Chain-Gang Economics – Walden Bello

From Foreign Policy in Focus:

China’s 8-10% annual growth rate has probably been the principal stimulus of growth in the world economy in the last decade. Chinese imports, for instance, helped to end Japan’s decade-long stagnation in 2003. To satisfy China’s thirst for capital and technology-intensive goods, Japanese exports shot up by a record 44%, or $60 billion. Indeed, China became the main destination for Asia’s exports, accounting for 31% while Japan’s share dropped from 20% to 10%. China is now the overwhelming driver of export growth in Taiwan and the Philippines, and the majority buyer of products from Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Australia.

At the same time, China became a central contributor to the crisis of global overcapacity. Even as investment declined sharply in many economies in response to the surfeit of productive capacity, particularly in Japan and other East Asian economies, it increased at a breakneck pace in China. Investment in China was not just the obverse of disinvestment elsewhere, although the shutting down of facilities and sloughing off of labor was significant not only in Japan and the United States but in the countries on China’s periphery like the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia. China was significantly beefing up its industrial capacity and not simply absorbing capacity eliminated elsewhere. At the same time, the ability of the Chinese market to absorb its own industrial output was limited. [Full Text]

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