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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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Since 1989, the security environment facing the United States and its European allies has changed beyond recognition. The Soviet Union has disintegrated, as has the division of Europe between East and West, and new threats have arisen. The disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s demonstrated that instability and war emerging from failing states could affect the peace and security of Europe. After 2001, global terrorism became the priority threat, especially when linked with the prospect of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

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Since his inauguration in January 2005, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has repeatedly stated that his foremost foreign policy goal is his country’s integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. “Joining Europe” today, be it preparing a country for a bid to enter the European Union or NATO, is an extraordinarily complex business. It will require the development of a consensus on a Euro-Atlantic policy course among the country’s political leadership. It will also require an effective and coherent policy coordination structure. As the experience of other Eastern European countries has demonstrated, integration into the European Union or NATO is not just the responsibility of the foreign and defense ministries. It also requires coordination with the ministries of economy, justice, agrarian policy, transportation and communications, internal affairs – indeed, virtually every ministry in the Ukrainian Cabinet.

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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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The Workshop on China and the World Economy, sponsored by the Atlantic Council of the United States and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. Department of State, convened December 7, 2005, and January 9, 2006, at the Atlantic Council. The conference was chaired by Franklin D. Kramer of the Atlantic Council. Robert A. Kapp of Robert A. Kapp & Associates, Inc. served as rapporteur. The workshop was structured around “an examination of interpretive dichotomies,” which provided the titles of the successive sessions. Banning Garrett of the Atlantic Council organized the program, and Cora Foley of the State Department offered welcoming remarks. The following is a summary of the main themes and comments raised during the two day workshop.

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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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