Discourse on “The political economy of the rise of China”

#EnlightTalks series within the framework of “Enlight” three-month analytical internship program.

On July 15, within the framework of the analytical internship, Enlight Studies analyst and political scientist Gevorg Gasparyan gave a talk about “The political economy of China’s rise”. The speaker started the meeting by showing a picture which symbolizes the  transition of China from tradition to modernity.  He first made a historical reference  about  East Asia in the early ages,  China’s dominant position there  and the first attempts of interrelations with foreigners. . The speaker presented some noteworthy facts about China comparing the past  to the present: GDP,  trade partnership index, and poverty index etc. For example, it’s noteworthy that in 1978 China was poorer than the Sub-Saharan countries(GDP per capita was $156, which was less than the average of one third of the above mentioned countries- $490).

Speaking about Deng Xiaoping’s remarkable role in the development of China, the speaker presented some of his quotes which expressed the philosophy of the reform period (“Crossing the river by feeling the stones”, “It doesn’t  matter whether  a cat is white or black,  as long as it can catch mice”, etc). He also presented the implementation principles of China’s reform policy; pragmatism, gradualism, being a country rich in labour force as a comparative advantage, centralization, social homogeneity. Using the comparative advantage and the advantage of late development, China was able to develop with a model known as export-oriented development. This, in turn, allowed the accumulation of capital, which was later invested in capital-intensive industries.

The speaker also referred to  the evolution of the Chinese model of socialism,  the concept of market economy, the process of political reforms and  presented the peculiarities of agricultural reforms. Development factors were discussed; ways to acquire  capital, labour force and technology, the participants discussed the topic of how the birth control in China served to accumulate capital and solve the problem of labour force, to improve quality.

In the other part of the meeting, the speaker separately spoke about the ways of acquiring capital ( foreign trade and investment (FDI)),  fiscal decentralization (banking reforms/investments), the ways of acquiring technology and features of the labour force (birth control effects, education, the high performance of the Chinese in international competitions). The speaker also mentioned the high level of academic degrees awarded to  the Chinese in the US, which testifies that China no longer has a lack of qualified specialists. Due to all this, China moves from labour-intensive industries to capital-intensive industries and from export-oriented development to consumer society.

In the end, the speaker talked about the “Made in China 2025” document, according to which China plans to be the first in a number of  spheres by 2025. He ended the meeting by presenting some entertaining and interesting facts about China.

You can get acquainted with Gevorg Gasparyan’s analytical articles by following this link.


Prepared by Narine Galoyan

Translator: Aida Saribekyan © All rights reserved