China celebrates — but history is certain to catch up

Today in The Australian

As China’s leaders celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule on Tuesday, the fate of the Soviet ­empire hung like a ghost over the jackboots and missiles parading through the streets of Beijing.

 

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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51 Responses to China celebrates — but history is certain to catch up

  1. Boambee John

    The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, after 74 years. The west, and probably the Soviet leaders, were surprised, but that was because Sovuet economic statistics wrre complied by people afraid to pass the truth up the line.

    Communist China has reached 70 years, and each year has wonderful economic statistics compiled by …

  2. Roger

    The demographic cliff approaches.

  3. stackja

    March on Tienanmen Square reminds of 1989. And 1991 Moscow ‘coup’.

  4. struth

    The soviet union did not have the UN shackling the west, and the west did not have our traitor pollies and public servants complying and dutifully following orders and doing all they can to destroy this disgusting colonialist capitalist white Christian horror story of an anglosphere.
    China lives off of the corruption of the commos in the UN and will continue to grow in strength while our traitor class is subservient to it.
    Unlike Ussr , due to the state of affairs we find ourselves in, China will eventually go down, but not before communist world domination takes the entire planet into a Venezuelan dark ages.
    Please factor in the UN when commenting about this, because our problems are to be found here.
    Without UN compliance by Western traitors, China would still be on bicycles.

  5. Mother Lode

    China has benefited from a widespread disinclination of other nations to respond to them.

    They have been able to fill their coffers with their cheap manufacturing, some underhanded financial tactics, and with stolen IP.

    Not with innovation.

    As some of the rest of the world stirs their advantage will diminish – trade agreements more equitably made and rigorously enforced.

    Depending on how much the rest of the world cooperates with each other, this could be China’s last best moment for whatever they want. As the streams of money begin to slacken they will not be able to afford the belt and road diplomacy and their military expansion.

    It is in their interest, therefore, to stop other wealthy nations cooperating – which at this juncture means to stop them cooperating with the US. If they can play nations against each other then they will reap the benefit – which is possibly why minnows like us, and more especially our political class, warrant the attention, the gifts, the the spectacle, the cloaked warnings, the infiltration of specific institutions etc.

  6. ACTOldFart

    How long before the inevitable massive stock market crash in China? Sooner or later, the foolishness of all those newly-built towns in the middle of nowhere with no-one in them, and those railways from nowhere to nowhere else, will come home to roost.

    No doubt the Comrades will manipulate as hard as they can go to prop things up, but to paraphrase Keynes, the market can stay irrational longer than you can corrupt it.

  7. struth

    Moreover, with China still a small, relatively poor, economy, its trading partners were willing to tolerate its bending of the rules, all the more so in the easing of global tensions that followed the end of the Cold War.

    When Henry can make this lollipop statement more truthful, he’ll get more respect.

    China was allowed to build hundreds of coal power stations while the west had to close theirs down because only western coal causes a climate emergency.
    Thanks to the likes of Guterres and the unelected commos in the UN.

    “Bending the rules”
    FMD.
    If it was cricket, The International Cricket Council would hold the world cup, letting only China participate in the competition, and refusing Australia and England, not only entry to the ground to play, but also entry as spectators, forbid cricket in traditional cricket countries, including indoor cricket, and make Australia send the wickets and shin pads and certainly it’s b a l l s, it would like to play with, to China for their exclusive use.
    When China won the world cup with it’s pre game engraved trophy, the left wing cricket tragics would marvel at just how brilliant China is at cricket, making the expected observation that we , as a nation should never play cricket, because we just don’t have enough population, and if we played, the world would end in violent climate change caused by white men playing with their own red b a l l s.

    Right now the world has forgotten that the USA was always the best cricket nation and their leader , peace be upon him, has decided to run his own game, and the ICC is going insane with fury.
    Australia will stay with the ICC no matter the cost as most of their leaders are being paid off to do so.
    The Australian nation is itching to play in the new one day series like the USA, but their elite cricket snob masters will have none of it.

  8. Speedbox

    Yeah, maybe there are a few ghosts, but there are very few similarities between China and the Soviet Union.

    Both communist, but when Gorbachev became Secretary General, he had a few ideas that eventually opened the door to the collapse of the USSR.

    Glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”) were meant to foster dialogue and introduce a quasi free market but instead of sparking a renaissance, glasnost opened the floodgates of criticism of the Soviet system and the state lost control of the media. In the public sphere, democratic reform gained popularity.

    Perestroika was a disaster as price controls were lifted in some markets, but the bureaucratic structures were left in place. Officials lined their pockets (even more than before) and pushed back against those policies that did not benefit them personally.

    Elsewhere, Hungary dismantled its border fence with Austria and political party Solidarity gained power in Poland. The Baltic states were agitating for towards independence and the Berlin Wall fell.

    There were other factors – including the moribund Soviet economy and even the Soviet involvement if Afghanistan for a decade – but you can be certain that China has studied the collapse of the USSR and will not emulate it.

    Hong Kong is an irritation and the only reason it has not been brutally crushed is because China doesn’t want another ‘Tienanmen Square’ broadcast to the world. But, China will endure and eventually suppress the protesters in HK as to do otherwise opens a Pandora’s box of issues with Taiwan, Macau, South Mongolia, Tibet and others.

    To be clear, China is not to be trusted and their global activities are malevolent. They are certainly not ‘our friend’.

    But any thoughts that they will go the way of the USSR is fantasy. Xi is not Gorbachev.

  9. JB of Sydney/Shanghai

    Here’s some interesting reading, from “World Affairs” I’ll post it in a couple of links..

    CHINA’S GLOBAL LEADERSHIP LIST – CHARTS AND FACTS, 2019
    A vast majority of Americans have absolutely no clue how advanced China has become. Look at the social media comments, and it’s clear that too many Americans – especially Trump supporters – are filled with misinformation and prejudice. “China is 100 years behind” … “All Chinese products are crap” … “China can’t innovate” … “It’s a communist, poor, polluted country” … and, of course, the most popular theme is “China’s economy is about to collapse.” It’s hard to change these opinions, since those people reinforce their biases by gleefully consuming and sharing only anti-China articles. Anything remotely positive about China is attacked as “Chinese propaganda.”

    This potent mix of ignorance and hubris is also precisely why western corporations gladly and voluntarily shared their intellectual property (IP) with their Chinese joint-venture partners. The term “forced technology transfer” was invented retroactively only after Chinese corporations started threatening western profits — for example: Huawei has overtaken Apple, Nokia and Ericsson in smartphones, 5G and telecom infrastructure; BYD manufactures more electric vehicles than Tesla; Alibaba and Tencent process 50x more mobile payments than the US; and the most valuable (ByteDance) and the most innovative (Meituan) startups are Chinese.

    While it’s true that China as whole has a long way to go in GDP-per-capita, many big cities in China are essentially “developed economies.” Plus, China has surpassed the US in many areas and is catching up in others.

    If you don’t know your competitor, you’re certain to lose the game. So here are some quick statistics on China’s global leadership:

    Economy, Manufacturing, Trade

    => #1 in PPP GDP (been so since 2014 when it surpassed the US)

    #1 PPP GDP

  10. struth

    If you don’t know your competitor, you’re certain to lose the game. So here are some quick statistics on China’s global leadership:

    See post above.
    If you competitor is playing in a game your are barred from playing, how the fuck can you call him a competitor?

  11. JohnL

    African Swine Feaver
    Maybe a divine intervention?

  12. JB

    A vast majority of Americans have absolutely no clue how advanced China has become. Look at the social media comments, and it’s clear that too many Americans – especially Trump supporters – are filled with misinformation and prejudice. “China is 100 years behind” … “All Chinese products are crap” … “China can’t innovate” … “It’s a communist, poor, polluted country” … and, of course, the most popular theme is “China’s economy is about to collapse.” It’s hard to change these opinions, since those people reinforce their biases by gleefully consuming and sharing only anti-China articles. Anything remotely positive about China is attacked as “Chinese propaganda.”

    There are eerie parallels with Japan in the late 30’s, down to the trade wars.
    Both China and Japan were attempting to create their own Empires based on their own perceived superiority.
    Both were dishonest actors on the world stage – demanding the rest of the world live up to rules neither country is prepared to do themselves.
    Both feel insecure due to their lack of guaranteed access to raw materials at prices they would prefer to pay. Both treat their own citizens as economic units with no rights to speak of.
    …and both have a disarmed populace.

  13. Both feel insecure due to their lack of guaranteed access to raw materials at prices they would prefer to pay. Both treat their own citizens as economic units with no rights to speak of.
    …and both have a disarmed populace.

    Sounds a bit like Australia.

  14. rickw

    How many more will die before Communist China fizzles out?

  15. stackja

    Liberty Quote
    In the long run even the most despotic governments with all their brutality and cruelty are no match for ideas. Eventually the ideology that has won the support of the majority will prevail and cut the ground from under the tyrants feet. Then the oppressed many will rise in rebellion and overthrow their masters.

    — Ludwig von Mises

  16. JB of Sydney/Shanghai

    If you don’t know your competitor, you’re certain to lose the game. So here are some quick statistics on China’s global leadership:

    See post above.
    If you competitor is playing in a game your are barred from playing, how the fuck can you call him a competitor?

    Struth, I think I know where you are coming from.
    However, if Australia is too stupid to build dams, coal or nuclear power stations, good roads, Internet, etc. and to have useless politicians and bureaucrats, is that the fault of China? Or of all of us who let our country, be ruined? Whoever said Australia is a first class country run by second rate people was very close to the mark.

  17. Bruce of Newcastle

    Logical next step from the Party:

    Hong Kong to ban face masks in protest crackdown

    The Hong Kong government will soon ban the face masks worn by protesters by invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, a law introduced by the British colonial government in 1922 to combat strikes in the city.

    Cute of them to blame the Poms for the law they are using. With the massive increase in CCTV surveillance, facial recognition software and the social credit system there’s been a rise in mask use. So it was pretty clear what the authorities would do.

    Face masks to decoy t-shirts: The rise of anti-surveillance fashion (1 Oct)

    Jewelry to avoid facial recognition cameras (7 Sep)

  18. Bruce of Newcastle

    Logical next step from the Party:

    Hong Kong to ban face masks in protest crackdown

    The Hong Kong government will soon ban the face masks worn by protesters by invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, a law introduced by the British colonial government in 1922 to combat strikes in the city.

    Cute of them to blame the Poms for the law they are using. With the massive increase in CCTV surveillance, facial recognition software and the social credit system there’s been a rise in mask use. So it was pretty clear what the authorities would do.

    Face masks to decoy t-shirts: The rise of anti-surveillance fashion (1 Oct)

    J_welry to avoid facial recognition cameras (7 Sep)

  19. Dr Fred Lenin

    Cut off trade with them and watch the whole edifice crumble as famil lotalty throws party loyalty under a bus . Communism is an alien concept to Chinese its family first with them always has been . The surplus obama let them run on has created the huge armed forces they now have . Sarve them of surpluses and see how they perform ,they have created millions od economic aspirants with the surpluses mand they are not going back to the villages and a bowl if rice a day .

  20. Bruce of Newcastle

    Sorry for the double, got caught out by the J word.

  21. Iampeter

    Struth, with friends like you the West doesn’t need enemies.
    You can’t be a capitalist and a Christian, anymore than you could be a capitalist and a socialist.
    Or a capitalist and a nationalist…

    Until conservatives figure this stuff out they will continue to represent the useful idiots that communist regimes, like China and NK, need to help them survive.

  22. mh

    You can’t be a capitalist and a Christian

    Iampeter, can you be a capitalist and a Jew?

  23. mh

    You can’t be a capitalist and a Christian

    What about a capitalist and a Joo?

  24. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    The US should null and void all of the trillion of China’s bonds as compensation for the relentless theft of state and trade secrets.

  25. Viva

    News from your Shanghai correspondent:

    Chinese people are too busy shopping to mount a revolution.

  26. Delcon

    The Left:
    “We have a wonderful idea. It is called Communism, and it must replace Capitalism to create a wonderful economic arrangement which will make everybody in society prosperous and happy! But we will need first to have a little revolution thingy in order to replace the government and put in power a totalitarian one-party system to implement this happy new world. OK, guys?”
    Then, the Left:
    “Oops, looks like this Communism thing doesn’t work. We will replace it now with Capitalism. Oh, by the way, we still keep that one-party system thingy. OK, guys?”

  27. Tim Neilson

    You can’t be a capitalist and a Christian

    Why not?

    [Sits back, gets out popcorn, and waits for Iamashiteater to self-beclown yet again]

  28. Iampeter

    You can’t be a capitalist and a Christian

    Why not?

    Same reason you can’t be a capitalist and a socialist.

  29. JB of Sydney/Shanghai

    Viva,

    an astute observation on Shanghai/shopping.

    Most people have little interest in revolution when they are busy working out what to buy next.

    No urge to man the barricades when your wallet is full, and there are new cars and toys to buy.

    Have you checked out Nanjing Road , Huaihai Road and Pudong yet?

  30. Tim Neilson

    Same reason you can’t be a capitalist and a socialist.

    Poor old Iamashiteater. Mr ignorant conceited arseclown is once again caught out saying something utterly false and his only defence is to double down on the falsehood.
    What an utterly risible and pathetic failure.

  31. Getting impatient

    Struth,
    No one is barring Australians to develop their own 5G technology or their own mobile phone innovations.

    I can sense that some of you here still have that fear of “yellow peril”.

    I recommend to some of you to read the South China Morning Posts to get a better understanding of what’s happening in that part of the world. SCMP has some great news analysts.

    The Chinese civilisation was considered the first civilisation. The Chinese were inventing something and developing mathematics when European societies were still centered at caves. No one should be surprised if the Chinese try to regain their brilliance in the modern age. Besides, Chinese or East Asians are known to have higher IQs than other people, so they’re capable of doing something.

    I am an Australian but I don’t side with anyone just because…..

    The west, especially the U.S. have been very interfering with the affairs of other nations, getting involved in wars, wars after wars. Acting like they’re the moral arbiter of other nations. Maybe the western ways are the more upright ways. But if, for example, the Mid Easterners want to shape their societies the way they want to and kill each other in the process, in my opinion, they should be left alone, unless they want to overrun the west or there’s a clear , real threat to the west. As we now knew some wars were created by the west.

    I don’t know that the Chinese, at present, are as interfering with other countries as the west.

  32. Chris M

    I didn’t see a single happy face.

    What is China trying to project to the rest of the world? This is the stuff China stands for? Where are the citizens? Where are the children? The people having fun? Are their only achievements of merit weapons of war (copied largely from the West I might add)?

    It’s sad actually. China could be a great country, the people deserve it. This display is just grim.

  33. Venice was both Catholic and capitalist. Some people have no idea but are driven egotism.

  34. TFX

    One component of the debate missing in the rise of China has been that no one has answered the Needham question. People may ask what the Needham question is but he was a British Communist sympathising academic who put together the first and still the most comprehensive review of Chinese technological advancement.

    The simple bottom line is that China and the Roman Empire were technological equals and after the collapse of Rome China was the world technological leader until the year 1500 (a time chosen by Needham and not completely arbitrary) and then was in stagnation as a technological leader for the next half millennium. The Needham question was why was there such a difference and I am not aware of anyone coming up with an answer.

    Even in the current world China is in catch up mode and not at the forefront of technology.

    An interesting question as to why they were so good for over a millennium and so bad half a millennium.

  35. Fisky

    Most people have little interest in revolution when they are busy working out what to buy next.

    Why the hell would anyone in Shanghai oppose the status quo?? What a weird statement. The question is, how did the PRC manage to destroy HK, XJ, send Taiwan packing forever, and still have apologists on a “libertarian” site supporting them???

  36. Iampeter

    What Fisky means to say is that he has no problem with the CCP. They are a “strong” political party. They “get things done.”
    The only issue for conservatives is that the CCP doesn’t allow superficial aspects of Christianity.

    And I’m not even going to get into the Great Savior of Western Civilization who is fighting a leftist trade war with China, congratulating them on the 70th anniversary of their communist regime.
    Talk about apologists…

  37. struth

    Struth, I think I know where you are coming from.
    However, if Australia is too stupid to build dams, coal or nuclear power stations, good roads, Internet, etc. and to have useless politicians and bureaucrats, is that the fault of China? Or of all of us who let our country, be ruined? Whoever said Australia is a first class country run by second rate people was very close to the mark.

    This is correct.
    However my point remains that you seem to put China’s temporary success down to the brilliant Chinese and I am saying that being communist, they have at their disposal, the entire UN communist corruptocrat enablers that are doing all they can to make it happen.
    If the west immediately pulled out of the UN, how do you think China would go then?
    The point being that we are not doing it to ourselves, a minority of our population, traitorous left wing arsehole political class is, and without their help China would be up shit creek.
    And our voting system is cook and the Liberals are traitors, not doing what their voters want.
    The Chinese are far from brilliant, they are arrogant little fuckers generally speaking, and whatever they were a couple of thousand years ago, they are not now.
    If you are Chinese, with the help from the entire globe’s left wing morons, how could you go wrong?

    Just one right wing president in the white house is showing us all just how easy communism can crumble when the corruption is stopped and the playing field is to be fair.

    Getting impatient………………….

    Struth,
    No one is barring Australians to develop their own 5G technology or their own mobile phone innovations.

    I can sense that some of you here still have that fear of “yellow peril”.

    I can sense an aloof academic.

    The Chinese civilisation was considered the first civilisation. The Chinese were inventing something and developing mathematics when European societies were still centered at caves. No one should be surprised if the Chinese try to regain their brilliance in the modern age. Besides, Chinese or East Asians are known to have higher IQs than other people, so they’re capable of doing something.

    I am an Australian but I don’t side with anyone just because…..

    So much wong here, er , wrong.
    Er, “regaining their brilliance”, what absolute tosh.
    Did you say that bending over?

    If you require corruption to get ahead, how brilliant is that?

    Maybe you consider totalitarianism brilliant too?

    It’s a communist regime, FFS, could we see you denounce that here?
    There’s nothing brilliant about it.

    And when we are all dirt poor Veneztralia, will you still be Australian?
    In this world, you may not wish to side with Australia “just because” but you might consider where you live and the consequences that may be in store for you and your kids if we don’t demand a level playing field, because I’m guessing you’re Australian and not Chinese, although I wouldn’t put money on it.

    The west, especially the U.S. have been very interfering with the affairs of other nations, getting involved in wars, wars after wars. Acting like they’re the moral arbiter of other nations.

    Anti Yank leftism again.
    Which country’s wars did they involve themselves in, that did not beg for their help, or was not for the betterment and freedom of humanity?

    Have you considered integrity as an option?
    To say the millions living under totalitarian dictatorships and in their re education camps “want it” and should be left alone , not to mention those millions that died in it’s revolution and birth, reeks of apologist leftism and weakness against a regime you probably admire.

    What do you see as the future if we leave things the way they are?

    Oh, and Iampoyda, you’re a religious vacant and a political wet dreamer
    Fuck off, you’ve embarrassed yourself here enough.

  38. struth

    Maybe the western ways are the more upright ways. But if, for example, the Mid Easterners want to shape their societies the way they want to and kill each other in the process, in my opinion, they should be left alone, unless they want to overrun the west or there’s a clear , real threat to the west. As we now knew some wars were created by the west.

    Hong Kong?!

  39. Iampeter

    Just one right wing president in the white house is showing us all just how easy communism can crumble when the corruption is stopped and the playing field is to be fair.

    By implementing leftist tariffs and helping cripple America’s economy?
    By claiming Xi is a good man in a “tough job?”
    By congratulating the CCP on it’s 70th anniversary?

    I mean, you LITERALLY have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Fuck off, you’ve embarrassed yourself here enough.

    I think you need to take your own advice…

  40. mh

    Iampeter, can you be a capitalist and a J ew?

    Iampeter has no answer.

    Very telling.

  41. Fisky

    Iampeter you are a 5th year uni student doing a 3-year degree, not a “capitalist”. Shush!

  42. Iampeter

    Iampeter you are a 5th year uni student doing a 3-year degree, not a “capitalist”. Shush!

    LOL! This from the guy who believes politics is “what people can grab at any given time, using whatever justification suits.”

    What depth and profundity! You’re totally a capitalist!
    You don’t at all sound literally like Mao. Or Stalin. Or any other far-left authoritarian.

    Get outta here with this crap.

  43. Fisky

    You’re an autistic weirdo Iampeter. Beep boop!

  44. Iampeter

    Whatever you say oh raving crackpot who got lost on his way to VoxDay’s blog.

  45. anonandon

    You can’t be a capitalist and a Christian

    I think you can. Why do you think you can’t? Which of Jesus’ teachings state this?

  46. Iampeter

    Why do you think you can’t? Which of Jesus’ teachings state this?

    Christian teachings are altruistic. It teaches that the purpose of your life is to sacrifice for others. This is incompatible with capitalism.
    Capitalism is the economic system of egoists. It’s the system for people that believe the purpose of your life is to live it to the best of your ability and leave others alone to do likewise.
    We don’t produce, invest, trade, for others. We do it for ourselves.
    To a consistent Christian, capitalists are sinners.

  47. Anonandon

    Absolute piffle. What about the parable of the talents and his position on Roman taxation. Christianity advocates helping the poor and downtrodden, not being one yourself.

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