How strong is China's growth?

BRIC Countries: China

One in every five people in the world lives in communist China. Unlike other BRIC countries, the Chinese lack representative government, the rule of law administered by independent judges, basic human rights, freedom of the media, independent universities and the right of workers to move freely. Even the constitution makes clear that the government has no limits or accountability to the Chinese people.

China began its experiment of mixing explosive free-market economics with totalitarian control and repression in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping took power.

Free markets thrive when a country guarantees property rights and the rule of law. China possesses neither of these.

After having been purged once by Mao and a second time by the Gang of Four, Deng did not deify Mao. Rather he declared the leader to be "seven parts good, three parts bad." Understanding that Chinese Marxism needed to be reinterpreted to allow market forces, Deng argued that "socialism does not mean shared poverty." His most famous quote clarifies his utilitarian nature: "I don't care if it's a white cat or a black cat. It's a good cat so long as it catches mice."

Deng abandoned centralized planning and protected the unrestricted flow of goods throughout the country. The resulting competition between provinces led to significant growth in China's standard of living. Unlike Gorbachev, who tried to institute his own reforms in the top-down approach of perestroika, Deng simply allowed freedom at the bottom. Then he sanctioned and took credit for whatever reforms worked.

Much of China's innovation has been an investment in infrastructure. The country is spending about 12% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on infrastructure, which accounts for 43% of emerging market investments. Greater investment in infrastructure reduces the cost of moving goods and allows freer trade within the country. Estimates suggest that a 1% increase in a country's infrastructure boosts its GDP by 1%.

So the resulting economic growth in China has been explosive. But containing an explosion is difficult if not impossible.

Free markets thrive when a country guarantees property rights and the rule of law. China possesses neither of these. All land is state owned and can only be leased. The state also owns the banks, either directly or indirectly. A majority of judges are retired military officers and directed by the party. As a result, enforcement of contracts is impossible. Party officials are effectively police, prosecutor, judge and jury for any case of importance.

Currently China is ranked 52.8% free, "mostly unfree," in the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom. Although it ranks 126 out of 157 countries, China does place highest among the communist countries, beating Vietnam, Laos, Cuba and North Korea.

Freeing selective market forces produces impressive economic gains until bottlenecks in the existing monuments to centralized power hinder progress. Without a free press and working court system, the resulting internal totalitarian monopoly of economics can't be called capitalism. As a result, most of China's growth stems from its participation in free-trade agreements.

Thanks to China's growth, it will pass the U.S. economy in the near future. But because of its huge population, its average citizens will still be economically poor by American standards. And they will be politically destitute.

Investments in China

If you are thinking of investing in China, be careful; because the lack of economic freedom there makes investments very risky.  Many want to participate in the booming Chinese economy.  They don't want to miss out on the huge profits they have heard will be made over the next decade.

However, over time it has been shown that countries with the most  economic freedom provide a greater sustainable growth and better  business environment than centrally controlled economies.
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