In Praise of the Chinese Way

Ann Lee believes China's best practices are a good model for other nations.

Over the past 33 years since China started its reform and opening-up policy, the country has looked to the West in its modernization drive. The zest for learning has been reflected in almost every area of society.
Most Chinese and Westerners believe China has all the things to learn from the outside world and few have fathomed that the West should also learn from China.
Not according to Ann Lee, a professor of finance and economics at New York University and a senior fellow at Demos, a non-partisan public policy think tank.
In her new book What the US Can Learn from China: An Open-Minded Guide to Treating Our Greatest Competitor as Our Greatest Teacher, Lee argues that sharing some of China's best practices and enduring principles can help foster much-needed change at home and could prove beneficial for sustainable economic growth and development around the world.
Lee says China has become a convenient scapegoat for American economic problems and the nations in the West have often overlooked these practices because they assume that China stands for values that are the polar opposite of their own. In many cases that is wrong.
Lee agrees that the book is biased. "It's not as if I think China can do no wrong. It's about best practices. Why would I talk about things that are not good, which is not the point of the book?"
The book lists a host of principles in areas such as education, Confucianism, work ethic, banking practices and even soft power and the ways government officials are selected as models that Lee believes the United States can learn from.
For example, contrary to the conventional wisdom in the West, Lee argues that China's leaders have earned their authority through a lifetime of meritocratic service that is far from arbitrary. "Their system of earned authority actually resonates strongly with Western values, is surprisingly popular with its population, and may even be used to strengthen today's democratic institutions.