When he first visited Beijing in 1975, Orville Schell noticed a country that lacked advertisements, private cars and private property. Today, China possesses the world’s second largest economy. Schell, the director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society, and his co-author John Delury, a senior fellow at the Center, discuss how China rapidly climbed the global economic ladder in their new book, “Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-First Century.” They join us in the studio.

Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York City
John Delury, senior fellow at the Center on U.S.-China Relations, and assistant professor of international studies at Yonsei University

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    China seems to take education more seriously in many ways. They along with India are producing more college graduates with science, engineering degrees while the United States lags behind even Germany it seems.

    Between the end of WW2 and the 70’s we as a nation were #1 in science and engineering and university graduates. Now we rank below any western developed country in various studies.

    Meanwhile conservatives in and out of Congress don’t seem to care. My question is why?????

    • Chris OConnell

      Good points. But lagging behind Germany in science and engineering is somewhat to be expected! It is their national stereotype to excel in such matters.

  • thucy

    I really admire Schell. I’m hoping his new book also examines the steep cost of China’s climb up the economic ladder, and how many hundreds of millions of people were left out of that climb as the income gap grew.

    Despite fears in the US of China’s new power (reminiscent of irrational US fears of Japanese power back in the 1980s) most Americans don’t understand the profound social, economic, and environmental problems facing China. Can China grow all its own food? Can its engineers magically create clean water out of toxic industrial sludge? And how many incidents like the massacre at the market in Xinjiang, wherein native people retaliated against the government-engineered influx of Han people into an already-taxed economic environment, are simply not reported?

  • Chris OConnell

    Speaking of “face,” what about “Remember the Alamo?” What about, “Never again.” Do you remember Fallujah and how it was destroyed to avenge the 4 contractors.

    Saving face, having pride, these are not Chinese characteristics. They are universal. They are not Chinese ways of thinking but deep within all of us advanced apes.

  • Livegreen

    I find it interesting that U.S.-China experts, and the Chinese themselves, rarely acknowledge the positive role the U.S. has played in assisting China’s rise. The United States has opened up it’s markets to China, often more than has been reciprocal, and yet there seems little acknowledgement or appreciation for such efforts.

    • Chris OConnell

      If you are ascribing noble or altruistic motives to US policy in China, then you must not be a student of international relations. If you are saying the US helped China while helping itself, that is fair enough. But I am not sure they owe us anything for that.

      • Livegreen

        Of course the U.S. did it in part for their own interests: allies with China in WWII, checking the Soviet Union and opening up China economically for both our own industries & with the hope this would lead to a march towards Democracy.

        The success of these latter is debatable, but all of them include a positive for China as well as the U.S. So yes, I’m arguing that the US helped China while helping itself.

        The U.S. has used this policy of enlightened self interest to aid many other nations as well (Europe after WWII, Africa currently, etc.). Yet it is often ignored by experts and beneficiaries alike.

        China simply would not have access to our markets without U.S. efforts.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    I suggest a followup show with author of “Selling to China”, Stanley Chao. Rather than pie-in-the-sky tourism being hyped today by your two otherwise likeable guests, Mr Chao cautions about the modern Chinese ethos of fraud, the “golden period” of Chinese mfgrs luring business but then substituting inferior parts and subcontractors, and American companies inability to have legal standing to enforce any contract in China’s court system. Very sobering, yet not negative point-of-view.

    As a sidebar, let’s recall how pharmaceutical giant, Baxter, sources and makes Heparin in China, and had a horrible contamination issue due to infected pig cartilage from a supplier in China, which caused more than 80 deaths and hundreds of serious adverse reactions. Baxter supplies about 50% of the heparin used in the U.S. And that’s just one example of dangerous regulation and oversight in China. The gov’t’s position appears to be harsh punishment if caught, but no oversight until publicity occurs, which reflects poorly on China.

  • czheng

    Cixi was wise in her early years in helping China regain its territory all the way back to Xinjiang, but in her late years, she became too obsessed with her 60th birthday (which is considered the biggest event of one person’s life in Chinese culture), and pulled all the military funding that was so crucially needed by the navy in ordered to defend against the Japanese, into building her Yuan ming yuan garden. She killed all the reformist along with the emperor for their effort to incorporate the Japanese Meiji model to revive China. If anyone, she should be the one held responsible for China’s collapse.

    • xingfenzhen

      Not funding the Beiyang Navy was a strategic decision to check Li Hongzhang’s Power. After she actually rule from a relatively weak position, and must always play a game of balance with relative factions in the court. Whatever the cost it may cost to the country. She is also a helmsman that’s not afraid to crash the ship she guide just to maintain her position of helmsman.

      Perhaps China would have done better had Prince Gong put in charge instead of Cixi (as that little palace coup in Chengde had intended). But you never know, in 1861, China is in a position of tremendous weakness with both Second Opium War waging and Taiping rebellion. If Prince Gong succeeds, he would be in the same precarious position as
      Dorgon in 1644.

  • We are only to blame for the success of these many countries for being open and ultruistic, let alone the theory of comparative advantage and before we knew it, outsourcing was the name of the corporate game…now all of a sudden we realize that these Asian nations have copied and pasted us well, using American prototype as a spring box of their segway into their own innovative successes.
    It so reminds me of the camel, his master and the tent, in a cold desert night…before the master knew, he was kicked out of the tent and the camel was inside enjoying the warm tent. As a bit by bit and incrementaly, the camel convinced the master, starting first with his leg being cold & so it goes.

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