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The China fix

Will Hutton
25 October 2008

With the markets crashing once more and the last rites being
pronounced over Western capitalism, the consensus is that autumn 2008
is when global economic power will have been seen to pass to Asia in
general and China in particular. This is the new economic powerhouse.
Its growth may slow a little while the West flounders, but it will
emerge from this recession as the world's centre of economic and
financial gravity. Goodbye, USA. Hello, the Chinese Communist party.

It
is fashionable foolishness that ignores some brute realities. The first
is that Asia, except Japan, remains in essence a subcontractor to the
West. Two-thirds of China's exports, for example, are made by foreign
companies who essentially reprocess imports of semi-manufactured goods
that are then shipped to Europe and the US. It is an economy that does
not innovate - it is the great copier and counterfeiter of Western
technology. This may change over the next 200 years, but not during the
lifetime of most of the people reading this column.

(To read on, click here...)

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Will Hutton is chief executive of the Work Foundation. He writes a weekly column in the Observer.  His books include The World We’re In (Little, Brown, 2002), A Declaration of Interdependence: Why America Should Join the World (WW Norton, 2003), and The Writing on the Wall: China and the West in the 21st Century (Little, Brown, 2008) 

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