Chen Mingyuan has lived here all his life, but he still gets lost every time he drives into Wenzhou. “All the roads in this town were built by businessmen, so none of them make any sense,” Chen says as we back out of what we just discovered is a one-way street. For the last 30 years, private citizens in this southeastern China metropolis have largely taken over one of the least questioned prerogatives of governments the world over: infrastructure. Is Wenzhou, the richest city in China's richest province, a libertarian paradise?
" Thus in today’s China one confronts the paradox of a communist regime that is at ideological loggerheads with left-leaning intellectuals, but which finds pro-Western, liberal intellectuals on the whole quite congenial." Richard Wolin is Dreaming In Chinese...
"This is an intriguing little video summarizing the hypothesis of a new study by Vamsi Vakulabharanam.
It looks at the puzzle of why China and India are exceptions to the Kuznets curve, that economic development at first increases income inequality but then starts to produce less disparity. But that did not occur in India and China. Vakulabharanam argues that the difference lies in changes in institutional arrangements, and the inflection point was roughly 1980."
We're All State Capitalists Now
'No, according to some commentators, the contest between the two Asian superpowers is also fundamentally a contest between economic models: market capitalism vs. state capitalism.' [more inside]
For China, yesterday marked the Mid-Autumn Festival
, when Chinese at home and abroad gather to worship the Moon Rabbit
, carry paper lanterns, and eat mooncakes
. From its humble beginning as an agitprop-stuffed
pastry, the mooncake has become a strong futures commodity
in the People's Republic. Accordingly, authorities are stepping in; apparently everyone wants a piece
Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend
- "For US manufacturing to make sense, factories must make extensive use of automation. That's getting easier, given that the cost of robots with comparable capabilities has decreased precipitously in the past two decades." [more inside]
You can slog through the video
, but I preferred the transcripts 1
| 5 [more inside]
Adam Smith in Beijing Embedded Flash film 1hr59mins
"Is US power in decline? What are we to make of the rise of China? Will a possible equalization of North-South relations herald a more brutal capitalism or a better world? Giovanni Arrighi
, Joel Andreas
, and David Harvey
give their perspectives in this forum, for a discussion of Arrighi's 2007 book Adam Smith in Beijing
. The event, filmed in Baltimore, MD, in March of 2008, was organized by the Red Emma's collective
"Like the dotcom bubble, the disaster bubble is inflating in an ad-hoc and chaotic fashion."
Journalist Naomi Klein discusses how corporations and governments are working together more closely than ever, using the mandate of catastrophe
— whether natural or man-made — to further concentrate power in fewer hands, with less oversight: from illegal sales of American police technology
to China to avert hypothetical tragedies during the Beijing Olympics, to the privatization of water supplies
in post-tsunami Sri Lanka.
Only China can destroy socialism. Qin Hui
, one of the country's most important public intellectuals, argues "China's rampant state-dominated, welfare-lite capitalism could so undercut competitors that it could threaten the social democratic traditions that underpin the West." [As ever, via.]
The Rise of China and the Future of the West: Can the Liberal System Survive?
"China's rise will inevitably bring the United States' unipolar moment to an end. But that does not necessarily mean a violent power struggle or the overthrow of the Western system. The U.S.-led international order can remain dominant even while integrating a more powerful China -- but only if Washington sets about strengthening that liberal order now." [more inside]
A selection of eyeglasses for $8.
(That's including your lens prescription.) Or if that's not to your liking, there's $39.
Win in China!
A "reality" TV show in China where young would be entrepreneurs compete for a large pile of startup cash to actualize their business ideas. Not everyone is happy about the glorification of capitalism
, of course, and one losing contestant may have committed suicide
, but overall reaction
in China to the show seems positive
. Video clips here (also a full length article by the Atlantic if you have a paid subscription)
Conditions of the Working Classes in China
is an essay that presents a Marxist perspective on the changes taking place in China. The author addresses the tensions between workers and employers, antagonisms between city workers and impoverished migrants from the countryside and the political fights between those who support the moves towards a market economy and those convinced that Mao had it right all along.
Now we're faced with a supposedly democratic
Russia where the opposition parties are established, crushed, united, their leadership changed
, all at the behest of the president. China, now clearly a capitalist state, albeit one without the democratic trimmings
, still calls itself communist
. Vietnam has gone much the same way
Some things remain the same, though. America's still meddling
in Latin America, just like it did during the Cold War
. The US Army is also fighting a guerilla resistance in Iraq, its leaders apparently ignorant of the lessons of history
, yet accusing others of exactly that
. It's just like the 60s, when it was just as obvious who had learnt lessons and who hadn't
China's non-interventionist approach to Africa.
They recently lifted 200 million of their own people out of poverty
. Unlike the G8, they aren't concerned about corruption, aid, debt relief, social impact, human rights, the environment, or spreading democratic ideology
. They build governments, hotels and industrial plants in Sierra Leone, export 60% of oil from the 'genocidal' Sudanese
, sell weapons to both sides in war zones and deal arms to embargoed dictators like Mugabe. They'll be the third largest investor in Africa at the end of this year. The People's Republic of China: threatening
- or Jeffersonian
China engraves capitalism onto its constitution.
This is good development indeed. Although business investment and production has been flourishing in China, doing business there remained very risky because of the fact that private property rights have never been officially legalized. That has changed. The question now is: does economic freedom beget political freedom?