This comparison is almost becoming a clich�. But, still, it is an interesting one and potentially enlightening, if handled properly.
This book Asia’s Giants: Comparing China and India got a good review in the current Foreign Affairs, which came in the mail today.
Palgrave’s catalog page: says this:
This edited volume reconsiders the conventional wisdom, which argues that comparative performance (in economic, social, political, as well as diplomatic arenas) of China has been superior to that of India. The book brings together ‘new paradigms’ for evaluating the comparative performance of two countries. Essays show that if not outright wrong, conventional wisdom has proven to be overly simplified. The book brings out the complexity and richness of the India-China comparison.
Any challenge to this conventional wisdom is greatly appreciated. The FA review says the issue of China’s unreliable statistics is addressed, and its about time, too!
“Complexity and richness” are nice buzzwords. I am waiting for someone to make the point that Jim Bennett has repeatedly made, e.g. here:
There�s a link between strength of civil society and civil society institutions and entrepreneurism and prosperity. If this is true at all, and it just seems to be overwhelmingly true, sooner or later India is going to overtake China in the nature and pace of its economic development, and I think shortly after it overtakes it, it�s going to far outstrip it.
I think that India�the rise of India is going to be one of the big stories of the 21st century and the relative problems of China, once they get another two or three decades down the road, is going to be another big story and one that a lot of people aren�t expecting. All you�re�people are mesmerized by the growth curves in China right now. They see pictures of the big skyscrapers in Pudong and, you know, they�re extremely impressed by this, but they�re not looking the fact that China is on the wrong side of a huge transition problem.
If you look at these transition problems in small countries like Taiwan and South Korea, which have very similar social structures, this was a big crisis. It was a huge crisis in Japan, which is not so similar, but had some similar issues, and it led to a, you know, major world war.
China�s got big problems. I hope they work through them peacefully, without an enormous amount of disruptions; but, you know, I�m not going to lay odds on that it�s anything like 80 percent chance of success there. I think they�ve got a 50-50 chance of getting through their democratic transition without major problems and disruption, which are going to be I think the big international crisis of the 2030 or 2040.
China is, as of now, still on the wrong side of a politico-legal transition that India has already made over the course of two centuries. Leaping that chasm is a problem that Japan and Korea, for example, have both made, and not without much turmoil. China will probably not be able to “scale up Singapore” and have developmental autocracy forever. The predation and corruption in this system will choke off growth unless the Chinese move ahead with real reforms at some point, that actually cede power from the gang that runs the place now. China has some major challenges ahead and everybody is just whistling and looking the other way. Meanwhile, India has hidden strengths which will, I hope, surprise the world.