Analysing a China in potential crisis
This article is from 2007.
It’s not many people that can make dense economic theory and political machinations accessible to the casual reader, but Will Hutton is one such man. Formerly the editor-in-chief of the Observer and What the Papers Say political journalist of the year in 1992, Hutton has increased his status and popularity with books such as The State We’re In (an analysis of the UK in the 1990s) and The World We’re In (which explored the often thorny relationship between the US and Europe) and earlier this year dipped his toe into the vast expanse of China with The Writing on the Wall.
His wide-ranging look at China’s march to the position it finds itself in today as a genuine threat to American’s financial power is both eye-watering in its detail and eye-opening in its portrayal of a country on the brink of either being the key player on the world stage or taking a huge dip into social catastrophe. ‘The worst case scenario is that a faltering in growth would trigger the Conservative wing of the Communist Party taking over in Beijing,’ notes Hutton.
‘There is a real lack of clarity over who will succeed Hu Jintao in 2012 and China’s growth could slow, hurting the world economy with tensions in a succession of trouble spots intensifying. In a very worst case, China could attempt an invasion of Taiwan, although this is extremely unlikely.’
The reaction in the West to the book has been favourable, but how have his friends in China taken to it? ‘Surprisingly well. Very few Chinese dispute the thrust of the book. Some argue that there should be more emphasis on their successes along with the criticisms, but the general view is that I am broadly right. The real question is how to execute the next phase of reform rather than deny it needs to happen.’ (Brian Donaldson)
16 Aug, 1.30pm, £7 (£5).