CEPR

“Chinese Globalization Has Done Well”

October 11, 2017

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Washington, DC ― A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) shows that most low- and middle-income countries have continued to experience an improvement in key economic and social indicators since the “very unusual long-term failure of the last two decades of the twentieth century.”

The report, “The Scorecard on Development, 1960–2016: China and the Global Economic Rebound," looks at the economic rebound of the twenty-first century for most of the world in terms of the growth of per capita GDP, as well as health and social indicators including adult, child, and infant mortality, and life expectancy.

“Much of the discussion of the impact of ‘globalization’ on the developing world conflates the success of China with the result of a very different set of economic policies in most of the rest of the world,” said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of CEPR and co-author of the report.

For example, two-thirds of the net reduction in extreme poverty in the world since 1990 has been in China. Much of the remaining third was helped by the vast increase in China’s imports from other developing countries, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese foreign investment, loans, and aid.

“Chinese globalization has done very well,” Weisbrot said. “The same is not so clear for the other kind of globalization that has been advocated by Washington-led institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, and WTO.”

China notably was “one of the few developing countries that decidedly did not follow a neoliberal path since 1980,” the report states, and “multiplied its per capita income by a factor of 21 by 2017, became the largest economy in the world, and played a major role in pulling dozens of other countries out of their long slump.”

The report notes the sharp contrast between Chinese development policy, which included state control over most investment, the financial system, central bank, and much of manufacturing ― as well as a gradual transition from a planned to a mixed economy ― versus the neoliberal reforms in most of the world during the 1980s and 1990s.

The report notes that the unusual long-term economic failure of the last two decades of the twentieth century, as well as the dramatic turn-around, are largely ignored and unexplained.

“This should be an important topic of debate,” said Weisbrot. He noted that the negative impacts of “globalization” in high-income countries have in recent years contributed to political upheaval there, but that “globalization” has been defended as a great boost to billions of people throughout the world. However, the picture of which policies may have succeeded or failed is more complicated, he said.

The Scorecard on Development, 1960–2016: China and the Global Economic Rebound” is the latest edition of a report series that began in 2001; the last version was published in 2011. The first two editions of the Scorecard (2001 and 2005) documented a then ongoing, historic long-term economic failure that occurred in the 1980s and ‘90s, before most low- and middle-income countries began to experience an economic rebound.

A launch event for the new Scorecard was held in Washington on Monday, featuring presentations by Mark Weisbrot; Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the Sustainable Development Goals; and Nancy Alexander, Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America. (Video here.)

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