October 20, 2005

Asia Times Letters

At the risk of oversimplification, it could be argued that Francesco Sisci's article [Is China headed for a social 'red alert'? Oct 20] on protests in "socialist" China over the increasingly visible inequality levels (higher than in capitalist America and Britain) [is] a testimony to what an opportunity cost China is incurring due to its opaque political system. The value of qualification, deliberation, scrutiny and accountability are of utmost importance when it comes to realpolitik or political economy, especially in an important issue such as economic transition. A comparative situation could be seen in India's West Bengal, where Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya is receiving flak from the opposition over laying a red carpet to foreign capital, or the government in Delhi, which faces questions from its communist allies in parliament. Such practices might delay reforms, but they will ensure that all arguments for and against have been laid on the table, and the consequent decision has a greater probability of being justified in the long term. China's environmental degradation, raging inequality, non-performing assets in banks and a rampant cadre-company nexus are all attributes of translucency. As the author mentions, it is only when the party decides to unveil fresh data that the world gets to know what lies dormant behind the gleaming Pudong skyline. We need an "Argumentative Chinese", and we need her now.

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