Saturday, October 30, 2010

China needs to learn from India's legal system and protection of vulnerable groups: CASS study

Chinese think-tank, CASS, assesses national competitiveness, and finds China ahead of India on economic parameters, but says China needs to learn from India's legal system and protection of “vulnerable” groups, writes Ananth Krishnan in the article titled "Learn from India, says Chinese think-tank", published in the Hindu, on 27 October 2010.
A report on “national competitiveness” released by the official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), which is China's leading think-tank, also forecast that China would become the world's second-most powerful nation after the United States by 2050, and overtake the U.S. to become the largest economy in 2030.

CASS publishes “blue books” ranking countries in terms of national power, which are widely read by academics and officials here. Many CASS scholars advise the government on policy issues.

The findings of this report, which measured economic factors, were published in many official newspapers on Tuesday. While the rankings are a subjective assessment by Chinese scholars, who assigned points on criteria ranging from progress in science and culture to technology and workforce talent, they are a reflection of how academics here view their country's position with respect to other nations.

The report ranked China 17th overall in terms of national competitiveness in 2008. India was ranked at 42, one spot below Bulgaria and ahead of Kazakhstan.

“China's overall national competitiveness is slightly stronger than India, but India is ahead of China in some areas,” said Ni Pengfei, the editor of the report.

The report pointed to the rule of law, protection of vulnerable groups and the preservation of traditional culture as areas where China ranked lower than India.

The study featured a detailed comparison of China's and India's respective advantages. It said before the year 2000, the two countries were “at a similar level,” but in the last decade China made “quick adjustments” that had resulted in a widening gap in competitiveness, since 2004.

India had “obvious advantages” in industrial structure, the report said, pointing to a services sector which accounted for 52.94 per cent of economic growth, compared with China's 41.89 per cent. It forecast “a more intense level of competition” for resources between “the world's two fastest growing countries.”

“China's comprehensive competitiveness has seen a leapfrog promotion over the past two decades, and it has huge potential and strong capability to catch up with and surpass developed nations in the future,” said Mr. Ni.

China, however, lagged behind the U.S. and Europe when it came to higher education, technological talent and cultural appeal. The report particularly stressed that China needed to do more to boost its soft power, amid increasingly negative perceptions of China's rise both in the West and among its neighbours.

“We should think of a country's cultural power when talking about its national competitiveness,” Chen Shaofeng, a scholar at Peking University, told the China Daily.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Soft power

"China’s state-led model of winning hearts and minds is no match for India’s private effort", writes Sadanand Dhume in "Likable India" in The Wall Street Journal (October 25, 2010). A few excerpts.
"Scholars and journalists alike tend to make much of China’s vaunted "charm offensive." It turns out, however, that when it comes to winning hearts and minds—at least democratic hearts and minds—China’s top down state-led model is not much of a match for India’s decentralized private effort."

"In terms of goodwill, India bests China in both Western and Eastern democracies. For instance, according to a poll released last month by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Americans place India in the same ballpark as long-term allies South Korea and Israel. China elicits only about as much warmth as Venezuela and Mexico."

"A recent BBC World Service poll of 28 countries says more or less the same thing. On average, more than half of Americans, Britons and Canadians feel "mainly positive" about India; only about one in six feel "mainly negative." With China the numbers are reversed. Barely one in three from the Anglophone countries feel mostly positive about the Middle Kingdom; for more than four in 10 the emotions evoked are negative. Similarly, more Japanese, Indonesians and South Koreans feel positively than negatively toward India; with China it’s the opposite."

"For many people, India is probably more likeable in part because it’s not nearly as threatening as a powerful, well-organized China."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A tale of two Games: Beijing Olympics and Delhi Commonwealth Games were two very different beasts

Despite the surface commonalities, the Olympics and the CWG are not in the same league, just as, despite being hyphenated, India and China are not on par, writes Pallavi Aiyar, in the Business Standard, titled "A tale of two games". Here are a few excerpts.

In China, the years leading up to 2008 saw Olympianism emerge as the country’s new religion; any questioning of the Games, the equivalent of blasphemy. With traditional beliefs like Confucianism having been battered by decades of communist struggle and in turn socialism’s egalitarian ideals punctured by the increasingly single-minded pursuit of mammon, the authorities in Beijing used the Olympics as a legitimising ideology which helped justify unpopular decisions.

But nowhere was the discussion, so prominent in India, of the desirability of the Games in a country with millions of citizens still mired in poverty, in evidence. Beijing as a city was architecturally re-wrought, with hundreds of thousands of citizens relocated and displaced. Some committed suicide. None had proper legal recourse. Yet, these alternative narratives were absent from the discourse surrounding the Games. Those who spoke out against were censored, fired and in the worst case scenario, imprisoned.

There was something glorious, at least to someone with China-habituated eyes, about how Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the CWG organising committee, was booed during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. In Beijing the loss of face thus suffered by a senior official would have been unbearable to the authorities. In Delhi, it was part of the freewheeling, chaotic melee of Indian democracy.

That the Nobel Prize for Peace was given to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident currently in prison for 11 years for advocating democratic reform in China, as the Commonwealth Games wound down, only served to underline the India-China divide. Dispersed and polyphonic, India is from a Chinese standpoint almost incoherent. And if the ability for a government to mobilise its citizenry on the one hand and deliver on its promises on the other are seen as necessary aspects of ‘coherence,’ the Chinese perspective is understandable.