China is Like a Raft in Category 5 White Water

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The Politics of Growth
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My model of China in...the boom years, is essentially a raft going down a category 5 white water stream.

The Party
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<p>My model of China in the late 20th and early 21st century, the boom years, is essentially a raft going down a category 5 white water stream where there&rsquo;s an infinite series of boulders and, at the last minute, they&rsquo;ve kept missing them. So far, the biggest boulder they hit, of course, was Tiananmen Square in 1989, and that one set them back quite a bit. But since then, whether it&rsquo;s been dealings with the United States, rural unrest, environmental disaster of the moment, they have dodged instant by instant, and at the last instant, the problems they&rsquo;ve been facing. That is impressive to me if you compare it, for example, with Japan, where there was, for a while, the virtue of quite rigid and coherent and nation-wide system. But, I think, in the 90s they saw some of the drawbacks in that rigidity. So, the relative adaptability of a communist regime has been impressive. Then, just moving back a second, what I view, just thinking about it at this moment, as the &quot;secret&quot; of the Chinese success, is combining a successful part of the preceding East Asian model, which is forced savings, you know, industrial concentration, export growth and all the rest, and combining that with a certain latitude and allowance for chaos, of letting lots of the country essentially be ungoverned, letting people come in and make deals from around the world. So, the combination of control and anarchy, I think, both characterizes China as one observes it now and explains something about its boom.</p>
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James Fallows explains how China's combination of a tried-and-true part of the preceding East Asian model, forced saving, with a tolerance for chaos the "secret" to China's success.