(K. Brent Tomer),
Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China. By Julian Gewirtz. Harvard University Press; 389 pages; $39.95. To be published in Britain on January 31st.
IN 1985 James Tobin, a Nobel laureate in economics, delivered a talk at a conference in China. Mao had died less than a decade earlier and modern economic concepts, shorn of socialism, were still unfamiliar to many in the country, including the interpreter on this occasion. Struggling to find the right words, she burst into tears. Two conference participants stepped aside after Tobin spoke and, on the spot, devised the Chinese term for “macroeconomic management”. Future interpreters would have it easier.
Chinese officials and academics, especially those with a reformist bent, were acutely aware of their tenuous grasp on economics at the time. Five years earlier, Deng Xiaoping, the country’s paramount leader, had put it bluntly when meeting Robert McNamara, president of the World Bank: “We have lost touch with the world.”
With China’s economic rise now into its fourth decade, it is…Continue reading