China: a review of two important new articles.

Author:Rogers, Amb. Joe
Position:Critical essay

These complementary articles explore China's growing influence and economic power and its willingness to use that new strength to project itself both economically and diplomatically.

Dr. Keidel, a former director of the Office of East Asian Nations at the U. S. Treasury and senior economist in the World Bank's Beijing office, holds a Ph.D. from Harvard. A visiting scholar at Carnegie, Mr. Kurlantzick is a special correspondent for the New Republic and covered Southeast Asia and China for publications including U. S. News and World Report and The Economist.

In "Assessing China's Economic Rise," Keidel admirably summarizes the economic history of China since its liberalization began in 1978, although with too heavy an emphasis on the public sector and neglect of the entrepreneurs, who have driven economic success.

Emphasizing the place of domestic-oriented economic expansion in China's rapid growth, he rightly points out that "the dominant foundations of China's [economic] rise are clearly domestic." He links this to developments in the political system, public investment, and the financial system

Keidel cites the quality of the Chinese leadership, which has maintained a "developmentoriented ideology" and the "ability to promote capable individuals," and has established a "system of collaborative policy review." He also credits the leadership's concentration on public infrastructure as paving the way for private economic activity.

In "Charm Offensive," Kurlantzick summarizes his book of the same title, wherein he explores China's use of soft power, which to the Chinese "means all power outside of the military sphere, including diplomacy, aid, investment, and economic tools."

Kurlantzick emphasizes China's focus on countries and regions where it avoids competition with the United States or Japan and where international sanctions or economic or security situations deter Western business. This is closely linked to the appeal of the Chinese model to other authoritarian regimes.

In part this offensive reflects the Chinese need for resources. With the exception of Australia, where China has become an investor to the point of raising...

To continue reading