The Chinese answer to an eternal question. Interview with Sheng Shiliang

Discussion in 'Asia' started by Casper, Feb 9, 2011.

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    China has a disciplined workforce, while Russia possesses researchers and specialists. The Chinese generally improve on existing technology, while Russians have a reputation for innovation and unconventional thinking. It would take decades before Russia and China could become competitors in the global high-tech market, when they both develop into leading manufacturers of high-tech products. Yevgeny Shestakov, host of the Discussion Club, speaks with professor Sheng Shiliang, chief researcher at the Xinhua News Agency’s Center for the Study of Global Challenges, about the prospects of the Chinese economic model as a blueprint for other countries.

    Shestakov: China is developing at an astounding pace. Is your country interested in exerting greater influence on global affairs? Is China interested in becoming a new power center?

    Sheng Shiliang: Yes, China is interested in playing a larger role in global affairs but only as much as other emerging markets, like Russia, India or Brazil. And besides, a country’s influence depends on its overall strength, and in this China still lags behind Russia, the United States and the European Union. We still have a lot to do at home.

    China is pursuing an independent foreign policy so I would say it is already a global power center, like Russia, India and the United States.

    Shestakov: Many people are debating whether the Chinese model can be successful in other counties. Do you believe that other countries should adopt the model, or is it suitable for China only?

    Sheng Shiliang: This may be at odds even with other Chinese analysts, but I don’t think that there is a Chinese model. If there was one, it would be based on certain principles and therefore it could be replicated elsewhere. Rather, what we have in China is a unique set of circumstances: the wise, authoritative and authoritarian Deng Xiaoping; a vast, cheap, undemanding and skilled workforce; a large economy teetering on the brink of a collapse after the death of Mao Zedong, for which even the slightest improvement was a great success. We had rather good relations with Western countries due to our rivalry with the Soviet empire. There were tens of millions of Chinese immigrants in the West who loved their country and invested in it. Finally, the Chinese are brought up with the concept of the golden mean. They value moderation. No country has ever had such a set of happy and unhappy coincidences.

    If we call China’s method of economic development a model, then I can’t say it’s better than “any of its Western counterparts,” as they used to say in Soviet times. This model creates a large number of corrupted servants of the nation, so to speak, and widens the income gap – for example, the elderly in rural communities have to survive on $120 a year. I wouldn’t be proud of a model under which, for example, China imports iron ore at unreasonably high prices, processes it into rolled steel and then sells the steel for a fraction of a cost, polluting its soil, water and air and making only three or four cents per each dollar of the price of the finished product, let alone the anti-dumping claims brought by developed countries. So, our top priority is to change our country’s model of economic development.

    The full version of the interview was published on valdaiclub.com
     

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