There are two classic arguments that tangle up our thinking on China. The first: “China has developed faster because it is a Communist dictatorship, we haven't been able to do as much because we are a democracy.“ The second: “We have so much corruption, that's the root cause of the mess around.“ Both are red herrings.Democracy is not divorced from development (look no further than the G6 nations) and neither are Communist dictatorships a guarantee for progress (North Korea is a case in point). As for corruption, China is in the same league as India according to Transparency International--not a good thing by any means, but my point is, corruption hasn't slowed the China train.
Another pet fear: Does opening the doors to foreigners kill local businesses? Not in China. Chinese businesses are thriving--Haier, Huawei, Lenovo, Li Ning, Taobao, to name just a few--usually by playing the twin trump cards of competitive pricing and catering to local preferences. The lively sparring between Starbucks and 85C--which sells a cup of coffee at half the Starbucks price, and offers bakery products that appeal to the Chinese palate (anyone for sponge cakes coated in pork floss?) demonstrates how the tables are being turned on Western brands. 85C has 150 cafés on the mainland, 320 in Taiwan-- where it is headquartered--and plans to open another 1,000 cafés by 2015.
Excerpts from an article by Radha Chadha.