Não haverá grande crescimento, ou grande crise, na China, mas grande
estagnação. Essa é visão de dois especialistas para a revista americana
The National Interest. A conferir, cuidadosamente...
sobre isso, rapidamente: assim como tivemos a Guerra Fria, não com a
vitória americana, mas com a derrota imposta a si mesma pela
autoimplosão soviética, teremos uma longa guerra fria econômica entre o
Ocidente capitalista e a China semicapitalista. A China, como a URSS, poderá
se autoimplodir econômicamente, por erros sucessivos na gestão
econômica, o que recomenda ao Ocidente a mesma política recomendada por
George Kennan no começo da Guerra Fria geopolítica: uma nova política de
contenção geoeconômica, para ajudar o povo chinês a sobreviver à
ditadura do PCC. Mas pode ocorrer o surgimento de um Putin à la chinesa
(o mesmo Xi Jinping?), que pretenda enfrentar o Ocidente com gestos
hostis e não cooperativos.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida
China's Great Stagnation
DAN BLUMENTHAL and DEREK M. SCISSORS
The National Interest
China's economy is stalling. The most likely economic scenario over the
course of the next decade is not high growth or an economic collapse, but
stagnation. If this occurs, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will have
difficulty sustaining its ambitious national development and strategic plans.
In particular, Beijing will not be able to avoid a more serious "guns v.
This has sharp implications for American policy. Most importantly, while the US certainly has its own structural problems,
it is far wealthier and more powerful than China, and that gap
may actually grow or at least hold, rather than shrink. The dominant Sino-US
relations paradigm of a declining power managing a rising power is inaccurate.
A truer depiction of the Sino-American relationship is that China is a capable
great power seeking to compete with US primacy in Asia, much as Russia has
become a US rival in Europe and the Middle East, while Iran challenges American
interests in the Persian Gulf. To attribute to China the capability to "overtake"
the US or compete with it globally—or to describe the power dynamics as a
"power transition" from Washington to Beijing—is at best premature.
Because the bilateral relationship contains cooperative elements, it
would be better for American interests for China to return to market-based
reforms, both to spur global economic growth and to stabilize Sino-American
relations. However, this is unlikely in the medium term. And given the
combustible mix in China of less stability at home and foreign policy adventurism
abroad, Washington needs to more strongly resist destabilizing Chinese actions.
It should reorient US strategy based on the long-term leverage created by
likely Chinese stagnation and the enduring power gap.
There are three views of China's economic trajectory: (1) it is slowing,
but also transforming into a healthier and very large economy; (2) it is
stagnating; or (3) a true economic crisis is inevitable in the not-too-distant
future. The preponderance of evidence is for stagnation.
Both the China (still) rising and crash scenarios are fundamentally
flawed. While their ranks thin and their version of
success is watered down every year, there are still "bulls" who see
China as a future economic success story. This view is based not on current
analysis but on a combination of history—the People's Republic of China (PRC)
in 1978 and 1992 did indeed rise under worse circumstances—and the ensuing
faith that pro-market reform will either be chosen by the Communist Party or be
forced upon it.
Reform forced on the party by some sort of crisis may indeed be the best
hope, since the party voluntarily choosing pro-market reform at this point is
highly unlikely. The much-hyped 2013 Third Plenary session did not in fact offer a sound set of
reform proposals. For example, it promoted cooperation between the public and
private sectors when the exact opposite is needed. Unsurprisingly, no net progresstoward the market has been made
since. And few bulls would be able to endorse the economy purely on the basis
of the present explosion of debt, weakening demographics, depleted natural
resources, and other objective indicators.
The economic and financial crash argument has a more specific problem:
it mistakenly treats the troubled Chinese financial system as similar to the American system.
Commercial financial systems in rich countries may be only as strong as their
weakest link, but Chinese finance is dominated by the state. Its primary function is to serve state
interests, not to make money. Noncommercial financial systems are only as weak
as their strongest link because governments can, without legal or political
delay, order the strongest institutions to save the weakest. The cost, of
course, is an enormous amount of waste.
Preeminence nor Collapse - The Stagnation Case
To understand why stagnation is likely, first consider other countries.
While the categories are not well-defined, far more economies rise out of poverty
than become truly rich. This is sometimes referred to as the middle-income
In the postwar era, the most impressive economic success stories are in
East Asia, which bodes well. However, in comparison with the world as a whole,
Japan became rich before World War II, and much of its growth
during 1946–1990 was a return to the status quo. Hong Kong and Singapore are mere
cities, while Taiwan's population is about the same as Shanghai's. The
structure of these microeconomies is fundamentally different than China's
economy, and they hardly demonstrate that the PRC can become rich.
In contrast, the middle-income trap has not been kind to large nations.
Only one country with a population over 30 million has become rich for the
first time in the postwar era: South Korea. A long list of countries that have
not gone beyond middle-income, from Argentina to Thailand. It would not be surprising if
Chinese cities the size of Singapore had income levels similar to France. It
would be astonishing for the PRC as a whole to match French income, much more
astonishing than what it has accomplished to date.
Second, evaluate Chinese growth. The government continues to report
comparatively rapid gains in gross domestic product (GDP) and will do so
indefinitely. But official statistics are not a reliable indicator of how the
economy is doing. Information control is a vital tool for the party, and economic
information is obviously a sensitive component. Purported GDP receives the most
attention but is wildly overrated as a measure of success.
GDP per person is close to meaningless; it is purely an accounting device that
cannot be spent or invested. In terms of what people actually have in their
pockets, China reported disposable income per person equivalent
to $3,400 at the end of 2015, less than one-tenth of the US.
China "bulls" typically claim that, while the PRC is poorer
than the US, it continues to catch up—yet possibly not, according to Credit Suisse, which reports
net private wealth figures for all major economies. From the end of 2011 to the middle of 2015,
Chinese net private wealth grew 19 percent. American net private wealth grew 43
percent. The two countries' public sectors are harder to measure, but China's
debt performance over this period is atrocious, approximately 40 percent is
attributable to state corporates, and their share is rising.
Nor is all of this a blip. The PRC's economic weakness did not appear in
2015, as some seem to think. It did even not begin
with the 2008 financial crisis. It began in 2003. From 1978 to 2002, several
waves of partial pro-market reform created a new economic powerhouse. In 2003,
the new government under Hu Jintao decided state-owned banks lending to state-owned
enterprises (SOEs) should continue to constitute the core of the economy,
employing large numbers of people and otherwise serving the party's aims. Fresh
market-oriented reforms were soon displaced by soaring publicly directed
The National Bureau of Statistics reported
investment growth jumped from 12 percent in 2001 to more than 26 percent in
2003, more than four-fifths by state-controlled enterprises. Investment growth
then exceeded 25 percent annually for the next nine years, doubling the pace of
official GDP—the huge imbalance between investment and consumption is not
endemic but rather was created starting in late 2002. After a four-year boom, the
economy began to hiccup. It was no longer greater productivity from market
reform driving the numbers but increasing dependence on foreign
consumption to buy the goods ultimately produced.
The global financial crisis was a double blow. Foreign demand plummeted.
And on top of the previous public investment surge, Beijing conducted arguably
history's biggest stimulus through state-run banks. Loans grew 32 percent in 2009 alone, even as
profit opportunities vanished. At this point the stagnation path became clearly