Chang’s predictions of China’s collapse destroy his own credibility

By Shen Dingli Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-5 19:33:01

Gordon G. Chang, a Chinese-American lawyer, has made his usual prediction of China's upcoming collapse again. In an article he published in US magazine The National Interest last month, he, as always, boldly made a forecast that the collapse of China's economy will come at 2016. Chang has been predicting the "coming collapse of China" since at least 2001, when his book of the same title was published. Then he gave 2011 as an outside date. In 2011, he predicted a collapse in 2012.

Chang's current judgment is based on contradictions in Chinese economic development that are familiar to us all, including housing price, stock market, export, investment and debt. People all over the world have witnessed these problems, yet Chang dares to predict that 2016 will bring a collapse. Such a prognosis has surprised professional analysis organizations, who have no idea if Chang has some secret in his hand that nobody else knows.

Forecasting future politics and economy is the most challenging task in social science. Every five years, the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) makes such a prediction over global trend for the next 20 years. It requires substantial quantities of manpower, resources, professional analysis, and discussions among projects and organizations from both at home and abroad. A conclusion is carefully drawn only after opinions from each side are well received and heard. But in many reports made by the NIC, there was never the conclusion that the collapse of Chinese economy would arrive in the next 20 years, let along in the coming year.

We have no idea why Chang has made the prediction frequently. Does he have more precise data, or more advanced forecasting models? I am afraid not. If so, it is hardly necessary for the US government to continue the huge project at the cost of hundreds of people, years of time, and expensive price. It can totally outsource the job to Chang. Yet given Chang's unreliable remarks over the past decades on China's economy, there might be few people that are still willing to consult him.

While people look into the future of Chinese economy, they would adopt a rigorous approach, but Chang has showed his paranoid stance over and over again. Indeed, China's economy is under the pressure of a downturn, its government has also set 6.5 percent growth as the new floor in the next five-year-plan. However, it is still a very considerable speed for a major economy, and is expected to be three times as fast as expected US economy growth.

Chang has made predictions repeatedly and than failed time and again. That is because he has either disguised his true intentions or made the analysis based on a disordered mentality. The development of China has its own logic, which is making Chinese people live well.

Zero-sum games exists everywhere in international relations, but an increasing number of relationships based on cooperation and mutual benefits have been emerging. As China develops, other countries will undoubtedly feel the pressure of competition. But China is developing through collaboration, and others will inevitably profit from jointly working with China. Otherwise, there would be no basis for cooperation. When China's steps are slowing, other nations will also be influenced by it. In the era of a globalized economy, any expectations that wish itself win but its partners lose are fond dream.

Although China's economic growth is experiencing a downturn, it is still growing much faster than the US. Interpreting the downturn as possible collapse is the reason why Chang's forecasts have all failed. If Chang's logic works, the economy in quite a few countries, including the US, should have crumbled long ago. Given Chang's radical ideological tendency, he has overlooked many factors that can explain why Chinese economy will not collapse. He raised that China has to reform to avoid risks, yet  in the meantime turned a deaf ear to the fact that the nations is now rapidly deepening its reforms. China has already entered a deep reform era of systematic innovation and structural transformation, and it will take only a year to further batter Chang's credibility.

The author is deputy dean of the Institute of International Studies at Shanghai's Fudan University.

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