Victor Shih Recommends Five Books on China’s Economy

Five recently featured recommended reading from political economist Victor Shih on the topic of China’s economy:

It’s good that you’re covering this topic. Wherever we are in the world, we all now need to understand the Chinese economy.

Yes, and especially some of its more sceptical aspects. Exports from China are still huge. It grew faster than almost any country in the world in 2009 and 2010. A recent calculation suggests its GDP has surpassed the United States on a purchasing power parity basis. But there are weaknesses in the Chinese economy that the educated reader needs to know about.

What do people get most wrong when they think of the Chinese economy?

The biggest misperception about China is that it’s a dynamic market economy – it isn’t. It’s a fast-growing, state-dominated economy with some dynamic, private-market aspects. If you look at investment, a main driver of growth, much of it is going to (SOEs) or shareholding companies dominated by state entities. Or it’s going directly to government investments carried out at a central or local level. The misperception has abated recently following Richard McGregor’s book on the Chinese Communist Party. People are realising that the party is still behind much of what happens in China.

Selections from Evan Osnos on a broad range of China-related reading, Richard Baum on obstacles to reform in China and Xinran on understanding China have been featured on CDT in the past. Other instalments available in the archives cover popular protest in China, China’s place in the global economy, Uyghur nationalism, the country’s environmental crisis and more.



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