Issue Briefs

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The stunning rout of the proposed EU constitution a year ago in the referenda in the Netherlands and France leads one to wonder, a year later, where Europe goes from here. One must also consider what went wrong and whether circumstances have changed, or will change, sufficiently to allow another approach to a European charter, as proposed by the European Council at their June gathering.

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Over the past several years, the Atlantic Council’s International Security Program has taken a position that, in due course, the United States’ adversarial relationships with countries, such as Libya, Iran, Syria, Cuba, and North Korea will eventually be restructured both in recognition of changes in the nature or policies of these difficult regimes, and in anticipation of a more cooperative dynamic with regard to shared problems. In the case of Libya, there has been a great deal of progress since 2004, but some issues and problems remain.

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This Issue Brief is based in part on an Atlantic Council delegation trip to Taiwan in December 2005, led by Franklin D. Kramer, chairman of the Council’s Committee on Asia and Global Security, and including Jan M. Lodal, president of the Council, and Council board members, Julia Chang Bloch, John L. Fugh, and Helmut Sonnenfeldt, as well as Banning Garrett, director of Asia Programs, Jonathan M. Adams, Asia Programs assistant director, and Ellen Frost, senior fellow at the Institute of International Economics. Banning Garrett, Jonathan Adams and Franklin Kramer wrote this Issue Brief which was endorsed by the other members of the delegation.

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China has done remarkably well in its development over the last twenty-five years. It has achieved and sustained high rates of economic growth, lifting millions out of poverty. It has achieved a significant place in the international economy. It is widely regarded as a major power, not only in Asia but also increasingly on a global stage. Looking ahead, however, things could go wrong – possibly quite seriously wrong – for China, and if China experiences serious problems, its size and its expanded role in the world mean that there could be serious consequences for the broader international community as well.

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What are the implications if China sustains nine-percent growth through 2010? This is the basic question posed by conference organizers. The relevant time frame is what matters most. If China merely maintains nine-percent growth until the year 2010, the implications are not great. Too much is left unknown about what comes after 2010. Even with nine-percent growth over the next five years, China in 2010 will still be at a relatively low level of performance, both overall and in per-capita terms. But if sustaining nine-percent growth to 2010 means that China has launched on-going reforms that will continue to engineer institutional changes needed for a market economy’s successful commercial and political management, then the resulting successful development trajectory in the rest of the century will generate profound and, from today’s perspective, unexpected consequences.

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China ought to be able to produce a relatively high economic growth rate over at least the next decade. There are a number of problems confronting the economy, but one of the great lessons of the past half-century of world economic growth is how much growth can result even when economies have considerable institutional flaws. Economists usually speak about the need to get the “fundamentals” right to produce economic growth, but we should also keep in mind that nations need not get have a perfect set of institutions and rules to generate growth.

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China as Employer and Consumer: Economic Outlook for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010)

Economic growth in China is underpinned by very powerful structural factors that will remain in place for many years. These factors suggest that China will be able to sustain a high rate of growth in output and job creation during the period when the population of working age is at its peak (2005-2015), and that improved education will generate significant productivity gains when the working-age population declines and the potential for growth from sheer accumulation of labor wanes. Economic policy has generally been supportive of growth, and incremental progress is visible in many areas of concern.

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China as Consumer

This article seeks to examine two key issues that will be major drivers of consumption in China over the coming five years: urbanization and environmental amelioration. Whether the issues identified will be the largest factors over this time frame remains unclear, but each of these two areas warrants considerable attention as a very significant contributor to the future of consumer demand in China.

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Beginning with the start of reform in the late 1970s, China’s industry has recorded impressive growth of output, labor productivity, and exports as well as dramatic upgrading of the quality and variety of output. These gains have occurred in spite of difficulties arising from lethargic state enterprises, inadequate corporate governance, excessive official intervention, corruption, and weak financial institutions.

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Hu Jintao

This paper addresses the challenges facing China’s surging economy.  As the country’s economy grows and becomes more open to the world market, it is also emerging as a greater force in the world economy. Furthermore, the party/state has (so far) been remarkably effective in adapting both to the governmental challenges of providing more regularized and institutionalized procedures for managing its own affairs as well as to the challenges of a rapidly privatizing market economy.

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