When the ultimate insider finally admits that something can’t go on forever, it’s remarkable. I consider the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as the centerpiece – the pillar, the foundation stone – of international affairs. James Perloff’s The Shadows of Power, last revised in 1988, will persuade even the most jaded and skeptical about this. And Herb Stein is the economist who famously said that when something can’t continue on forever, it will stop.
It looks like Stein is right once again, and the CFR, in its mouthpiece publication Foreign Affairs, has finally recognized it.
What’s been happening in China is remarkable, breathtaking, almost incomprehensible:
For four decades, the Chinese economy has grown by between seven and ten percent each year. It is the envy of the world…
At seven percent a year, China’s economy doubles every ten years. At ten percent it doubles every seven years.
Visitors to Beijing, Shanghai, and other major Chinese cities are quickly awed by impressive skyscrapers, glittering shopping malls, new highways, and high-speed rail lines, all of which leave the impression that China is a developed economy — or at least well on its way to becoming one.
Even in some smaller cities in inland provinces, government buildings make those in Washington and Brussels appear meager. In an area of Anhui Province that is officially designated an “impoverished county,” the government office block looks exactly like the White House, only newer and whiter. (my emphasis)
But the game is almost over. Local governments force landowners to sell their land at very low prices and then lease the land to developers at prices up to 70 times what they paid for it. It’s been very