CHINA ME CONCERNED
o Jean-Luc Domenach
Perrin (Asies collection),
232 pages, 17 euros.
I you selected a book on China, in the abundance that the approach o the games, open this test o Jean-Marie Domenach. Excellent specialist o the Middle Kingdom, where it comes to a stay o se eral years, it excellent analyses o obser ations on li e. What the "concerned", it is, to summarize, the growing gap between the de elopment o the economy and o social wel are. And the detonator o the crisis may well be a slowdown o growth.
The latter was, as the most isible e ect, a rapid increase in re enues. Between 2002 and 2007, the a erage salary in Beijing rose 700 to about 1,400 Yuan. E en the 150 million "internal migrants", considered hitherto as a reser e o low-cost labour, obtain sensiti e increases and se eral pro inces ha e recently identi ied the minimum wage. There are also an embryo o social protection, including a ( ery modest) pension system, or the obligation or employers (since January) to establish employment contracts. In short, the cost o the work seems to increase: we see e en relocations o plants to the iet Nam...
Ironically, this de elopment makes social e il-be more unbearable. It o ers a stark contrast with the health status o the population: smoking kills annually 1.2 million people (about 320 million smokers...), hepatitis B, HI , occupational diseases are the ra ages and remembered the scandal o SARS. The absence o health insurance also helps explain the exceptionally high sa ings rate o Chinese households. Another aspect o the social malaise is the spectacular accentuation o inequalities between some millionaires Interamericano EUR 300 million people li ing on less than 1 dollar a day.
Which pro ided ar the cohesion o the building, it is growth. Since the re orms o Deng Xiaoping at the end o the 1970s, she has accustomed the successi e generations o Chinese to rely on a uture better than the present. It is, says the author, on the basis o the implicit contract between the people and political leaders. It is same, or the latter, the only source o legitimacy, in a system where Communism is more than a label. Support, not only the injustices o the social system is economic growth, but also corruption and nepotism that appear at the top, with the emergence (or persistence) o a ew "large amilies" related to the hierarchs and dominant important and lucrati e sectors o acti ity.
But this growth is ulnerable: sous-producti e agriculture, waste, banks o erburdened o bad debts not to mention the demographic ageing. But the primary danger is dependent on the outside, through exports, expansion engine, and oreign in estment (74 billion in 2007). It is the major source o concern is the slowdown in the US economy.
The breakdown o the expansion would ha e political consequences o e en more iolent than the "belts" o discontent is signi icantly enhanced. Multiply the local re olts, the power was more di icult to control trade between the 400 million Internet users, between 600 millions o owners o mobile phones. A sign: oreign books is booming. The Beijing authorities contribute themsel es to this mo ement by trying to promote a certain legal order and making a ew concessions on transparency: the consequences o the recent earthquake that de astated Sichuan and the assistance pro ided by oreign, ha e been amply pro ile, unlike a long tradition o opacity and closure in cases o natural disasters.
Is this book the Chronicle o an announced crisis The Chinese system, note the author, also has stabilizers its huge inancial reser es or e en the act that mid-managers and business leaders, closely related to political power, is not yet a thirsty bourgeoisie o emancipation. The book lea es open uture, but gi es the reader aluable key to decrypt the e ents.