The let-down that China watchers felt when the much anticipated summary communique came out of the third plenum of the Communist party was soon overridden by the ambitious agenda laid out in the subsequent “decision” document. Despite the vagueness of the communique, the “decision” provided a comprehensive reform programme that, if acted upon, will absorb the energies of this generation of senior leaders and beyond. Ironically, rigorous implementation of these reforms will alter market incentives so that annual gross domestic product growth in the coming years could rise to 8-plus per cent even as the recent Central Economic Work Conference debated whether to lower the official target to 7 per cent to reinforce that quality now matters more than quantity. Continue reading »
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