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    Only some cats catch mice

    Take a look at this Reuters report on economic dislocations in the PRC. (Links disappear from Reuters fairly quickly, so I’m citing quite a bit):

    The leadership in Beijing is deeply concerned there could be a wider backlash, threatening a decade of strong economic growth and the Communist Party’s grip on power, says Wenran Jiang, a China expert at the University of Alberta.

    “They have come to the conclusion that … the regime will not survive if they don’t address the growing wealth gap, and more importantly, the perception that the government only cares about economic growth and the urban rich,” he said.

    When China’s late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping ignited the country’s market reforms in the late 1970s, he espoused a trickle-down approach, saying: “Let some people get rich first.”

    Some have become gloriously rich. Next week, the Hurun Report, which tracks China’s wealthy, will issue its 7th annual China Rich List on which the average wealth for the richest top 400 is about $200 million. Seven are billionaires.

    To be sure, tens of millions of people have been lifted out of abject poverty since the party came to power 56 years ago. [How’s that for setting your time frame conveniently!–SRK]

    But the wealthiest 10 percent of China’s urban households now own 45 percent of the urban wealth while the poorest 10 percent have less than 1.4 percent, Chinese statistics show.

    Reporter John Ruwitch has a strange way of departing from the quotation from the University of Alberta’s Jiang. Jiang all but says outright that the CCP is primarily concerned with retaining power and that the benefits of economic growth to the Chinese people are little more than means to that end. Ruwitch makes some vague statements about attempts at relief that, combined with his human-interest portraits of desperately poor people living hard-scrabble lives in the booming coastal cities, make today’s PRC regime look like a bunch of well-meaning public servants saddled with unworkable twenty-year-old reforms and trying as hard as they can to patch holes wherever possible. Unfortunately, when you encourage entrepreneurship without providing reliable enforcement of contracts, protection of intellectual property, punishment for corruption, and other niceties of the rule of law, you cannot be surprised when many of the enterprises you’re facilitating are exploitative.

    BTW, speaking of the rule of law, Simon has been following the case of a group of villagers who entertained the fantasy that elected officials in the New China are supposed to be accountable to their constituents. They know better now. The story’s been developing for a while, but it’s worth reading from beginning to end.

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