Rochester-Bern: China Seminar 2016
by Prof. Dr. Petra Joerg
Three things have fascinated me the most during our recent China seminar: the continued dynamics of the economy (1), the inventiveness of the Chinese people (2), and the dedication of both people and government (3). Still, there are quite some challenges to address in the years to come (4).
1 – The dynamics of the economy
Having visited China once a year since 2006, I continue to be amazed by the fast pace of change (even when the overall GDP growth rate has come down). It is not only the Pudong area in Shanghai that grows visibly each year. You can see the change in almost every street and company, and in many people.
2 – The inventiveness of the people
Only recently, the Chinese Government has closed a museum where 60% of the exhibition was faked, as Professor Laike Yang mentioned. But this is not the only sign for inventiveness. Chinese people find solutions for pretty much every problem, and they do so in sometimes very innovative ways.
3 – The dedication of both people and government
The Government wants China to play a role in the world and follows a clear vision to reach that goal. “They may not want to lead the world, but surely they don’t want to be led”, as Professor David Gosset has put it. The same counts for many young people. They are hungry for education, personal growth, and a career.
4 – The challenges
The developments in China pose challenges for the Western world which has become rather complacent over past decades. We are much less agile when it comes to innovation or development. But China faces several challenges itself: the state of the environment, the health and pension system, demographics and income disparities are difficult to manage. Moreover, the country is at an inflection point where it has to move from building infrastructure to replacing infrastructure. Finally, efficiency of production has to go up if China still wants to remain competitive. The Government has critical years ahead of it which will decide over China’s future role in the world. I am curious to see how things will turn out.