So how well has China's economic planning worked?: Ask the Chinese

The WSJ has this:

. . . One speaker from South Africa breathlessly described the Chinese economic system of state-capitalism as “crisis-proof,” and said it was shifting the debate over economic models on the African continent. A French corporate executive was overheard lauding the merits of China’s Five-Year plans. Not perfect, he conceded, “but better than no plan at all – which is what we have in France.”

It took a Chinese speaker to bring the gathered ranks . . . down to earth at Summer Davos.

At a panel discussion on China’s latest Five-Year plan on Thursday, Zhang Weiying, an economics professor at Peking University, first noted that China routinely misses the important economic targets set out in its Five-Year plans by a wide margin (usually on the upside). Then he took a swing at the bureaucrats at the National Development and Reform Commission who devote vast amounts of time to producing the country’s economic blueprints. They are, he said, “a bunch of smart people doing something really stupid.”

Prof. Zhang went on to dismiss the massive stimulus spending that powered China through the global recession, also coordinated by the NDRC. Stimulus money can’t buy development, he said: that takes a commitment to markets, competition and entrepreneurship, which won’t happen while the NDRC calls the shots in the economy. In short, Prof. Zhang argued, China needs reform.

Prof. Zhang was undaunted by the fact that sitting on his panel was one of China’s top planning mandarin . . . who it’s safe to say is more used to dishing out criticism than taking it.

Zhang Xiaoqiang offered a spirited defense of the most powerful economic agency in China, but the audience seemed to be with Prof. Zhang as he warmed to his theme. Since the NDRC was established, he said, the pace of reform “has seriously slowed down.” . . .

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Blogger GlobalSherpa said...

China’s concerted, coordinated efforts at envisioning and implementing long-term development plans have played a key role in the country’s economic growth. China’s penchant for planning shows up in a variety of areas, including: natural resource acquisitions, rare earths, green energy and e-bicycles, to cite a few examples. In China today, more than 6,000 researchers and other experts focus on the science of rare earths, versus an alarmingly low total of about 20 scientists in the U.S.(Source: China’s Development Plans Lead World, BRIC Countries )

10/16/2011 3:14 AM  

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