The Future of Chinese Economy mudule G
China now plays a much bigger role in the world economy and its importance is likely to increase further.
Angus Maddison has tried to assess why and how this acceleration occurred and to throw light on future
potential.He has also made a considerable effort to recast the estimates of Chinese GDP growth to make them
conform to international norms.
In order to understand contemporary China it is useful to take a long comparative perspective. In many respects
China is exceptional.It is and has been a larger political unit than anyother.Already in the tenth century,it was
the world's leading economy in terms of per capital income and this leadership lasted until thefifteenth centory.
It outperformed Europein levels of technology, the intensity with which it used its natural resources
and its capacity for administering a huge territorial empire.In the following three centuries,Europe gradually overtook
China in real income,technological ands cientific capacity.In the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth
century, China's performance actually declined in a world where economic progress greatly accelerated.
A comparative analysis of Chinese performance can provide new perspectives on the nature and causes of
economic growth' It can help illuminate developments
in the West as well as in China.In the past, analysis of
economic progress and its determinants has had a heavy Euro centric emphasis.Assessment
of the Chinese.
historical record has been highly Sinocentric.A more integrated view can illuminate both exceptionalism and
normality and provided a better understanding of the reasons for the rise and decline of nations.
China is likely to resume its role as the worlds largest economy by 2015
Adoption of more distant honzons can c]arlfy causal processes.Growth analysis has concentrated on the past
two centuries of capitalist development in which rapid technical change,structural transformation and rising per
capita incomes were the norm' Earlier situations where per capita income was fairly static are sually neglacted
it is assumed there was no technical change.But extensive growth-maintaining income levels whilst
because may also require major changes in the organisation of accommodatings and bstantial rises in population-
production.Technological progress needs to be interpreted broadly. It should not be restricted to advances in
machinofacture,but shrould encompass innovations in administration, organisation and agricultural practice.
A long view can also help understand China'scontemporary policies and institutions. Echoes from the past are
China was a pioneer in bureaucratic modes of governance. In the tenth century,it was already recruiting
professionally trained public servantson a meritocratic basis.The bureaucracy was the main instrument for
imposing social and political order in a unitary state over a huge area.The economic impact of the bureaucracy
was very positive for agriculture. It was the key sector from which they could squeeze a surplus in the form of
taxes and compulsory levies. They nurtured it with hydraulic works.Thanks to the precocious development of
printing they were able to diffuse best practice techniques by widespread distribution of illustrated agricultural
handbooks. they settled farmers in promising new regions. They developed a public grnary system to mitigate
famines.They fostered innovation by introducing early ripening seeds which eventually permitted double or
They promoted the introduction of new crops -tea in the T'ang dynasty, cotton in the Sung,
sorgum in the Yuan and new world crops such as maize,potatoes, sweet potatoes,peanuts and tobacco in the Ming.
Agricultural practice compensated for land shortage by intensive use of labour,irrigation and natural fertilisers
Land was under continuous cultivation,without fallow. The need for fodder crops and gtazingland was
minimal.Livestock was concentrated on scavengers (pigs and poultry). Beef milk and wool consumption were
rare.The protein supply wasaugmented by widespread practice of small-scale aquaculture.