(Pro) A2: Sex Trafficking

Turn – Poverty drives sex trafficking

Erika Wright, 2019, Poverty and Its Contribution to Human Trafficking, https://borgenproject.org/poverty-contribution-human-trafficking/
Poverty is a compelling factor in the human trafficking industry. Human Trafficking occurs in every single country on the globe. It is a global epidemic driven by poverty. The most common countries to which victims are exported are in Western Europe, Western Africa, Asia, Arab Nations and North America. The highest destination countries are Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey and the U.S. The main countries of origin of victims are Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern European countries, former Eastern bloc and Soviet Union countries, Latin America and the Caribbean. The most prevalent among the main countries are Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Lithuania, Nigeria, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Thailand and Ukraine, each with large populations affected by extreme poverty. Wealth versus poverty is an indicator of migration and trafficked catalysts. Potential victims attempt to move from areas with extreme poverty to areas with less extreme poverty. In these instances, it is the desire of potential victims to migrate to escape poverty that is exploited by traffickers. Control and threatening measures tend to increase once migration occurs for the victims. Those populations experiencing extreme poverty are especially vulnerable due to their circumstances and familial desperation. These high risk populations become trapped in the desire obtain a better life for themselves and their families. The poor are subsequently preyed upon by manipulative traffickers offering false promises of employment and education opportunities, remuneration in addition to a better life condition. In reality, the trafficker does not follow through on any of the promises. The victims are then forced to do other work—like prostitution or hard labor—receiving little or no pay, resulting in them still living essentially in extreme poverty. Those suffering from poverty are purposely targeted by traffickers as a means of exploitation. Due to poverty, some parents sell their children. In some instances, victims are told to work to pay off debts and told repercussions include violence, police involvement or immigration. Some victims are sold to many different traffickers. There are two types of labor the victims who are trafficked are subjected to, forced labor or prostitution. Over 32 billion dollars is made annually from human trafficking.

BRI reduces poverty

Conrad, July 18, 2019, Chris Conrad is a 2019 summer intern at the Independent Institute, currently majoring in Political Science at Haverford College with a concentration in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights. His interests include terrorism and the intelligence community, national and international security, international human rights law, and environmental policy, China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Boon for Growth or Threat to Civil Liberties?, https://blog.independent.org/2019/07/18/chinas-belt-and-road-initiative-boon-for-growth-or-threat-to-civil-liberties/ NOTE: Chris Conrad is a former recent Nueva PF Debater.
Unsurprisingly, one World Bank summary indicated that “BRI transport projects could reduce travel times along economic corridors by 12%, increase trade between 2.7% and 9.7%, increase income by up to 3.4% and lift 7.6 million people from extreme poverty.”

BRI will reduce poverty

Business News, 6-18, 19, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-worldbank-china-belt/world-bank-chinas-belt-and-road-can-speed-development-needs-transparency-idUSKCN1TJ2IX
China’s massive Belt and Road infrastructure drive could speed up economic development and reduce poverty for dozens of developing countries, the World Bank said on Tuesday in a new report that called for deep policy reforms and more transparency for the initiative. The long-delayed report said that the Belt and Road – a string of ports, railways, roads and bridges and other investments connecting China to Europe via central and southern Asia – could lift 32 million people out of moderate poverty conditions if implemented fully

Institute for Security and Development Policy, March 2019, https://isdp.eu/publication/chinas-anti-poverty-efforts-problems-and-progress/
In consideration of its substantial achievements in the field of poverty alleviation, Beijing has touted the “Chinese approach” as a suitable model for other countries struggling with widespread poverty. This is all the more pressing given the Chinese leadership’s very public and very substantial support for the Belt and Road Initiative, which touches upon any areas in which poverty is a very real social and political force. In particular, the government has encouraged experience and knowledge exercises intended to facilitate poverty alleviation by creating cooperation programs with African countries. Such activities include the organization of workshops, training sessions, forums and conferences. Delegations from African countries have been invited to visit some of China’s most under-developed regions in order to learn about targeted poverty alleviation methods first hand. Other countries in China’s orbit already appear to have adopted China’s poverty alleviation model. Recently, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, praised the Chinese experience as a “role model” for his country.

Moral obligation to reduce poverty to solve basic needs

Peet and Hartwick 99 — Richard Peet, Professor in the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, and Elaine Hartwick, Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, 1999 (Theories of Development, Published by The Guilford Press, ISBN 1572304898, p. 202-203)
Ethics are principles of right and wrong, good and bad, that human beings following their best intentions try to exercise in their relations with others and with the natural world. Humans differ from animals in the fundamental sense of being conscious of existing, but also in having conscience about our actions. That is, we make moral and ethical judgments about intentions and behaviors in which our actions are related to broader contexts, something greater than the particular, something long lasting, perhaps even eternal. This relationship to wider meanings occurs at the level of belief—that is, principles of existence held at the emotional level so that ideas are felt in a bodily way. For religious people, this greater thing is God, the originator of life and guardian of its purposes. Ethical principles by which to live were set down once and for all by the prophets who established a direct connection between themselves and the heavens. But religion can also be seen as a cultural form for legitimating ethical principles actually derived from contemplation of the lessons of life’s experience. And ethics can be discussed far more directly in historical terms of human experience, for example, the conditions under which people are happiest, or the forms of life that are environmentally sustainable—although there remains a dimension seemingly beyond direct analysis, for example, What constitutes “happiness”? or Is sustainability the only natural basis for ethical principles? In other words, when we ask the questions, How should we live? and Why should societies develop in certain ways?, the only sure guide is what we have done, and what we can learn from history, practice, and experience through eternal discussion. In the case of development, however, the ethical problems of what and how much to produce are made less intractable by the obvious needs of the world’s two billion poverty stricken people. There is a disturbing tendency for poststructural discussions to see poverty in terms of the [end page 202] social construction of a deficient term, rather than in terms of the material reality of massive and absolute deprivation. This tendency is accompanied by the ethical advocacy of “convivial poverty” and the spiritual ideal of simplicity and frugality (Rahnema 1997). Support comes from proverbs like: “You are poor because you look at what you do not have. See what you possess, see what you are, and you will discover that you are astonishingly rich” (Rist 1997: 294). If poverty is considered purely as a social construct, or something that has entirely different meanings depending on the cultural context, then simplicity, dignity, and the discovery of inner richness may have some validity as responses. But if poverty is considered materially as the absolute lack of inputs vital to continued existence, such as not enough food (of any kind) to keep people alive, as a far too universal reality, then postmodern ethical advocacy is a cruel hoax: it amounts to telling those who are about to expire that they are (astonishingly!) rich, that they should die with “dignity” rather than struggle for life. Here “dignity” is the postmodern equivalent of the myth of heaven, “put up and shut up.” But poor people are not quietly dignified, they are actively so. The poor have spoken, and they want what they need: food, shelter, services. These are authentic needs that satisfy any ethical principle, whether of happiness or resource scarcity. The ethical question is not whether but how to provide these basic needs. And the means of providing for needs is called development. This principle of the ethical satisfaction of urgent needs lies at the core of most social movements. While universal in its essence, it emerges in quite different forms depending on circumstance.
Turn – portraying women as sex trafficking victims undermines their agency
Tigno 12 – PhD, Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of the Philippines
(Jorge, “Agency by proxy,” in Labor Migration and Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia: Critical Perspectives, p. 35)//BB
All in all, the anti-trafficking discourse in the Philippines attests to the further victimization of women where their own sense of agency is displaced and defined for them largely by the state and feminist groups. The women in the anti-trafficking narrative are both glorified and reduced to victimhood, their heroism necessarily preceded by their victimization. This displacement of migrant agency reinforces ‘notions of female dependency and purity’ that has the effect of marginalizing rather than empowering the women concerned (Doezema 2002 23). Ironically, the emphasis on rescue and rehabilitation has the unexpected effect of compromising women’s rights. In order to address this, anti-trafficking protocols must necessarily be informed by the importance of upholding the totality of the human rights of trafficked persons to eventually make them advocates of their own welfare and empower them.

China’s development model can gut global poverty

Hussain, February 1, 2019, Ali Hussain works for King’s College London with a range of stakeholders to influence policy in the mental health field. He uses various mediums like policy briefs, reports and social media to interact with charities, government departments and policymakers, Taking the long route: China’s path to global leadership, https://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2019/02/01/taking-the-long-route-chinas-path-to-global-leadership/
As well as which, China is bolstering trade in other continents to display itself as the number one ally for countries to trade with. Almost a decade ago, China overtook the United States to become Africa’s biggest tading partner and has since been ramping up efforts to modernise many countries in Africa. Through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, President Xi announced $60 billion of funding in different forms, including interest-free loans and grants. China’s history in battling poverty is awe-inspiring and likely a significant factor as to why 53 African leaders attended the summit promoting Sino-African relations. Domestically, China has axed the extreme-poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to 10% now and African countries would hope Chinese guidance would replicate such success in Africa – as according to World Bank data out of the 34 poorest countries in the world, 28 are African countries.

Global poverty is an underlying variable. It contributes to several modes of suffering. The impact’s more than statistical – each ones of these deaths is unacceptable.

Barkan ‘11 Steven Barkan is a Professor and Chair of the Sociology department at the University of Maine. From: Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World, Comprehensive Edition v. 1.0 – available at: https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_sociology-understanding-and-changing-the-social-world-comprehensive-edition/s12-02-the-impact-of-global-poverty.html
Behind all the numbers for poverty and inequality presented in the preceding pages are the lives of more than 1.4 billion desperately poor people across the world who live in some of the worst conditions possible. AIDS, malaria, starvation, and other deadly diseases are common. Many children die before reaching adolescence, and many adults die before reaching what in the richest nations would be considered middle age. Many people in the poorest nations are illiterate, and a college education remains as foreign to them as their way of life would be to us. Occasionally, we see the world’s poor in TV news reports or in film documentaries before they fade quickly from our minds. Meanwhile, millions of people on our planet die every year because they do not have enough to eat, because they lack access to clean water or adequate sanitation, or because they lack access to medicine that is found in every CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens in the United States. As noted earlier, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, and other international agencies issue annual reports on human development indicators that show the impact of living in a poor nation. This section begins with a look at some of the most important of these indicators. The status of a nation’s health is commonly considered perhaps the most important indicator of human development. When we look around the world, we see that global poverty is literally a matter of life and death. The clearest evidence of this fact comes from data on life expectancy, the average number of years that a nation’s citizens can be expected to live. Life expectancy certainly differs within each nation, with some people dying younger and others dying older, but poverty and related conditions affect a nation’s overall life expectancy to a startling degree. A map of global life expectancy appears in Figure 9.7 “Average Life Expectancy Across the Globe (Years)”. Life expectancy is highest in North America, Western Europe, and certain other regions of the world and lowest in Africa and South Asia, where life expectancy in many nations is some 30 years shorter than in other regions. Another way of visualizing the relationship between global poverty and life expectancy appears in Figure 9.8 “Global Stratification and Life Expectancy, 2006”, which depicts average life expectancy for wealthy nations, upper-middle-income nations, lower-middle-income nations, and poor nations. Men in wealthy nations can expect to live 76 years on average, compared to only 56 in poor nations; women in wealthy nations can expect to live 82 years, compared to only 58 in poor nations. Life expectancy in poor nations is thus 20 and 24 years lower, respectively, for the two sexes.

Western model fails and impoverishes the developing world. Billions will remain in extreme poverty without an alternative

Pankaj Mishra, October 21, 2014, The Guardian, The Western Develoment Model is Broken, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/14/-sp-western-model-broken-pankaj-mishra
“So far, the 21st century has been a rotten one for the western model,” according to a new book, The Fourth Revolution, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. This seems an extraordinary admission from two editors of the Economist, the flag-bearer of English liberalism, which has long insisted that the non-west could only achieve prosperity and stability through western prescriptions. It almost obscures the fact that the 20th century was blighted by the same pathologies that today make the western model seem unworkable, and render its fervent advocates a bit lost. The most violent century in human history, it was hardly the best advertisement for the “bland fanatics of western civilisation”, as the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called them at the height of the cold war, “who regard the highly contingent achievements of our culture as the final form and norm of human existence”. Niebuhr was critiquing a fundamentalist creed that has coloured our view of the world for more than a century: that western institutions of the nation-state and liberal democracy will be gradually generalised around the world, and that the aspiring middle classes created by industrial capitalism will bring about accountable, representative and stable governments – that every society, in short, is destined to evolve just as the west did. Critics of this teleological view, which defines “progress” exclusively as development along western lines, have long perceived its absolutist nature. Secular liberalism, the Russian thinker Alexander Herzen cautioned as early as 1862, “is the final religion, though its church is not of the other world but of this”. But it has had many presumptive popes and encyclicals: from the 19th-century dream of a westernised world long championed by the Economist, in which capital, goods, jobs and people freely circulate, to Henry Luce’s proclamation of an “American century” of free trade, and “modernisation theory” – the attempt by American cold warriors to seduce the postcolonial world away from communist-style revolution and into the gradualist alternative of consumer capitalism and democracy. Such an approach would necessarily demand greater attention to historical specificity and detail, the presence of contingency, and the ever-deepening contradictions of nation-states amid the crises of capitalism. It would require asking why nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq failed catastrophically while decentralisation helped stabilise Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, after a long spell of despotic rule supported by the middle class. It would require an admission that Iraq can achieve a modicum of stability not by reviving the doomed project of nation-state but through a return to Ottoman-style confederal institutions that devolve power and guarantee minority rights. Addressing the splinters leaves no scope for vacuous moralising against “Islamic extremism”: in their puritanical and utopian zeal, the Islamic revolutionaries brutally advancing across Syria and Iraq resemble the fanatically secular Khmer Rouge more than anything in the long history of Islam. A fresh grasp of the general also necessitates understanding the precise ways in which western ideologues, and their non-western epigones, continue to “make” the modern world. “Shock-therapy” administered to a hapless Russian population in the 1990s and the horrific suffering afterwards set the stage for Putin’s messianic Eurasianism. But, following Geertz’s insistence on differences and variations, the ressentiment of the west articulated by nationalists in Russia, China, and India cannot be conflated with the resistance to a predatory form of modernisation – ruthless dispossession by a profit-driven nexus of the state and business – mounted by indigenous peoples in Tibet, India, Peru and Bolivia. In any case, the doubters of western-style progress today include more than just marginal communities and some angry environmental activists. Last month the Economist said that, on the basis of IMF data, emerging economies – or the “large part of humanity” that Bayly called the “long-term losers” of history – might have to wait for three centuries in order to catch up with the west. In the Economist’s assessment, which pitilessly annuls the upbeat projections beloved of consultants and investors, the last decade of rapid growth was an “aberration” and “billions of people will be poorer for a lot longer than they might have expected just a few years ago”. The implications are sobering: the non-west not only finds itself replicating the west’s violence and trauma on an infinitely larger scale. While helping inflict the profoundest damage yet on the environment – manifest today in rising sea levels, erratic rainfall, drought, declining harvests, and devastating floods – the non-west also has no real prospect of catching up with the west. How do we chart our way out of this impasse? His own discovery of the tragically insuperable contradictions of westernisation led Aron into the odd company of the many thinkers in the east and the west who questioned the exalting of economic growth as an end in itself. Of course, other ways of conceiving of the good life have existed long before a crudely utilitarian calculus – which institutionalises greed, credits slavery with economic value and confuses individual freedom with consumer choice – replaced thinking in our most prominent minds. Such re-examinations of liberal capitalist ideas of “development”, and exploration of suppressed intellectual traditions, are not nearly as rousing or self-flattering as the rhetorical binaries that make laptop bombers pound the keyboard with the caps lock glowing green. Barack Obama, who struggled to adhere to a wise policy of not doing stupid stuff, has launched another open-ended war after he was assailed for being weak by assorted can-doists. Plainly, Anglo-American elites who are handsomely compensated to live forever in the early 20th century, when the liberal-democratic west crushed its most vicious enemies, will never cease to find more brutes to exterminate. The rest of us, however, have to live in the 21st century, and prevent it from turning into yet another rotten one for the western model.

Turn: China’s development model is better. Their alternative is to leave people poor or trapped in the crappy Western model

Seth Kaplan, January 23, 2018, Seth D. Kaplan is a professorial lecturer in the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, senior adviser for the Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT), and consultant to organizations such as the World Bank, USAID, State Department, United Nations, and African Development Bank. He lived in China for seven years and speaks Mandarin Chinese. He can be reached at seth@sethkaplan.org., Development with Chinese Characteristics, https://www.the-american-interest.com/2018/01/03/development-chinese-characteristics/
Barring some major crisis, China seems poised to expand its presence in international affairs, and, as part of that presence, to offer an alternative development model to that long promoted by the West. Making explicit what has for some years been simplistically referred to as the Beijing Consensus, General Secretary and “core leader” Xi Jinping asserted during the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 19th National Congress that China has “blaz[ed] a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization. It offers a new option for other countries and nationals who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.” China has the resources and experience, he declared, to offer “Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems facing mankind.”1 To the prospective supply of such wisdom there appears to be a rising demand. Before his death in 2012, Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s leader for 21 years, often expressed his desire for his country to emulate China’s economic strategy. He marked the limits of the free market, consistently praised the Chinese Communist Party’s economic stewardship, and sought China’s assistance in building up Ethiopia’s infrastructure and manufacturing base. His successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, has been even more enthusiastic about trying to create a developmental state modeled on East Asia. As one Ethiopian bureaucrat was quoted in a recent Guardian article, “We are 20 years behind China and we’re trying to do what they did to get where they are.”2 Ethiopia is not alone. States as disparate as Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kazakhstan, and Bolivia seek to replicate China’s economic transformation. High-ranking decision-makers visit China on study trips. National planning bodies issue ambitious documents modeled on China’s experience. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. If for historical reasons some societies prefer to adopt governance forms and economic policies that directly challenge Western orthodoxy, that is no reason for Western leaders to wish that they remained mired in poverty. A problem arises just for those jealous of the ideological insistence that only the Western historical path to affluence works, and its central codicil that democracy and free markets are the only pathways to stability and prosperity. But it isn’t really a problem, ideologically speaking: If this is true, then the Chinese approach—or alternatives that other states may develop—will fail those who adopt it, China included; if it isn’t true, we should want to know that. China’s development model is too often misinterpreted or oversimplified. For many Western analysts, the so-called Beijing Consensus has come to denote a non-democratic challenge to liberal capitalism, constituting, as Minxin Pei explains, a combination of “authoritarian rule with pro-market economic policies.”3 This misunderstanding is not confined to the West. For many leaders in the developing world, such as the late Hugo Chávez, the China model has come to represent strong leadership, a centralized government, and an interventionist state. These caricatures miss many of the important lessons China’s rise has for the developing world. And having an alternative model to the Western one is important, given the latter’s failure in many countries. Despite decades of aid and advice, too few developing countries have been able to transform their economies on anything approaching the scale achieved by Chinawhich often followed a very different playbook from that promoted by Western development experts. Every country has specific circumstances that require a unique governance and development path, as this article demonstrates below with a brief case study from Ethiopia. The best approach synthesizes ideas and models from countries around the world and takes into account a given country’s historical experience. Understanding the key elements of China’s success will help developing countries formulate their own strategies. It might even help the United States to genuinely make itself great again. Chinese Lessons Party leaders have never laid out the Chinese model in any one speech or document, so to discover it by those means requires some reverse engineering. When Deng Xiaoping started the country on its reform path in late 1978, he had only a vague notion of what might work. Despite its achievements under Mao Zedong in unifying the country and substantially enhancing the education and health of the population, the three-decade-old Communist regime had a weak economic record, especially compared to its neighbors. In the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, China suffered from chronic food shortages, huge inefficiencies, gross misallocation of investment capital, and technological backwardness. After observing the rapid growth of neighbors such as South Korea and Taiwan, the pragmatic Deng and other Party leaders groped for a strategy to set their economy on a similarly successful path. As ensuing reforms produced unprecedented economic growth, several key principles emerged—some by design, some by accident. Although there are various ways to explain China’s success, the ten lessons that follow are chosen with an eye to providing ideas for leaders and policymakers across the developing world. 1) Start with small farmers and rural areas. Partly because of worries about an impending food crisis, China started its reform drive by breaking up farming collectives and empowering small-scale farmers. By linking effort to reward, productivity and output sharply increased. It also laid the groundwork for change throughout the economy. But China’s leaders did not simply unleash agricultural markets, as Western development agencies often recommend developing countries do. Instead, they concentrated state policies on ensuring that peasant farmers had the resources, knowledge, and incentives necessary to maximize output. The state remained firmly in control of prices (increasing them to encourage extra effort), the distribution system, and the supply of fertilizer.4 Over time, improvements to extension services, better infrastructure, investments in agricultural research, and large-scale education and training programs paid huge dividends.5 Only after the agricultural sector strengthened did Chinese officials introduce more widespread market liberalization reforms in the 1990s and 2000s. The gains from reconfiguring incentives were immediate and dramatic: the rural poverty rate fell from 76 percent to 23 percent between 1980 and 1985, as hundreds of millions escaped poverty for the first time.6 Higher incomes and productivity, in turn, prompted demand for new manufacturing products, produced household savings that could be funneled into investment in business, and created surplus labor for the new factories that sprouted up. One of the chief beneficiaries of these developments was rural industry, one of the most underappreciated elements of the Chinese economic miracle. Benefitting from the land, labor, loans, and technical assistance that local governmental sponsors provided, township and village enterprises (TVE) became the most dynamic part of the Chinese economy in the 1980s and 1990s. Their share of GDP climbed from less than 6 percent in 1978 to 26 percent by 1996.7 Competition between localities spurred investment, pushing the whole country forward. Today, many of China’s most successful private manufacturing firms are based in or got their start in relatively underdeveloped, predominantly agricultural areas. The New Hope Group, one of China’s largest private businesses, started as a breeding farm raising quail and chickens in rural Sichuan. Kelon, one of China’s largest white goods manufacturers, was founded in rural Shunde county in southern Guandong. And China’s most promising automobile exporter, Chery, is based not in Shanghai but in the agricultural hinterland of Anhui province. These rural enterprises have contributed significantly to China’s export p
rowess and produced tens of millions of jobs for people who might not have benefitted if growth had been concentrated in cities alone.8 And whereas 95 percent of Chinese villages have roads, electricity, running water, natural gas, and phone lines (compared with fewer than 50 percent of villages in India),9 many developing countries have ignored their rural areas, systematically underinvesting in rural agriculture and infrastructure.10 2) Invest heavily in knowledge infrastructure. China has invested heavily in education and innovation, producing the well-educated workforce and highly skilled specialists that have motored its economy forward. Whereas four-fifths of Chinese were illiterate in 1949, less than a tenth are today.11 Although few students attended college before the reform era, and fewer than a tenth of Chinese college-age students were enrolled in higher education in the late 1990s, today more than one-fourth (30 million) are. But educational gains were not merely a product of modernization. Some of the most important gains—especially at the primary and secondary school levels—predate the reform era. China emphasized health and education throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, equipping its citizens (unintentionally, as it was the heyday of Maoist Communist ideology) to take advantage of Deng’s capitalist reforms when they were launched in the late 1970s. Although still very poor in 1978, the population had achieved relative healthiness and education—its human development index already approached that of more wealthy states. China has prioritized its knowledge infrastructure in ways that extend beyond basic education. It has established advanced research centers for everything from agriculture to computers and sought to diffuse information about new technologies and production strategies. This has created what one British report called the “absorptive state,” increasingly able to harness global knowledge and innovation networks.12 Combining homegrown capabilities and infrastructure with foreign technologies and knowledge—frequently purloined, true enough—it has built the world’s fastest supercomputer, sent astronauts into space, and developed its own satellite navigation system. China also has emphasized learning in policymaking, using experimentation and feedback mechanisms to refine and update ideas to maximize their effectiveness. The goal is to promote a dynamic learning process such that new concepts are systematically tested and, if proven successful, rapidly and widely implemented. While China often falls short of this ideal (and is held back at times by the authoritarian nature of the state), it has proven successful at spreading new ways of doing things across an immense and still relatively poor country. An excellent explanation of this process appeared in a 2011 joint report from the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC) and the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): What makes rapid transformation processes possible? Development as a learning process. . . . A dynamic learning process takes hold in a country via interactions with new ideas, products and organisational models that are increasingly abundant in the multipolar, connected, global economy of the 21st century. Business models that are found to work locally, become widely replicated and then progressively improved, in an endogenous process of continual upgrading, across the economy—agriculture, industry, infrastructure and services. . . . The experiment-evaluate-scale up success principle is widely applied and rapidly implemented. This has demanded the expansion of higher education and the development of research institutions linked to policy decision making and implementation. World expertise has been sought and attracted through incentive schemes, international partnerships and often via aid programmes.13 3) Prioritize cohesion over participation. Although China is often criticized for being authoritarian, many of its leaders feel more accountable to its people than those in many developing countries that hold regular elections. The primary explanation for this apparent paradox is the country’s high degree of social cohesion and strong sense of nationhood, which result from its ethnic homogeneity (China is 90 percent Han) and its long history as a unified state. In this regard, China differs from most developing countries that lack a strong national identity, many of which were carved into being by colonial powers and combining many ethnic, religious, caste, or clan groups. In disciplinary terms, to put it bluntly, China’s situation shows that sociology is more important than economics. Despite the lack of elections, the affinitive power of a common cultural identity and group allegiance channels itself into economic development, yielding a state focused on building up national strength. For the most part, China’s leaders have been concerned with performance, staking their legitimacy on results, especially as Communist ideology has waned. The CCP has promoted officials who have delivered growth, and it has measured its own performance by how fast incomes rise, poverty declines, and public services improve. This informal accountability has proven less effective, however, as China’s economy has become more sophisticated. The ruling CCP has consistently come up short in enacting reforms (especially since the early 2000s) that threatened to substantially weaken its control over important levers of power, leaving the country less prepared for the myriad challenges it faces today as a middle-income country. The legal system, for instance, continues to operate under the stamp of the Party, and is only allowed to hold CCP leaders accountable when higher ups have pushed for it. As a result, the judiciary remains beholden to CCP powerbrokers. Alas, history and culture remain dominant here as well, albeit in a negative sense: China has never developed true rule of law, only rule by law. While many developing countries begin from a different starting point, the Chinese experience makes clear that social cohesion and an organic sense of elite accountability are critical ingredients for development—although the latter may not be sufficient at higher levels of development. 4) Build a competent government committed to inclusive development. The state has played a crucial role in the development of China, often by following a script that makes little sense to Western development specialists. It has energetically promoted business and owned tens of thousands of companies, even competing with itself at times. It has provided a welcoming environment for investors, even though the country has a weak legal regime and high levels of corruption. And it has often micromanaged markets with an eye to maintaining social stability and ensuring outcomes that align with its objectives. Despite its authoritarian nature, there are three features of how the state operates in China that any development specialist would praise, and that help explain why China has outperformed almost all other developing countries. First, China has a strong state—and by this I refer not to its authoritarian character but to its administrative function competence. Its government can formulate complex policies and ensure that they are (more or less) carried out. Building on millennia of experience with bureaucratic governance, China has far greater state organizational capacity across a much wider geographical and departmental range than any other developing country. Partly as a result, Chinese leaders have been able to use decentralization to accommodate local needs and promote local ownership of policies and a high degree of legitimacy. Regional and local governments supported business early on, helping the more promising small enterprises gain access to funding when money was scarce and ensuring easy access to larger markets by providing contacts, infrastructure improvements, and resources such as land and training. This limited risk, lowered costs, and provided the internal competition
that spurred foreign and local investment. Second, China maintains a much more inclusive regime than most developing countries. The state has worked to ensure that all its citizens are able to participate and gain from economic growth; this is rarer in the developing world than is usually recognized. Despite China’s massive size and population, almost every child gets a basic education and almost every village has roads and electricity. This emphasis owes much, again, to the country’s ethnic homogeneity and long history as a unified state. Socially heterogeneous countries with weak state apparatuses typically have leaders who seek to maintain power with ethnic, religious, or tribal support and consider those from other groups as threats to their control. However, China’s overwhelmingly ethnic Han composition has encouraged it to be assimilationist, disregarding unique cultures in its midst. China has provided Tibetans, Mongols, and Uighurs with economic opportunity while deliberately weakening their cultures and identities. Third, China’s government has been consistently committed to promoting development, adopting aggressive policies to attract investment, promote growth, boost exports, and develop technology and human resources. Both domestic and foreign investors have shown confidence in these efforts, pouring trillions of dollars into China’s economy over the past three decades despite the fact that it performs badly on most indicators of governance. These indicators, however, are partly a figment of the Western imagination that exalts narrow political and economic factors and ignores social and cultural dynamics. According to the World Bank, China scores in the bottom half of all countries for the overall quality of its governance.14 According to Transparency International, it is highly corrupt, ranking just below places such as Brazil, Belarus, and Turkey.15 Yet it thrives, which ought to tell us more about the World Bank and Transparency International than it does about China. The gist is that although Chinese state operations are riddled with inefficiencies and corruption, the state has played a much more positive role in China than in most developing countries, where the state is often the greatest barrier to progress. Complaints over intellectual property protection, the favoritism shown to state companies in some sectors, environmental issues, and growing inequalities pale in comparison to the insecurity, inconsistency, red tape, and incompetency that make the state the biggest barrier to development in many developing countries. 5) Invest heavily in infrastructure. China has invested vast sums in developing every aspect of its infrastructure, something that sounds basic but which few developing countries have achieved. This has had a profound effect on its attractiveness to investors and its economic growth. Much as the United States saw investment in its national highway system as strategic for its security and economy during the 1950s, China believes that developing world-class transportation systems and export infrastructures are crucial to its future. By lowering the costs and risks of doing business within the country, China has taken advantage of its well-educated, inexpensive workforce to create the world’s most important manufacturing center. Export totals have climbed dramatically, from the 32nd-largest in the world in 1978 ($20 billion) to the largest in 2010 (more than $1.5 trillion).16 The transportation system has played an important role in integrating the vast country and reducing (to some extent) the great inequalities that sprouted up in the aftermath of reform. By enabling the population to travel easily and cheaply, the road and rail network has helped weave together the continent-sized country, integrating the population in a way that was unimaginable until recently. Hundreds of millions have seen their lives transformed by enhanced work opportunities, cheaper consumer goods, and options for travel. And large inequalities between regions are being reduced to some extent because companies can invest in inland regions once severely disadvantaged by higher transportation costs. Investments in residential infrastructure—particularly in electricity, running water, and telephones—have also reduced inequality. As a result, the vast majority of families have benefitted from the country’s recirculation of economic gains into infrastructure spending. Investment in infrastructure, combined with China’s emphasis on nurturing its homegrown capabilities, has spawned a set of globally competitive enterprises. Chinese companies build government complexes, airports, malls, homes, hotels, and highways from Algeria to Liberia to Pakistan, strengthening ties and gaining diplomatic influence in the process. Through initiatives such as One Belt, One Road (OBOR), they help knit China’s Southeast and Central Asian neighbors into its economy, increasing their dependence on it in the process. And they play a strategic role in helping China gain access to important natural resources. For example, in places such as Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chinese companies build infrastructure that either reaches remote sites or that helps develop the economy in a way that a royalty payment cannot. 6) Experiment with new policies first, then implement reforms gradually. Whereas governments elsewhere often introduce policies without testing them (either due to overconfidence or international pressure), China has consistently embraced a trial-and-error, evidence-based approach to test policy before rolling it out nationally. This approach partly reflected the leadership’s uncertainty—and to a certain extent lack of unity—about how to induce reform. Few had experience with capitalist ideas and modern economic systems. Resources were limited and poverty widespread. No country the size of China had ever modernized successfully by design. No one had anything approaching a blueprint (in 1979) for how to restructure a Communist state-run economy. There was no consensus on what the goal of reform ought to be, or what the process of change ought to look like. But these uncertainties may have been an advantage. China has reformed in a piecemeal manner, working much more cautiously than Western aid agencies have when advising developing country governments around the world. This approach echoed Deng Xiaoping’s dictum, “Crossing the River While Feeling the Rocks.” The piecemeal approach both reduced risk and disarmed opponents. Initial successes converted many to back reform, sometimes because of the rich payoffs reform promised. One change led to the next in an evolutionary manner. The damage to the social fabric and government capacity that has often followed restructuring programs elsewhere was mostly avoided. Slow but steady change led to remarkable transformation. State enterprises were restructured cautiously, but were eventually forced to dramatically change the way they operated. First, their monopoly was removed and prices were freed at the margins. New companies appeared, creating competition and forcing the managers of state enterprises to adapt to market needs. As profit margins declined, firms were forced to pay more attention to profits, leading them to hire better managers and offer better rewards to those who succeeded. This in turn produced better performance.17 Eventually, these state enterprises laid off millions of workers, but in a way that brought less disruption to the economy and to the lives involved because private-sector companies were able to hire most of them. Their share of industrial production declined from more than three-fourths in 1978 to less than one-sixth by 2005.18 Instead of introducing market prices across the board, China repeatedly introduced a dual-pricing system that kept most major commodities partially under a centrally controlled system. This unleashed incentives (for any production beyond a quota) but allowed the government to limit the disruptiveness of reform. As production exp
anded, more of the economy marketized.19 The decentralized and competitive nature of the Chinese government has played an important role here. Provincial and local governments have provided laboratories for new policies (much as states can do, if allowed, in the United States) and encouraged new ideas, even those clashing with Beijing’s orthodoxy. For example, local farmers in Anhui Province challenged the commune system, setting the stage for the introduction of more market-based methods first in agriculture, and then later in industry across the whole country. Local officials in Guangdong first proposed attracting foreign investment; special economic zones in Shenzhen and elsewhere followed soon thereafter. And in competing to outdo each other, provincial and local governments attracted investment, developed new industries, and expanded infrastructure at a furious pace—a sharp contrast to local governments in many developing countries, which often have no developmental role or behave in ways that hurt growth. 7) Focus on reworking incentives and removing obstacles to growth. As already noted, China eschewed the “big bang” approach to reform under which all prices and markets are freed simultaneously, as happened for example in Poland in 1990. Instead it focused on “big issues” such as “incentives, mobility, price flexibility, competition, and openness.”20 Enormous economic advances occurred although—and maybe because—institutional reforms were delayed. The gradualist approach seeks to rework incentives and remove obstacles by changing policies just enough to unleash pent-up energy that catalyzes progress.21 The idea is that the force with which newly unleashed energy meets remaining obstacles powers further reform.22 With China getting these “big issues” mostly right, institutional weaknesses, government malfeasance, a lack of democracy, and even gross distortions to some markets have mattered much less than Western models expected because initiative is rewarded at every level. Companies that manufacture inexpensive products can export them. Laborers willing to work long hours in difficult environments can send home previously unimaginably sums of money to their families. Resourceful families can open retail stores and enlarge their incomes. Farmers who boost yields can profitably sell their produce. In time, markets came to play a dominant role across the economy, producing intense competition and leading to huge expansions in the production, quality, variety, affordability, and price of goods. Few developing countries have created an environment as encouraging to initiative as China; indeed, most have overlapping political and economic elites who excel at rentier behaviors that raise barriers to entry and frustrate initiative. Meanwhile, growing international ties produced an enormous transfer of knowledge and know-how into China, further shaping incentives for companies and individuals and boosting growth in the process. Chinese reforms also coincided with a new era in globalization, enabling companies to move goods less expensively, people to communicate more cheaply across great distances, and everyone to have access to greater amounts of information. Chinese worked for foreign companies, traveled overseas, accessed abundant translations, learned English, sought information on foreign products, and studied abroad. Many of these activities would have been far more difficult and less effective had reforms been carried out decades earlier. We know it’s true: Timing may not be everything, but it counts for a lot. 8) Use financial markets to promote development and stability. Instead of assuming that unattended financial markets, accompanied by a stable macroeconomic and legal framework, would produce optimal results (as Western policy often assumes), China has intervened repeatedly to ensure that financial markets promote development and stability. Like many of its East Asian neighbors, Chinese leaders have sought to use public policy to alter the supply and price of certain goods (including money) in ways that would “lead the market” and so encourage outcomes the government saw as critical.23 As in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan, China has emphasized the role of banks and a postal savings system, prudential regulation, and limits on financial market competition. It has always viewed Western-style unconstrained financial markets with suspicion. By reducing risk and increasing convenience for small and rural depositors, its policies boosted savings rates and accumulation of capital. Chinese households save about 40 percent of their incomes, the highest rate in the world (and about ten times the rate of Americans). The large capital pool has enabled the country to generate and sustain one of the highest investment rates in the world: over 40 percent in recent years.24 Interest rates have been kept low to increase companies’ demand for capital. Investment in infrastructure has given the country world-class facilities that belie its middle-income status. The country has also tightly managed its capital controls and currency value, preventing wild flows of currency into or out of the country from undermining the economy, as they did in many Asian countries in 1997-98. These policies have also boosted export competitiveness by maintaining stability and ensuring the currency was reasonably priced. Yet tight financial control has come with a cost. By never fully reforming its Soviet-style financial system, China misprices and misallocates enormous amounts of cash. As a result, China’s financial system poses problems absent in other rapidly developing Asian countries—which generally give the state a much smaller role in finance. Its debt problem, for example, poses unnecessary threats that could have been avoided if the government had pushed forward with institutional reform in the banking and finance sector. Another cost is that it is possible to save and invest too much, leading to overproduction and excess capacity that have no normal outlets. This amounts to government-abetted sectoral bubbles and massive misallocation of capital. As China tries to stimulate more domestic consumption to deal with the problem, it is finding its institutions more of an impediment than a benefit, and anemic reform in other areas (like a social safety net) a complementary barrier to change.25 9) Use government policy to boost economic competitiveness. While most Western economic thinking lauds liberalized markets, China has employed various “illiberal” policy instruments to promote industrial development. Just as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Germany, and to some extent even the United States once did, China’s government prioritized certain sectors and companies deemed likely to become globally competitive. It then ensured their access to cheap capital and land, technology, human resources, and regulatory assistance—advantages over their peers elsewhere. It has also used regulation to keep foreigners at bay (such as in restricted industries) or to diminish their influence. Yet it has also used Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to promote foreign investment at certain times, in certain places, and in certain sectors, giving them a larger share in its economy than many of its neighbors do. Protectionism has thus been selectively strategic. Large state-owned enterprises continue to dominate crucial industries, and even many smaller ostensibly private firms exist with some form of state ownership. Meanwhile, local governments have actively promoted local champions such as Geely Automobile and China Yurun Food—even when the central government did not view them as national assets. Like many before it, the Chinese state has recognized that “the dynamic process of moving from one stage [of economic development] to the next requires industrial diversification, upgrading, and corresponding improvements in hard and soft infrastructure,” as Justin Yifu Lin, the first Chinese Chief Economist of the World Bank, put it.26 Private firms sometimes lack the scale or incentives to overcome many externaliti
es; in these cases, greater intervention is needed than Western policies typically prescribe. Although the large role of the state in business may yield greater problems in the future, on the whole the role of the state has been much more positive than negative in China’s case. 10) Promote self-reliance. In keeping with its strong sense of nationhood, China has strategically sought to use its reform to maintain self-reliance, viewing openness as critical to defending its interests and strengthening its economy. In contrast, most developing countries have adopted policies—often under Western influence—that undermine their ability to engage the world on their own terms. Instead of deploying the laissez faire policies advocated by the international community, Chinese leaders have dictated the terms on which foreign companies can access its market in key sectors, invested heavily in new technologies (and sought them out clandestinely overseas), and built up national champions that can compete internationally. It invested heavily in its ability to govern (instead of laying off tens of thousands of government workers, as some states did in the name of “restructuring”) and prioritized wealth creation over poverty reduction (often the emphasis of foreign aid). The IPRCC-OECD report summarizes, Making economic transformation the central guiding objective of government . . . provides a basis for wide consensus and participation across society in a national project. . . . Self-reliance has been a fundamental principle of Chinese strategy. This principle is imbedded deeply in China’s strong ownership of its own development path while absorbing knowledge from a wide range of external actors. . . . External support, such as foreign investment and aid, is incorporated within those strategies and policies, which makes this external support more effective.27 With the right know-how, homegrown corporations, and a capable state apparatus, China sees globalization as a game it can win. Trade builds up its companies, benefits the great majority of its citizens, and enhances its international position. Deng Xiaoping famously said, “It doesn’t matter whether it is a white cat or a black cat, a cat that catches mice is a good cat.” More than anything else, China has been pragmatic throughout its reform era, adopting a results-based strategy rather than following a formulaic one, as it did prior to reform, and adopting ideas and know-how from multiple sources. Other countries would also likely profit from a heterodox approach, synthesizing ideas and models from both their own cultural experience and those abroad that suit them best. China’s rising influence combined with the weakening of Western hegemony and the Trump Administration’s profound lack of interest in the developing world makes it more likely that countries in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere will turn to it for ideas.