China: A Troubled Dragon – Conn Hallinan

From Foreign Policy In Focus (link):

The image of China in the Western press is less the dragon of the Celestial Kingdom than J.R.R Tolkien‘s Smaug, a beast of enormous strength and cunning, ravaging oil markets in Africa, copper ore in South America, and uranium deposits in Australia. “The world begins to feel the dragon’s breath on its back,” intones the Financial Times.

Even dismissing the media’s hyperbole, the creature is impressive. Since 1990, its exports have climbed 1,200%. Each year it turns out twice as many engineers as the United States. Its central bank has $710 billion in currency reserves. Its growth rate was 10.2% last quarter and has averaged 9.8% for the past 12 years. It has the biggest mall in the world.

The capitalist dragon has created great wealth and lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. But the Chinese leadership is discovering a downside to this narrative, one that is generating a growing social crisis for a huge section of the population.

For all its vaunted power, the dragon is troubled.

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