The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Brazil, Russia, India, China – BRIC. The acronym was pushed as a hot investment idea in the heady 2000s. Back then, before the financial crisis, steady economic growth was expected to last forever in rich and poor countries alike, with poor countries growing much faster. Jim O’Neill, then of Goldman Sachs, simplified the theme for the investing masses. The four biggest developing economies were on the smooth road to riches, and investors could hop on for a profitable ride.
“We should no longer evaluate the performance of leaders simply by GDP growth. Instead, we should look at welfare improvement, social development and environmental indicators.” That is a fine piece of wisdom from Xi Jinping, China’s president. Leaders of developed economies can learn from it.
Speeches by Chinese Communist Party leaders are great opportunities to play “buzzword bingo”. Hu Jintao’s July 23 policy summary was replete with such phrases as “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, “Deng Xiaoping Theory” and “Scientific Outlook on Development”. But the sloganising is more than empty rhetoric. The speech, echoed elsewhere, shows the outgoing leader wants the CCP, and the country, to escape from might be called a Marxist trap.
As a slogan, the Three Represents was puzzling. It was in 2000 that Jiang Zemin decided that the once revolutionary Chinese Communist Party would represent the private sector, which he called “advanced productive forces”; along with its traditional constituencies of intellectuals (“advanced culture”) and workers (“the overwhelming majority of the people”).