China stories part 1

I’ve consumed a few thought provoking pieces on China in the last week I wanted to share.

Today, this piece in Noema on China’s dual circulation strategy.

Chinese policy is often expressed as idioms or special slogans.* “Dual circulation” is the latest phrase in use by China’s leadership to describe its developmental strategy:

The article is a thoughtful exploration of where the policy comes from and the implications it might have.

The most intriguing (and frustrating) part for me was the discussion about what “dual circulation” actually means. The closest definition offered was a nod to Import Substitution Industrialisation, a leftist development strategy popular in the 1970s but now in disrepute. The article suggests China’s size and technological sophistication might make it workable there.

If this were even partly true it would mark a serious shift in policy, with major implications for trade partners. More detail will have to wait until China announces its 2021-2026 five-year-plan early next year.

While the lack of detail is annoying, the underlying point is familiar: China continues to upset liberal economic and political assumptions about state building. As both Adam Tooze and The Economist have argued, China is building something new and we would be fools to underestimate it.

*Idioms have a long and formalised history in China, with over five thousand special four character phrases known as chengyu in use.

One thought on “China stories part 1

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