The conventional wisdom, propagated by senior businessmen, pundits, and policy makers, holds that the 21st century is China’s for the taking, says Carew. He reflects on a book by Carl E. Walter and Fraser J.T. Howie who argue that China isn’t immune from normal economic laws as its cheerleaders argue. Scratch the surface and China’s economic model is less impressive than it looks. The authors discuss unacknowledged bad loans piling up within China’s system (implying that leaders have misallocated capital), and put its public debt at 76% of GDP. With an aging population and a weak social safety net, China cannot afford a banking crisis in the next decade. If and when one comes, Beijing could regret not creating a more resilient, genuinely capitalist market.
Carew is a former Asia M&A reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
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