China Rises: Getting Rich
New York Times Documentary (2013)
“How China Backs Its Enormous Economic Success”
China Rises purports to uncover the secret of China’s phenomenal economic success. It traces the massive migration of rural peasants into scores of newly fabricated cities and industrial centers. Of the thousands of new factories springing up over the last thirty years, half are privately owned and half are state owned enterprises. Most manufacture consumer goods (clothes, electronic gadgets, shoes, textiles, heavy appliances, household goods, toys, watches) for export.
The filmmakers attribute China’s economic miracle to their newfound openness to private enterprise and their ridiculously low wages. At the time the documentary was made, the average Chinese wage was 60 cents an hour for a 12 hour day. By the end of last year, this had increased to $1.69 an hour Rising Chinese Wages
Most of the film focuses on the lavish lifestyles of China’s most famous self-made millionaires. There are also several interviews with rural peasants who have migrated to China’s designer cities to work. Most are extremely grateful for the opportunity to earn money to lift their families out of extreme poverty. Women, however, tend to be sad about being separated from their children – their earnings aren’t sufficient to bring them to the city, so they are cared for by grandparents in the rural villages.
The film also features segments about China’s emerging middle class learning to pamper themselves and China’s rampant knock-off industry, specializing in counterfeit luxury items, fake birth control pills, fake antibiotics and even fake milk powder. The latter caused 54,000 Chinese babies to be hospitalized (six died) in 2008.
Ignoring the Real Reason for China’s Stellar Growth
What I find most significant about this video is what it leaves out. In fact, it totally ignores the main impetus for China’s phenomenal growth – namely a monetary policy that doesn’t rely on borrowing money from private banks.
As of February 2014, China had only borrowed a total of $US 823 billion from foreign banks – about 9% of GDP. In contrast, the debt the US owes to private banks is 101.5% of GDP.
Unlike most western economies, 90% of the loans used to finance businesses and government services originate from China’s government-run central bank.* Bloomberg’s refers to it as “Chinese-style” quantitative easing, ie the Chinese government is creating the money out of thin air, rather than borrowing it from private banks (and paying them interest to create it out of thin air).
This differs from US-style quantitative easing in that the Chinese government spends the money they create directly into the economy instead of handing it over to private banks.
Despite Obama’s recent attacks on China for “weakening their currency,” neither the President nor the corporate effort make any effort to explain exactly how the Chinese are doing this. The explanation is actually fairly simple: pumping more yuan/renminbi into the Chinese economy causes inflation and weakens the currency’s value in relation to other global currencies.
The corporate media glosses over these details because they don’t really want Americans to understand where US dollars come from – that 97% of the dollars in circulation are created by banks out of thin air and loaned to us at interest. Or that depending on private banks to create and control our money supply is a big reason for our current economic crisis. See Stripping Banks of Their Power to Issue Money
They especially don’t want us to realize there’s an alternative – government-issued currency by a government owned central bank – nor that it’s working miracles for the Chinese economy.
*Contrary to popular belief, the US central bank, aka the Federal Reserve, is a consortium of private banks overseen by a government appointed director (Janet Yellen).