In his book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman, a US columnist who has served as a visiting professor at Harvard, sounds a warning about China’s economic growth. According to Friedman, China will very quickly reach a point at which further economic growth will be impossible unless political reform takes place. Without freedom of the press, without healthy public and social institutions, it will be impossible to root out corruption. The economy will be stifled in the absence of an efficient legal system.
Friedman goes on to say that without transparency in government, without a voice for the people’s complaints, there is no way that China will be able to deal with its inevitable future economic decline.
This brings to mind a recent report on views expressed by James Keith, senior adviser for the US State Department’s Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, during a congressional hearing last week titled “What keeps China’s leaders awake at night, and what are US leaders doing in response.” In the report, US officials questioned whether there will come a day when violent mass protests, of which there has been an alarming increase, get out of hand.