Is the Chinese way toeconomic growth a model for other nations to follow? That was the theme ofEdward Wong'sleadstory fromBeijing, "Booming, China Faults U.S. Policy On The Economy- A New Self-Confidence - Chinese Cite Approach as More Suitable for Many Nations."
It's strange to compare China, a recent Third World economy playing catch-up through fast growth, to a settled superpower like the United States, but Wong plays it straight up.
Wong had previously been based in Baghdad and was the most anti-war Times reporter in Iraq(he found bizarre ways to discredit the initial success of the troop surge). In Tuesday's article, Wong seemed to get a kick out of putting the U.S. in its place:
Not long ago, Chinese officials sat across conference tables from American officials and got an earful.
The Americans scolded the Chinese on mismanaging their economy, from state subsidies to foreign investment regulations to the valuation of their currency. Your economic system, the Americans strongly implied, should look a lot more like ours.
But in recent weeks, the fingers have been wagging in the other direction. Senior Chinese officials are publicly and loudly rebuking the Americans on their handling of the economy and defending their own more assertive style of regulation.
Chinese officials seem to be galled by the apparent hypocrisy of Americans telling them what to do while the American economy is at best stagnant. China, on the other hand, has maintained its feverish growth.
Some officials are promoting a Chinese style of economic management that they suggest serves developing countries better than the American model, in much the same way they argue that they are in no hurry to copy American-style multiparty democracy.
All this reflects a brash new sense of self-confidence on the part of the Chinese. China seems to feel unusually bold before the Summer Olympics, seen here as a curtain raiser for the nation's ascent to pre-eminence in the world. The devastating earthquake last month helped by turning world sympathy toward China and dampening criticism of its handling of Tibet.
The Chinese attitude is no doubt bolstered by the lame-duck status of the Bush administration and by the fact that the United States is widely seen as having squandered its political and military leadership during the war in Iraq, which China opposed. Likewise, Chinese officials and state news media have suggested that the relatively quick mobilization of the Chinese Army during the recent earthquake in Sichuan Province contrasts favorably with the Bush administration's reaction to Hurricane Katrina.
Of course, China's Communist rulersuse shadowy parts ofits People's Liberation Army for a lot of things, including what the Times has euphemistically termed "internal stability." And while Wong lets the Chinese Communist government preen over its growth rate, there's no mention from Wong of the hundreds of schools that collapsed during the earthquake, killing thousands of children. Times Watch awaits the official Chinese lecture on building codes.
Wong lets the Chinese Communist government argue against U.S.-style capitalism, as if the surging economic growth in China over the last decade wasn't fueled by free markets:
One of Mr. Liu's colleagues, Liao Min, told the newspaper The Financial Times in late May that the "Western consensus on the relation between the market and the government should be reviewed."
"In practice, they tend to overestimate the power of the market and overlook the regulatory role of the government, and this warped conception is at the root of the subprime crisis," said Mr. Liao, director general of the commission.
"The U.S. has always considered its economy powerful and is reluctant to listen to other countries," said Lin Jiang, the head of the economics department at the China Youth College for Political Sciences in Beijing. "Of course China now is more confident than before and Chinese people are more proud of China's economy, but we can't be blind. It's still hard to challenge the U.S."