China’s Economic Growth

“China makes goods spanning the entire value chain, on a scale that determines world prices. Hence East Asia’s anxiety. If China is more efficient at everything, what is there left for neighbors to do?”1

This quote was from The Economist in 2001, and it conveys the fears many of China’s neighbors had at the time about China’s growing power. Those countries had previously been the low cost areas for production, and when companies began moving to China the “Tigers” had to adapt their own economies to the changing global circumstances. But I thought it was interesting that the article attributed this fear of China’s efficiency and strength to China’s neighbors but not necessarily to the other developed economies of the world. I think that today, ten years after this article, many Americans are increasingly concerned China is going to outpace not just East Asia but the US as well. At the same time, those ten years have also seen different scandals emerge out of China in terms of the safety of some of the products made there that show, even though the economy is growing rapidly, there are still problem areas China must confront. I think it ultimately comes down to the idea of creativity and ingenuity. Yes, China may become more economically efficient at many things, but if other countries continue to come up with the next big thing, China will always be chasing after them. Will China adapt and become a more creative economy? Will the US and others continue to lament China’s gains while still failing to develop the new technologies and skills that will help them maintain their dominance?

  1. Ho-Fung Hung, China and the Transformation of Global Capitalism. Ho-Fung Hung, ed. (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press), 2009, 12.

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