April 22, 2012

#Friedman needs to talk to #Kristof about #China

Teapot Tommy Friedman, aka "My Head is Flat," has never met a breathless story about the successes of globalization, especially in China, that he hasn't liked, embellished, spun into a column and loved to death.

Therefore, it's ... er ... "interesting" to note that he's said not a column-inch word about the recent news about corruption-laden, possibly  criminal Chinese Communist politico Bo Xilai.

That said, his op-ed partner, Nicholas Kristof, has no problem in so doing, and in spelling out what this really means, and what the likes of neocentrists like Friedman refuse to see, let alone accept: The Chinese bubble is bursting.

First, the corruption problem:
Even good people are on the take in China these days, because everybody else is. Chinese doctors take cash from patients’ families before surgery. Journalists take bribes to write articles. Principals take money to admit students. 
If this were about Mexico, Friedman would be all over it. But, it's China, so you hear the crickets on his column pages.

Second, as I said, Kristof notes that the bubble is bursting. Or, in some ways, it never expanded to include all of China:
The backdrop is the staggering wealth enjoyed by the elite. More than 300 million Chinese lack access to safe water, but one tycoon’s home I visited had an indoor basketball court, a movie theater and a pond with rare fish worth up to tens of thousands of dollars each.  
There's more, about the alleged money-laundering by Bo and his wife, and more. Kristof notes that reform voices are making themselves a little bit heard, but that's nothing new, either.

Zhao Ziyang was doing the same before Tiananmen Square in 1989, and his pains got him exiled from the government and under house arrest.

Contra neocentrists and neoliberals, capitalism of a sort can and will coexist with dictatorial government of a sort. Hell, it wasn't called "capitalism," but look at the Roman Empire.

That said, it will often become corrupt crony capitalism on a scale of the Koch Brothers' wettest of wet dreams.

And, despite Kristof's hopes, I doubt liberalization of Chinese politics, even within the Communist Party, will happen to any great degree in any time soon.

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