A visitor, Gordon Silliker, has left us the following comment, all the more interesting because it's based on first-hand observations in China. The buggy response follows.
Having been to China as recently as last year, I think anyone who predicts China meeting or surpassing the wealth of the United States or Europe anytime in the next 50-100 years needs to get their head out of the books and go take a look. China is like a million square-mile Tijuana. It is poverty-stricken, dirty, shoddy, and crowded. If you go into the countryside there are scores of people who live the same as they did 300 years ago, except for a counterfeit Nike shirt and a baseball cap perhaps. The only way for China to become a wealthy nation will be for the billion or so Chinese people to do it for themselves, because there are just so many Chinese people, and they are so poor, that any concentrated government-led effort would never address the magnitude of the task that is making China rich.
THE BUGGY RESPONSE:
Thanks for the first-hand comments, Mr Silliker. They are matched by what others encounter, provided they travel in places other than Hong Kong, the coastal booming cities of the southern coast, and Beijing.
More generally, for all the big epochal changes under way since 1978, they add up, it seems, to a very lopsided growth record. A few regions have flourished, most haven't; the countryside where over a third of the population still finds a livelihood has been badly neglected since the early 1980s; huge inequalities in income across social classes have occurred; unemployment is probably around 20%; the state-dominated enterprises in the northern rust-belt continue to gobble up Chinese savings, funneled by bad-debt ridden state banks, to stave off bankruptcy; the environment has suffered badly; and no social security safety net looks like emerging soon. Probably about half the Chinese population has gained, on balance, from the changes since 1978; and the other half either hasn't and been hurt. In the process, as the buggy article tries to show, the CP has transformed itself into a self-serving engine of corruption and wealth-grabbing on a vast scale, all the while clinging to its power and prestige as social tensions mount and political alienation proceeds apace.