China Today Essay

1394 words - 6 pages

The path of economic development can take many alternate routes and contain frequent detours, however, as each nation develops they must confront the root causes of their poverty and past failures. Economist Daron Acemoglu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argues that inclusive political and economic institutions aggregate to form an argument based in historical antecedents of countries throughout the world. Moreover, University of Stanford economist Barry Weingast’s argument relies on the idea of a strong, but never too strong federalist system acting as a catalyst for economic success. While both authors contain numerous historical examples, neither set a precedent that is fully applicable to the current state of affairs economically nor politically in the People’s Republic of China.
In order to understand the failings in Weingast’s argument, it is essential to examine his findings and how they compare to Acemoglu’s findings. Weingast examines the role of decentralization in the federalist system and how political foundations of markets are crucial to the process of economic development. “China has more than 900,000 laws and regulations in addition to hundreds of thousands of judicial decisions. Many Chinese citizens are aware of laws and policies and think government should take them more seriously” (Diamant). The idea that a nation must make a credible commitment to the preservation of markets relies on limiting the power of the political officials through self-enforcing mechanisms, however it is apparent when you talk to many Chinese nationals or read any non-state run media that rampant corruption is one of the pressing issues of modern China (Weingast 2). This phenomenon has arisen from the Chinese instrumentalist legal system, where the law serves to promote political goals, encourage economic development, and to maintain the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (Diamant 2013). The economic growth in China has served to improve the rule of law as an attempt to bring its legal standards up to the strictly mandated standards laid out by the World Trade Organization (Clarke 2003).
As author Francis Fukuyama states: “ China was the first world civilization to create a modern state. But it created a modern state that was not restrained by a rule of law or by institutions of accountability to limit the power of the sovereign. The only accountability in the Chinese system was moral” (150). The historical lineage of law in China has led the modern legal situation in China, in which the legal system is primarily used as a last resort for those attempting to settle disputes, especially for minor quarrels. The most affluent citizens are those who will use law most often to advance their interests as well as protecting the status quo, which has enabled them to achieve success. When a country such as China is structured in such a way that incentives for the political elites are aligned with the economic interests of the...

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