Even as Chinese society is growing more robust, its authoritarian state remains committed to social and political control. Emerging tensions between the two could push forward social and political reform.
An annotated Foreign Affairs syllabus on China's economy.
Washington need not worry about China's economic boom, much less respond with protectionism. Although China controls more of the world's exports than ever before, its high-return high-tech industries are dominated by foreign companies. And Chinese firms will not displace them any time soon: Beijing's one-party politics have bred a timid business culture that prevents domestic firms from developing key technologies and keeps them dependent on the West.
Over the past decade, China's leaders have pursued rapid economic reform while stifling political change. The result today is a rigid state that is unable to cope with an increasingly organized, complex, and robust society. China's next generation of leaders, set to take office in 2002-3, will likely respond to this dilemma by accelerating political reform -- unless a new cold war with the United States intervenes.