Spring 2014

China’s Economy: Complacency, Crisis & the Challenge of Reform

Barry Naughton

China's economic success has bred a new complacency and resistance to change. This in turn has created a credibility crisis, as many Chinese citizens believe the opposition of vested interests makes reform impossible. However, proponents of economic reform argue that the current economic strategy is unsustainable. They point to reform backsliding, overinvestment, and financial fragility as problems that will collide with an inevitable economic slowdown caused by rapid demographic changes, and that will potentially cause economic and political crisis. Renewed economic reform is thus the only prudent and viable choice. The November 2013 Third Plenum shows that China's leaders have tentatively accepted the need for reform.

BARRY NAUGHTON is Professor of Chinese Economy and the Sokwanlok Chair of Chinese International Affairs at the University of California, San Diego. His books include The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth (2007), Growing Out of the Plan: Chinese Economic Reform, 1978–1993 (1995), and the edited volume Wu Jinglian: Voice of Reform in China (2013).

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