I wrote China’s Change: The Greatest Show on Earth to answer one question. This is the most common question foreign investors, media and some academicshave posed forover two decades.When Will China Collapse? Not that I thought it might but I could not rebut the question completely.
The more I learned about the economy the more I knew I was missing some key factor. Steadily, I realised critics overlooked policy formulation and implementation. For this, China had learned from its past, especially from the history that has shaped its philosophy, which in turn influenced its governance and economics.Suddenly, the penny dropped. Change: that is what China understands unlike any other country. Such a common idea, it is so easy to miss: hiding in clear sight. One foreign academic even calls the Yi Jing, the Chinese book.
China’s Change identifies three main components of the process for successful change: goals, means and people. The same principles apply to government, firms or individuals. These provide a framework for understanding change. Goals must be very few and clear: stability and harmony are examples. Means involves crystalising the goals’main ideas through vision, long-term thinking, extensive research and a 360-degree approach. These help avoid damaging, unintended consequences. Third is people: their education, integrity and accountability.
Once goals are identified, pilot schemes are tested to uncover major flaws. The right sequencing of measures and flexibility, not just the ideas themselves, can be critical to success. With that done, policy roll out begins. The emphasis is on gradualism and restraint, not big bang solutions,as often in the West; pragmatism, not rigid ideology; and continual review, weixin, among others. In all, China’s Change lists 20 Essential Ideas that drive the process of change.