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China and Its Western Critics

Contrary to popular belief in the West, China's trial-and-error approach to policymaking supports accountability. In fact, the evidence shows that Chinese policy is responsive to feedback from the Chinese people and the international community, with leaders correcting mistakes and updating policies as they gain new information.

HONG KONG – In Washington, DC, a bipartisan consensus about China has emerged: the United States is facing a trade-manipulating, authoritarian intellectual-property thief that represents a strategic threat to the US and its allies and deserves to be punished. But the consensus is wrong. In fact, China deserves recognition, if not appreciation, for its achievements.

In recent decades, China has made unprecedented contributions to global economic growth and green innovation, lifting more than 800 million people out of poverty since it began its “reform and opening up” in the late 1970s. China – and the world – owes this success to the authorities’ experimental approach to policymaking, characterized by trial and error and constant adaptation.

Contrary to popular belief in the West, where democratic elections are typically regarded as essential to holding governments responsible for their policies, China’s approach supports accountability. Indeed, the evidence shows that policymaking is responsive to feedback from both the Chinese people and the international community, with leaders correcting mistakes and updating outdated measures as they gain new information.

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