Last class we began examining David Harvey’s perspective on China’s economic growth, and today we have a somewhat overlapping perspective from Justin Yifu Lin, Peking University professor and former Chief Economist at the World Bank.
We should pause to note Lin’s remarkable personal background (recounted by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker article “Boom Doctor”). Lin was born on Taiwan in 1952 and attended the nation’s top-ranking National Taiwan University where he was a student activist known for his nationalism (Taiwan should reclaim its lost UN seat, he argued). Before completing his first year at university, he transferred to a military academy and then went on to serve as a company commander on Jinmen (Quemoy) island at the front lines of Taiwan’s conflict with the People’s Republic. There,
. . . Lin’s thinking had already begun a sharp turn, and he had become preoccupied with one thought. “You want to make the Chinese prosperous, and most people in China are on the mainland,” he told me. “So if I come to the mainland I can make a larger contribution.”
On the night of May 16, 1979, Lin walked to the water’s edge, stepped out of his shoes, and waded into the Taiwan Strait. The current was swift and strong, but he had been studying the sea, and he timed his departure to avoid being pushed back to shore by the rising tide. “You need to go when it’s receding,” he recalled. “You need to cross the middle, and then the rising tide will carry you all the way over to the other side.” He swam freestyle, and floated on the current for nearly three hours. “When I reached the shore, I suspected there were some kinds of land mines, so I did not want to walk.” He carried a flashlight, and he signalled to Chinese troops on the shore. “They sent a soldier to arrest me.”
Lin went on to earn a doctorate in economics at George Washington University, going on to become an influential economist in China in the late 1980s, just as the mainland was “hungry for expertise.”
Activity on export-led growth:
Use the following online tool from MIT (external link) to examine China’s exports to the United States in the following years.
For each date, make a note of the total amount of exports from China to the United States and the composition of those exports. Then, consider:
Build a bibliography: