Why China is Not Different

Posted this at an online blog recently, in their comments section.


I think that one of the main reasons that “China is different”, is really, because the USA “was different” – in that the USA was (!) possibly the greatest economic machine ever (?), and China “works” only because the USA first existed…else, Chinese communism would and could never have done what it has done. It is only the stupid, short-sighted USA that enabled them to become what they have become, and are becoming, due to massive USA –> China wealth and productivity transfer.

ie. it took the USA to first legitimately “succeed” for Chinese Communism/centralised-market-weirdness (?) to ride on the back of the USA…else there simply would be now “Wow, China!” that we have today.

So, is China different? Sure, why not.

But i’m still uneasy about the whole “they are different in a way we don’t yet understand”.

And my problem is philosophical and psychological in nature.

Firstly, i still think China is A LONG way off being able tostopp sucking (transferring) from the teet of the USA, and even Europe, for that matter – ie. they are not yet a stable market machine in and of themselves; such that if the market machines (Eurpoe and USA) that they DO “feed off” go down “too quickly”, then China is only left with a system that is still very much characterised by its centralised quasi-market system – Communist markets, if you will, which have only been able to do what they are currently doing because they are not at war with the western markets, and can continue the transfer processes. But if the west declines before China has reverted to something other than Communism (which they certainly still have!!), then they will be left without the western lifeblood, and will quickly revert back to something resembling a sick Communist quasi-market-system…which is just dressed-up Communism…which the Chinese people will hate.

And that brings me to the my second problem with the “China is different” hypothesis: really, how different, signficantly, can they actually be? I mean, we can point and this and that economic differences, but ultimately, an economy is built from the very basic building blocks of people, their interactions, their value systems and their expectations.

And for all that is different, supposedly, between the western economies and people and the Chinese economy and people, culturally, etc, the most important ingredient – the people and basic 1 and 0 thinking, is largely the same.

People are people, and we are far more similar than we are different!

And people’s thinking and expectations are not really that different, either, from country to country, culture, belief system, etc…not when one gets down to the real nuts and bolts of it all. Different decisions, sure, but VERY similar fundamental modes of logic and thought, etc…basic stuff…

And my second gripe, therefore, is this: if people are given any freedom in an economy at all – which is at least partly the case in China – then they will make decisions in their interests, and in accordance with their values, in true economic, fundamental form. And it can’t be manipulated, really – it’s just part of being human, of interacting, of expressing and adjusting value and expectation. We in the West do it; Chinese people do it to.

And, i add, this is the second big problem with the “China is different” notion: they’re not – the Chinese people (not the govt!) will act economically much the same way that we do: they will save much the same as when we save; they will convert cash for goods much when the same as when we convert, and vice versa; they will invest much the same as we would invest; and the will sell at much the same time and way as we would.

They’re essentially the same as us; but the differences, are argue, do not even nearly outweigh the similarities.

And here’s the applications: If the western and other nstions and people groups through-out time have had economic booms and busts – which are predominatly a function of the very basic notions of the human mind, heart and soul, as they interact and express, and react – then how, with clearly indentifiable issues relating to problems and imbalances in those same human systems, can the Chinese also escape what no one else has really been able to? That is, the consequences of groups and people interacting and reacting to one another, and the resultant part of that reaction we call “The Economy”, including its “booms and busts”?

I know we want to be able to point to this and that and claim “difference!”; but this is largely because we want to call that arbitrarily-segregated aspect of human interaction called “Economics” as a mechanical system, instead of what i assert it actually is: a human system, and particularly, a moral and psychological system.

But the analogical similarities between Economics and mechanical/natural systems are so far out-weighed by the moral-psychological descriptions and prescriptions, that the previous might as well be discarded as macro tools, and left in the “Useful for Micro” pile.

So, in summary, the primary problems I have for “China is different”, are this:

1) China needs the USA and Europe – it is not mature enough on its own, having not generated enough sustainable wealth and not transferred enough wealth and “acumen” from the USA and Europe, for them to even begin to fail (or whatever). Alternatively expressed: China is what it is because the USA and Europe pre-existed it, it fed from them, took from them, abut cannot cope without them yet.

2) China cannot escape the consequences of actions and reactions, balances and imbalances in an “Economy”, simply because an economy is made up of people who think and act, and react, with basic and fundamentable, non-mandatable moral and psychological impulse. Otherwise expressed: if there is an imbalance in an economy, it will be reacted to in a human, not a systematic/mechanical kind of way, because it is moral and psychological system, not a mechanical one that can be controlled.

My 2c


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