“The hardest challenge in making sense of China’s potential is balancing an awareness of its strengths and possibilities with an appreciation of the obstacles and pitfalls it confronts. Damien Ma and William Adams have found a wonderful, original, and convincing way to portray this tension between China’s strengths and its vulnerabilities. I hope that anyone who plans to do business with, or even think about, China will read their book.”
—James Fallows, The Atlantic Monthly, author of China Airborne
“If you want to know what keeps Chinese President Xi Jinping awake at night, read this book. It describes the daunting economic, environmental, social, and political problems facing China with lively, jargon-free writing and highly informative facts and graphs. A readable, balanced and comprehensive account that I’ll recommend to anyone traveling or doing business in China, and to college teachers.”
—Susan L. Shirk, Chair, 21st Century China Program, Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, UC-San Diego
“Looking at China through the lens of scarcity rather than abundance is like seeing an infrared picture of a familiar landscape; all sorts of unfamiliar features pop out. Ma and Adams offer a comprehensive, absorbing, and richly detailed account of the many problems on China’s horizon, without falling into boosterism or prophecies of doom. Above all, they underline time and again how China’s scarcities will reshape the global landscape. A valuable read.”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University; former director of Policy Planning, United States Department of State
“Damien Ma and William Adams provide an important lens for understanding China’s realities and its future potential. While most of the world’s attention has focused on China’s astonishing growth, Ma and Adams concentrate on the various types of scarcity—from physical resources to social capital to values and political institutions—that confront its leaders and citizens alike. The volume paints a realistic and sobering picture of the country’s profound challenges; it then concludes by placing the future squarely in the hands of political leaders who can still tap huge unrealized potential if they boldly adopt the right reforms. Overall, a stimulating and provocative analysis.”
—Kenneth Lieberthal, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
“If you think of China as a country of unstoppable economic and political might, read this book and reflect again. Plain sailing does not lie ahead for Beijing. Adams and Ma argue convincingly that dealing with resource scarcities, as well as social and environmental problems, will almost inevitably replace maintaining high output growth as Beijing’s principal preoccupation. Their picture of social and economic conditions in China today and challenges facing the country is in my view remarkably accurate, comprehensive, and up-to-date. The economic miracle of the past three decades has not only reduced poverty on an unprecedented scale, but also generated social tensions and scarcities of many things, including clean air and water, arable land, many raw materials and public goods such as social justice, social security, food-, drug-, and workplace safety, healthcare and education services. The book explains the paradox of rapidly rising living standards on the one hand and growing social unrest and mistrust on the other. It also points to the international spillover effects of scarcities in China. A very readable and important new book on China.”
—Pieter Bottelier, Senior adjunct professor, Johns Hopkins University; former chief of World Bank Resident Mission in Beijing
“The authors decipher, in a very crucial way, what will really drive China as it becomes the largest economy in the world. China’s pace of growth will not be the issue, but understanding the levers of government, society, and business in China is instrumental for anybody who wants to be part of such an unprecedented growth story. A must read for business executives who are serious about doing business in China in the coming decades.”
—Mark Goyens, Former Asia President of Bekaert, currently business advisor to multinational corporations on growth strategies for China, based in Shanghai
“This book, which draws on the authors’ many years of living in China and their close personal and professional relationships there, is not just another polemic damning or praising China. It instead illuminates the realities and anxieties of a country poorly understood beyond its borders.”
—Zhang Bin, Senior Fellow, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Head, Department of Global Macroeconomics, CASS Institute of World Economics and Politics
China will soon have the world’s largest economy. But that’s the least important thing to know about China. This book reveals why China’s economic growth will constrain it, not empower it–and why China’s future will be shaped by the same reality that has shaped it for millennia: scarcity.
Damien Ma and William Adams drill deep into Chinese society, illuminating each of the scarcities that could limit China’s power and stall its progress. Beyond scarcities of natural resources and public goods, they explore China’s persistent poverties of individual freedoms, institutions, and ideological appeal–and the corrosive loss of values amongst a growing middle class shackled by a parochial and inflexible political system.
Everyone knows “the 21st century is China’s to lose”–but everyone’s wrong. Ma and Adams get beyond cheerleading and fear-mongering to tell the whole complex truth about China. These are truths you need to hear–whether you’re an investor, business decision-maker, policymaker, or citizen.
Will China dominate?
Can China survive?
Understand all the sources of scarcity reshaping China’s future:
• Social welfare
Damien Ma (Chicago, Illinois) is currently Fellow at The Paulson Institute, where he focuses on investment and policy programs, as well as the Institute’s research and think tank activities. Previously, Ma was a lead China analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk research and advisory firm. He specialized in analyzing the intersection between Chinese policies and markets, with a particular focus on energy and commodities, industrial policy, U.S.-China relations, and social and Internet policies. Before joining Eurasia Group, Ma was a manager of publications at the U.S.-China Business Council in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Atlantic Monthly Online and has been published widely, including in Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Slate, and Foreign Policy. Ma is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
William Adams (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is currently Senior International Economist for The PNC Financial Group. At PNC, Adams serves as spokesman on global economic issues and is responsible for its forecasts for China, other major emerging markets, and the Eurozone. Formerly resident economist at The Conference Board China Center, Adams has published extensively on China’s economic and financial reforms. He is a center associate and advisory board member of the University of Pittsburgh Asia Studies Center and a member of the economics advisory board of the Duquesne University Palumbo Donahue School of Business.