Monday, May 20, 2019

A history of China over the past four decades - Yasheng Huang interview

This is just such a brilliant interview of Yasheng Huang, summarising his earlier book. It is about 105 minutes long, but worth all the time. 

It has several insights about China's growth over the past four decades - there is nothing unique about Chinese state capitalism; the competitive market-led entrepreneurship, especially from rural areas (the TVEs), trumps the state-led growth that has been praised by western scholars as an example of capitalism with Chinese characteristics; the comparison between Shanghai's state-led capitalism (Pudong as an illustration of wealth theft from rural areas) and Shenzhen's entrepreneurial capitalism; comparative examples of the two models from regions in China that show how the latter model trumps; how the bureaucrats stifle entrepreneurial growth by favouring state enterprises over private entrepreneurs in channeling credit; how Alibaba struggled in Shanghai and had to go to one of the more entrepreneurial provinces to stabilise its model and make big; the model has survived the crises it has faced only because it could export its way out and because of the opportunity presented by real-estate development led economic boost; the Chinese leaders see innovation and technology as the next growth booster; why Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang are the best Chinese leaders; how Hu Jintao and Weng Jiabao rescued the country from the deep agrarian crisis of the nineties; since the nineties there has been a shift towards state-capitalism and away from entrepreneurial rural capitalism, a trend which has accelerated since Xi Jinping took over; the largest private enterprises of today are those with deep networks not just to the party but also important party officials; why he's called a left-wing intellectual in the US and a right-wing one in China; how the growth of recent years has been brought about by debt-fuelled investments and why it is unsustainable; why India's post-crisis response was more effective than that of China; why it is incorrect to compare India and China and proclaim the superiority of benign autocracies; why countries like China and India need not dress up excessively to attract foreign investors, unlike smaller countries; the importance of state in human resource development and in creating other enabling conditions for capitalism to flourish; why President Trumps's actions on the trade-front demanding China opening up may be good for China in rolling back the march of state-led capitalism; and so on.

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