 2008 – “How did that happen?” Ten year on only the West can’t see the problem. "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein. No need to rub salt in the wounds Albert, our people are not bright enough to come up with any new ideas or even work out what went wrong before. ReportShare26RecommendReply Crispy 1 day ago It's about time the West began to come to terms to the serious issues we face in running our own countries. Though, optimistic I am not. ReportShare3RecommendReply Salamander 1 day ago Great article! It is often difficult to find such level-headed analysis of global issues. It is always easier to find faults with others rather than ourselves. There was a comment on intellectual property, which I felt was rather niche, I wonder what he was referring to here? ReportShare39RecommendReply JB 9 hours ago @Salamander https://www.ft.com/content/36c033b0-4d57-11e8-8a8e-22951a2d8493 ReportShare1RecommendReply Sound of the Suburbs 1 day ago The West should keep investing and off-shoring to China to shift the balance of power to the East ASAP. We've been doing it for forty years, there is no point in stopping now. It's too late. ReportShare9RecommendReply Sound of the Suburbs 1 day ago The Chinese came up with neoliberalism in the 1950s, it took until the 1980s for it to became established in the West. It was worth the wait. ReportShareRecommendReply Ali 1 day ago just a point: "For the first time, China will become a great power within a global civilisation. " FYI, China has been the biggest economic power for centuries... The west only joined the top tier league in the past 300 years... ReportShare5RecommendReply fred the shed 1 day ago Perhaps you missed the "... within a global civilization...." bit? ReportShare9RecommendReply Ali 1 day ago @fred the shed I didn't.... People probably ignored the fact that ancient civilians do communicate with each other... ReportShare1RecommendReply The Sinner 18 hours ago Ali. You have a point and aside from China many cultures are pre-western. ReportShareRecommendReply 1 reply Sofabulous 1 day ago It is an interesting question whether the rise of ignorance - well evidenced by Trump and Brexit - is the beginning of an era of ignorance and consequent decline. Who knows, the institutions of state - such as senators and MPs - even voters (!) or media (!!) - might remember their duty. ReportShareRecommendReply Charles Shillingburg 22 hours ago @Sofabulous Actually, Trump is a sign that we are waking up. ReportShare1RecommendReply Sofabulous 4 hours ago @Charles Shillingburg @Sofabulous It seems that President Tusk agrees: “Thanks to [Trump] we have got rid of all illusions. We realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm. We have to be prepared to act alone.” ReportShareRecommendReply Charles Shillingburg 2 hours ago @Sofabulous @Charles Shillingburg You need to be realistic. Thinking that the US is going to unconditionally underwrite you, at any cost and any consequence, was not realistic in the first place. Also, attributing more to agreements (e.g., Acting on them as though they are Treaties) than they are, is and was not realistic. It appears to me that you all need to better understand our governmental systems and not read into things what you want. For instance, Obama was trying to set a new direction for the US, but the US Congress was not going along with it. Now, you have Trump doing much of the same, and again Congress is not going along with much of it. You all got positively excited about Obama's actions because they coincided with your beliefs of what you wanted the US to do. On the other hand, Trump is going a different direction that is counter to yours, so you are all out of joint. In both cases, they used and are using Presidential /Executive Power that only go so far. ReportShareRecommendReply Nick Antill 1 day ago Capitalist democracy has always been prone to fluctuations and shocks, but its strength results from its flexibility. Adjustment may be very painful but adjustment happens. It is yet to be demonstrated that any alternative works in a modern, sophisticated, economy. The USSR clearly did not. The further China moves towards political autocracy and state control of the economy, the more inflexible, and therefore vulnerable to internal failure, it will probably become. That would be in nobody's interest. ReportShare13RecommendReply Wild Cat 1 day ago From my vantage point outside the West, the West today looks more and more like the USSR, not China. Please read and re-read Mr Wolf's article above until that sinks in, if you really care about the West and global civilisations! ReportShare7RecommendReply commenter1 1 day ago @Nick Antill Clearly Nick hasn't yet tasted loss of his fortune from 'adjustments'. That's beside the point though. Rather, the USSR (despite imperialist blockade) did in fact achieve significant technological and scientific advances. The Chinese economy also now is a powerhouse of R&D, and shows levels of flexibility and vitality that the west can only envy. ReportShare5RecommendReply BeijingRen123 1 day ago @Wild Cat In what ways, the West looks like the USSR? Elaborate please. And where do you reside that affords you a 'vantage' point? It is China that resembles the USSR. Rigidity will kill it, ultimately. ReportShare2RecommendReply M4gr4th34! 1 day ago Bra. Vo. Indeed. Very well written, a pleasure to read, almost worth the year's subscription on its own. The only single point I would contend with is that, in my opinion, however disheveled it might appear (the opinion, that is), the more the US attempts to stymie China's rise, the faster that rise will take place. Thus, the current Trumpian trade tantrums will be viewed historically as corresponding to an uptick in Chinese innovation rates and democratically-tinged diplomatic consolidation of international relationships. But, well written, honestly, a pleasure to read. ReportShare39RecommendReply Niudaxian 1 day ago China will implode itself, as has happened tens of times in its 3000yr history. This is something westerners fail to anticipate. They usually use western model to expect an early riot of the people or the collapse of the regime. When they failed, they turn around to say China will withstand anything, forever maybe. ReportShare4RecommendReply The Sinner 18 hours ago China won’t implode. It has a long history meaning it will survive. Will the ‘country’ survive as a political union - thats always up for discussion. Although that can apply to any country. Tomorrow Trump can send 100 nukes into China and that will end it. Right? Or even a massive super volcano. Implode it can too. All this applies to all countries. ReportShare2RecommendReply Voxpopuli 6 hours ago @The Sinner I think he was referring to the nation state that is China not the nation that is Chinese people and their culture. ReportShareRecommendReply Mafael 1 day ago As history (and present examples) indicate, sheer absolute numbers alone (e.g. "world's biggest economy") do not guarantee strategic, political or military universal influence in the likes of US had over the last decades. Even after the modernisation, steps towards market liberasation and the birth of a middle class that has taken place in China since the late 90's, China still comfortably ranks out of the top 100 in PPP per capita (currently 106th and with output and growth figures of questionable transparency over the last 10 years). The steps and progress that need to be taken domestically in order for China to effectively challenge the West for global dominance are not a couple years away in my opinion - they are rather 30 years away. ReportShare1RecommendReply DBB 1 day ago That might very well be. But remember, when we look at history, even fairly recent history of the 18th and 19th century, 30 years tend to warrant a few pages even in the more detailed accounts when the focus is on the grand scheme of geopolitics rather than the forensic knowledge of specificities. It's a couple of blinks. ReportShare3RecommendReply Concrete 1 day ago "This will not last: as recently as 1990, advanced countries generated 78 per cent of world output at market prices and 64 per cent at purchasing power parity. The west must accept its relative decline or engage in a grossly immoral and probably ruinous struggle to prevent it. That is the most important truth of our era." This is pure defeatism. It is not destiny that the Chinese run this world. But with attitudes like this it might just be. ReportShare8RecommendReply M4gr4th34! 1 day ago @Concrete Defeatism for the US, perhaps. This is a British newspaper. They accepted defeat of their empire a century ago. It matters little who the global hegemon is now. Just, what the impact will be. There's more to life than being number one. ReportShare19RecommendReply Jeff Schulz 1 day ago well, i have to say, MW got a point. maybe more efforts be put to looking at our problems rather than judging others.