The Autocratic Recession – Will China’s Handling Of COVID Sink Its Economy?

I am in the middle of writing a book about French democracy, and not for the first time I wonder if I have the wrong country. Every so often in the past months I felt I should be writing about America or the UK, but now the riots continue boldly in Iran, and then, surprisingly we have political protests, widespread and angry all over China. It may seem that the recession of democracy will end or has already ended, but the ‘Spring’ in the countries ruled by dictators will be a welcome development, if it ends well (please note that 15 of the 16 countries in the last round of the ’16’ World Cup are democracies’).

China is important and interesting here. He crowned himself the leader ‘for a very long time’ and caused the transition from one party to one man, Xi Jinping’s hubris could not be greater (see the previous article ‘The Red Curtain’), and this has been pierced now. public call for him to resign.

Having enjoyed two easy years while the rest of the world suffered greatly, China is now in the grip of COVID, acutely in the context of a bureaucratic and heavy-handed government. Somehow it got little chance to choose. Chinese vaccinations are not as effective as in the West and a very large number of Chinese adults have not had a booster jab.

Public health

China does not have the public health infrastructure of the West. On a per capita basis, one in seven nurses Germany has, and one in ten ’emergency’ hospital beds in Germany (although, life expectancy in China exceeded that of the US this year, it is still behind the EU. ). It couldn’t handle a public health emergency – by the standards of how America handled COVID, China could have 4 million deaths, or 2.3 million using Taiwan as a benchmark. In this regard, a strict ban makes sense.

What is new, is that the ban has given many Chinese citizens a bitter taste

representation. In some cases, factory workers were treated in a way that made Oliver Twist’s trial look like a fun holiday. Granted that the shutdown may not end immediately and must endure until the spring in one form or another, two very important, long-term questions need to be answered.

The first is whether the manifestation of Xi Jinping’s independence strategy violates the patience of the Chinese people, and the contract between the people and the state (CCP). Second and related, is that autocracy is bad for productivity, and if so China is hitting a productivity wall and going backwards. In my opinion, in the grand scheme of strategic competition between China and the US, this is a far more important issue than a potential attack on Taiwan.


China’s growth is slowing and like many other countries it may be in recession. More importantly, the rate of growth has dropped significantly (3%) and given the worsening population, strong productivity is the key to high growth. That’s why democracy is a problem.

Dividing the educational work in this sector, democratic governance and increased productivity can go hand in hand in early developing economies, but as the different trends of North and South Korea show, the development of strong institutions and potential democracy, pays off in the economy. portion.

There is considerable evidence that political instability or sharp, negative changes in institutional quality can damage productivity. Turkey is another good example of a growing economy that is being undermined by entrenched autocracy and corruption.

At the other end of the spectrum, the most productive countries and new economies are those countries (the Nordics, Ireland, Switzerland for example) with the best ‘quality’ of democracy. They are an example of an open economy and an open society.

Cracks are now starting to appear in the Chinese model. That Jack Ma feels safe only in Tokyo suggests there are limits to business leadership in China. The property and shadow banking system is under pressure and China’s isolation from the rest of the world (politically, people’s movement) are some of the factors that will prevent innovation, risk-taking and productivity in China.

Any talk of ‘rising’ China is lost, and equally Taiwan’s location is not fundamental to China’s progress. However, if it is to become a dominant power its economy must develop structurally, and this is where autocracy may be the biggest obstacle China faces.


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