GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: Can China reinvent itself? by Giles Chance, author of "China and the Credit Crisis: The Emergence of a New World Order."
If a Chinese person who died in 1980 was to revisit China today, what would surprise him most? Would it be the highway system and the fact that today, most cars in China are driven by private individuals? Would it be the Chinese digital mobile network, or the I-Pad? I suspect it would be none of these things. I think that what would astonish our recent ancestors most would be the variety of food on display in Chinese supermarkets (of course, there were no Chinese supermarkets in 1980), and the quantity of food that Chinese families eat every day.
But if we were to return to China in thirty years’ time from today – in 2041 - would we be as amazed as our ancestor of 1980? The Chinese economy finds itself in 2011 at a crossroads, as China continues to struggle with the inflationary after-effects of its huge post-crisis spending package, and as the Chinese Government attempts to rebalance China’s and the world economy by switching growth away from exports towards domestic demand. In its eastern provinces, China has reached middle-income status. Many of the countries reaching this intermediate level of economic development stagnate. And China faces an increasing economic headwind from an aging population, aggravated by the legacy of China’s one-child policy.