Monday, April 21, 2014
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中国的稳定话题

北京—我从20世纪90年代末开始关注中国,我从中学到的第一条原则就是,在中国,稳定压倒一切,不管是经济、社会还是政治。

中国饱经上千年动乱,因此今天的中国领导人将竭尽全力保证稳定。每当我认为中国会出现潜在的政策变化时,我都会用稳定性来检查可能的选择,屡试不爽。

在3月17—20日举行的一年一度的中国发展论坛(CDF)上,稳定占据着每一位与会者的头脑。这次论坛由温家宝总理主持,多位国务院所属部长出席,是中国最重要的国际会议。但是,就在今年CDF召开前两天,颇具争议的重庆市委书记薄熙来被免去了职务。薄熙来本是进入中共中央政治局常委的有力竞争者,他的突然去职令人震惊。我们在钓鱼台国宾馆开会的时候,明显地感觉到暗流在涌动。

会议的正式部分按部就班地进行,着重强调了即将采取的针对增长模式的结构性改革——从过去32年的完全依靠出口和投资的增长向更依赖消费的模式的巨大转变。中国高层领导已经形成了广泛的一致,将促进再平衡。正如一位与会者所言,“争论已经从做什么转变为何时开始做。”

许多其他主题都是围绕这一大前提展开的。向服务拉动型增长转变以及基于创新的发展战略尤其令人瞩目。与此同时,最近强势复现的国有企业也是吸引了相当多的关注——着眼点在国民收入分配从以劳动为基础向以资本为基础的转变,这也是中国偏向消费的再平衡目标的主要障碍。世界银行和中国发展研究中心(CDF主办单位)刚刚发布了一份如何修正这一关键问题的诸多方面的详细报告。

但CDF的正式进程与钓鱼台国宾馆内的真正关注点一点关系都没有。关于薄熙来及其在今年——领导层过渡的关键之年——免职对中国国内政治的影响的内容只字未提。打听关于随后发生的宫廷阴谋的流言并非难事,而我认为,薄熙来的免职意义深远。

中国的官员面临着政治和经济不稳定相互交织的风险。过去三年中,中国经历了两次外部需求的打击——先是美国次贷危机,然后是现在的欧洲主权债务危机——此时爆发内部政治动荡将产生严重得多的危险。

薄熙来就是这一风险的写照。他鼓吹所谓的“重庆模式”——一种近年来在中国颇为得势的国家资本主义,即将权力集中在地方领导人和国企手中的政府引导的城市化和经济发展。

去年夏天,我在重庆呆了一段时间。这是一个有着3400万人口的超级都市。重庆市计划之宏伟令我颇为震惊。重庆计划由市长黄奇帆谱写,他也是上海浦东开发项目的主要缔造者。重庆计划的目标是将重庆两江地区打造为中国首个内陆城市开发区。这将使两江区与已有的两个沿海示范区——浦东和天津滨海区并驾齐驱。

但该计划正属于在今年的CDF上受到口诛笔伐的国家主导发展模式,亦与中国高层领导人普遍认同的市场导向替代模式相悖。换句话说,薄熙来不仅被认为是政治稳定的威胁,同时也被视为经济动荡模式的主要代表。如此突然地免去薄熙来的职务实际上是中央政府对稳定承诺的坚定不移的强调。

这与中国谜团的另一个有趣部分相契合。五年前,温家宝发出过著名的警告:中国经济正面临着“不稳定、不平衡、不协调、不可持续”的危险。我一再强调,温家宝的“四不”警告对促进消费的“下一个中国”战略的形成是至关重要的。温家宝的批评为中国扫清了再平衡之路上的障碍。

但在今年CDF的正式讲话中,中国高层领导人——包括未来总理李克强——并未明言任何“不稳定”的中国经济风险。简言之,四不已经变为了三不。

在中国,这种用语变化绝非偶然。最有可能的解释是,高层已经无法容忍任何在稳定问题上的让步了。通过用促进消费的再平衡解决经济不稳定问题以及用免职薄熙来解决政治不稳定问题,稳定已经从一个风险因素转变为铁板一块了。

中国领导层的中心意思已经再无可疑了。他们是首批承认增长和发展战略正处在关键的十字路口的领导人。他们担心,邓小平的“改革开放”政策有失去动力的危险。通过消除经济和政治风险相互作用给稳定带来的危险,中国政府已经为下一波超凡发展阶段铺平了道路。在我看来,质疑他们能否达到这一目标是不明智的。

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  1. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    I see in this pro-consumer –domestic rebalancing as opposed to labor intensive exports a new challenge for the developed world as in this dynamic the biggest impact would be on ‘dollar savings’ that China orchestrates, the gluttony of which impedes on the interest rates to zoom as the marginal savings rate helps to leeway to the float that U.S. Treasury needs. This will further direct the economy to raise its wage rates as the domestic sector would get the much needed fillip from the rise in the domestic demand. This will be the tipping point, for China, its impact on the rest of the world needs to be evaluated.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  2. CommentedMilo Jones

    For a banker, the author evinces an extraordinary faith in the ability of the Chinese leadership to control and manage the Chinese economy. Given how little they know about so many aspects of it, their perverse incentives, and the surety that the unintended consequences of any policy will outstrip the intended consequences, I wouldn't be so sure that stability can be maintained. After all, even the degree of urbanization in China is both uncertain and subject to widespread manipulation and misrepresentation (See "“Facts” Everybody Knows – Statistical Cautions about the BRICs: http://silberzahnjones.com/2011/04/08/statistical-cautions/).

  3. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    This desperate attempt by the Chinese leaders, described in the article reflects our human concern, that we always try to remain in control, that we feel ourselves above the system we live in and believe we can direct everything around us, mostly by force and coercion, keeping a tight grip on things.
    At the same time what we learn through the global crisis is that even institutions we ourselves created, our social, political or economical system just to mention the most obvious, are slipping through our fingers, are falling apart, and we are standing after our whole evolution so far, at the point of not knowing who we are and where we are, and especially where we should be heading.
    So does this mean that the western point of view, especially the US Republican point of view asking for total freedom, minimal central control, that everybody can basically do whatever they like is the right approach, or the "balanced European" approach is the right one?
    Unfortunately none of them are correct. It does not matter which approach we choose until we do not understand the vast natural system we are just part of, and we do not accept that in order to succeed, to have a sustainable future and to survive we need to harmonize ourselves with this system.
    Our inherent human nature is all about subjective self calculations, maximum self profit with minimum or zero concern for others or for the environment we exist in.
    The vast natural system around us is based and is surviving by homoeostasis, all the elements of the system (except humans) instinctively following this law of overall harmony and mutuality.
    Even our healthy human body is based on the same principles, still when it comes to how we relate to each other or to the environment around us we fall back into our selfish, egoistic nature.
    Today as even humanity has evolved into the global, integral network, from which none of us can escape, break out, we cannot ignore the laws of integral systems.
    It is as if so far "we were given" a loose, free playground, a vacuum where we could experiment with different models, go through different stages, but from now on the "playtime" is over and we need to mature and adapt to the system.
    The Chinese leaders are not alone in their search for the perfect formula for the future, the whole of humanity is in it together.
    And as it happens in global, integral systems the answers can only come when we truly start to cooperate, in a mutually responsible fashion, for the benefit of the whole system, taking into consideration all of its elements.

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