Four China items of the day, April 14 2015
1: Legitimacy through opinion polls? That's the idea, says The Economist:
But the government is also consulting people, through opinion polls that try to establish their views on some of the big issues of the day as well as on specific policies. Its main aim is to devise ways to keep citizens as happy as possible in their daily lives. It avoids stickier subjects such as political reform or human rights. But people are undoubtedly gaining a stronger voice.
Opinion polls today cover a vast range of subjects. The biggest growth in demand for them is driven by the Chinese government itself, says Mr Yuan (who is a party member). The top rung of leaders rarely commissions polls, but what Mr Yuan describes as “customer satisfaction surveys” by local governments are used “very extensively”, he says. These evaluate government performance on issues such as social security, public health, employment and the environment. They even assess the popularity of local leaders, although the party insists that public approval on its own is not enough to guarantee a leader’s promotion.
China GDP data shows economy in deflation - first time since 2009 pic.twitter.com/llJ0ra2SrW— Tom Orlik (@TomOrlik) April 15, 2015
China's 7% GDP is impressive (miraculous?) given how little real estate investment is going on. pic.twitter.com/xQFGnanUpP— Alex Frangos (@alexfrangos) April 15, 2015
The country’s model for nearly four decades of growth has run its course, a victim of a sharp, cyclical downturn and structural flaws laid bare by the 2008 global financial crisis. The prevailing model relied heavily on government investment, exports, industrial policy and privileges for a bloated state sector that gobbled up land, energy and credit at subsidized prices. The Chinese economy became energy intensive but is energy inefficient, a toxic combination that damaged both the economy and the environment.
I remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects for reform, despite the gloom and doom that pervades so many analyses. China’s leaders understand what they need to do.