Orville Schell and Peter Schiff contend that China’s brand of state-directed capitalism has the resilience to come out on top of the global market. Ian Bremmer and Minxin Pei put their money on the American model despite its faltering in recent years.
Where do you stand?
Intelligence Squared U.S., in partnership with Slate, promises provocative, insightful discussion of this timely question as Schell and Schiff square off against Bremmer and Pei to debate whether “China Does Capitalism Better than America.” ABC News’s John Donovan will be moderating the March 13th event at NYU’s Skirball Center, and a live audience will vote to determine the winning team.
A word of warning for anyone staunchly embedded on one side of the Chinese vs. American capitalism debate: according to its mission statement, Intelligence Squared aims to “to transcend the toxically emotional and the reflexively ideological; and to encourage recognition that the opposing side has intellectually respectable views.” It was also voted one of Forbes’s “Top Five Podcasts to Change Your Mind.”
Though this upcoming discussion sounds fascinating, I actually think framing the issue as a face-off between China’s state supported capitalism versus the US’s more freewheeling version is the wrong question. To me, the most important question is whether China will have what it takes to surmount the middle income trap.
I was on a panel this past weekend at the Wharton China Forum 2012 and while there I had the opportunity to listen to a great lecture by world-renowned economist, Augusto Lopez-Claros. I asked Professor Lopez-Claros whether he thought China would be one of the rare countries that breaks through the middle income trap and his answer was a resounding “it’s possible.” He then went on to note how only five countries have really done that and become developed: South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Chile. I’m not even sure Singapore and Hong Kong are even large enough to count. I am not prepared to say that China will not be able to burst through the middle income trap, but I will say that I think those who just assume that it will are ignoring all sorts of things.
Will China ever become a developed country? If you think it will, what do you think China has that that will enable it to do so? Conversely, if you think it will not, please explain why you think that.