Xi’s Changing Plan

Not Just Wrong but Incredibly Wrong

Down on the Farm

Imploding Superblocks

Traumatic Ends

Travel Plans, Over My Shoulder, and Birthdays

Six months ago, few Americans had heard of Evergrande. Now many worry this Chinese property developer’s downfall will start an economically devastating chain reaction.

They’re right about the chain reaction part, but I don’t think it will “devastate” anyone outside China (unless they have business there). Nonetheless, this episode exposes some other China issues worth discussing.

A few months ago in Xi’s Big Mistake, I said Beijing risked killing the entrepreneurial activity that had spurred the country’s rapid growth. As we learn more, this is looking less like a mistake and more like a mistakenly-conceived plan.

It’s hard to be sure because Chinese plans unfold so slowly. Leaders like Xi also don’t panic when their plans encounter difficulty. They patiently wait to get back on track, maybe nudging events along here and there. As long as society is stable and the regime not threatened, they just let it unfold. This opacity makes understanding China from the outside difficult.