China's Rise in Comparative Perspective

This course is an overview of China’s national trajectory since the 1970s, and places its historic transformation firmly in comparative perspective. We will examine the evolution of the economy from the days of its Soviet-style system to the present version of a state-directed market economy. We will examine the ways that China’s trajectory differs from other countries that have departed from the Soviet model, as well as other economies in East Asia that have experienced “miracle” growth in recent decades. We will consider the limits of China’s model and the anticipated changes that will be needed to keep up its momentum in the face of a rapidly aging population, rising labor costs, and rapidly accumulating corporate debt. Among the topics explored in depth are corporate restructuring and corporate governance; financial and banking reform; the fight against corruption; the “middle income trap”; and debt-based financing as a stimulus to economic expansion. We will conclude with an assessment of current ideas about the strengths and weaknesses of China’s economic model, and China’s possible futures. The course is lecture based, with ample time for structured discussion and debate. Students must come to class fully prepared to make arguments based on familiarity with the week’s readings.

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