Monday, April 25, 2005

Becker and Posner on China

Gary Becker and Richard Posner, two of the finest economic minds thinking about general issues have started a blog. Their recent posts include some thoughts on China's economic future and whether linear projections of its current trajectory are warranted. Both argue for considerable scepticism. The posts by Becker and Posner are worth reading in the original, the arguments range too widely to permit of an easy summary here.

Hu Jintao and Reform

Today's Washington Post reports that China's Hu Jintao has no interest in reforming the Chinese political system, let alone democratizing it. In recent months he has arrested writers, fired an academic critic, called for increased "ideological education" in universities and taken "steps to close regulatory loopholes that have allowed independent, nongovernmental organizations to develop in China" which indicates a hostility to any autonomy on the part of Chinese civil society. When you add to this the passage of the "anti-secession" law aimed at Taiwan and the recent bullying of Japan, the picture that emerges is indeed that of an "ultimate product of the system" as described in the piece by a "party academic"(!). To those of us familiar with Hu's uncompromisingly repressive record as Party Secretary in Tibet, this does not come as a surprise, but it is useful to see a new narrative which corrects the fan mail Hu collected in the aftermath of the SARS crisis as well as the more general optimistic narrative that views a "peaceful evolution" of the Chinese political system as an inevitability. I critiqued an example of the latter here.