Quel avenir pour la Chine ?

BEIJING – Avec un revenu par habitant de 3800 dollars, la Chine est maintenant passée dans la catégorie des pays à revenus moyens. Mais, tandis que les économistes et stratèges politiques s’évertuent, en extrapolant la croissance future de la Chine, à prédire quand elle rattrapera les Etats-Unis, l’humeur était sombre et introvertie en Chine en 2010. En fait, le Premier ministre Wen Jiabao a estimé que la croissance chinoise était « instable, déséquilibrée, non coordonnée et en fin de compte non durable ».

La croissance économique n’a bien sûr jamais été linéaire, dans aucun pays. Il existe, tout au long de l’histoire, d’innombrables exemples de pays à revenus moyens qui sont restés embourbés dans cette catégorie pendant des décennies pour ensuite retomber dans la catégorie des pays à bas revenus. Comme l’a souligné le lauréat du prix Nobel en sciences économiques Michael Spence, après la Seconde guerre mondiale, seuls quelques pays ont pu atteindre un stade de développement industrialisé avancé.

Les progrès enregistrés par la Chine ces trois dernières décennies sont une variation réussie du modèle de croissance est-asiatique né des conditions initiales établies par une économie socialiste planifiée. Mais ce modèle de croissance a presque épuisé son potentiel. La Chine est donc aujourd’hui à une croisée des chemins : sans ajustements structurels difficiles, elle pourrait subitement perdre son élan de croissance économique.

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