China has made significant development: US expert
Updated: 2013-03-11 13:46
CHICAGO -- China's achievements over the last decade, as summarized in Premier Wen Jiabao's recent government work report, are extraordinary, and so are the challenges the country faces moving forward, said a China expert in Chicago.
"It would be impossible not to be impressed by how much China has accomplished, and impossible not to be impressed by how big the problems that still remain," said Kenneth Pomeranz, Professor of History at the University of Chicago, as he reflected on Premier Wen' s government work report delivered at the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress.
Pomeranz also serves as hte president of the American Historical Association and is the author of The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy. He is regarded as one of the world's leading China specialists.
A key reason that Pomeranz attributed to the success of the fast development in China is the strong central leadership.
"China got through the 2008 financial crisis better than almost any other place because the central government could push through a stimulus program quite quickly," said Pomeranz in a Xinhua interview. "They could take a lot of construction projects that were in the planning stage and accelerate them. That was quite impressive," he continued.
On major challenges such as environment problems and corruption, Pomeranz stated that it is less clear if such top-down approaches will be adequate for improvement.
Many environmental policies look quite good on paper, he said, but their implementation has been quite difficult, especially at the local level.
Because China is trying to do so much so fast, and is doing it on a relatively slim margin of error, Pmeranz pointed out, it is crucial to balance the centralized enforcement with the local jurisdiction.
When talking about the projected 7.5 percent economic growth stated in Premier Wen' s government work report, Pomeranz said it is still very impressive.
"There are enough drivers there to keep that kind of growth going for a while," he said. "The transition from rural to urban still has 15 to 20 years to run, and that kind of rapid urbanization means massive investment in infrastructure, lots of things that are going to keep demand reasonably healthy for a while," he added.
He said if the economy runs into trouble, he doesn't think it will be for economic dynamics. What worries him more are environmental, social and political problems.
One of Pomeranz's focused studies is the long-term significance and global context of environmental change in China, especially in water management.