China's Authoritah

Tim Lee reflects on the country's impressive growth:

China is going through roughly the same phase of technological development that the Western world passed through in the first half of the 20th century: the country has mastered the basics of industrialization and are reaping huge gains from economies of scale and a more educated workforce. The engineers and bureaucrats who are organizing ever-more-impressive feats of industrial production have, like their Western counterparts of a century ago, convinced themselves that a society can be planned in the same manner that a factory floor can be.

This is unlikely to be any more true in China than it was in the West; it turns out that people don’t like being treated like interchangeable cogs in a vast machine. But as in the West, it will take a while for ordinary people to figure out how to organize themselves to effectively resist these schemes.

The NYT has an interesting companion piece on China's approach to energy efficiency. Fallows introduces a new correspondent, Damien Ma, who will mainly cover environmental news - "arguably the very most important category of news for China's own future prospects and for its impact on the rest of the world."