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IR Working Paper 2003/1 (PDF, 2.35MB)
Stuart Harris, ‘Does China Matter? The Global Economic Issues’, IR Working Paper 2003/1, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Affairs, The Australian National University, September 2003.
In 1999, Gerry Segal, then Director of Research at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, wrote an article in Foreign Affairs entitled ‘Does China matter?’ His article ranged across economic, political and strategic issues but his overall conclusion was that China’s importance had been greatly exaggerated. As far as economic questions were concerned, Segal saw China as a small market ‘that matters little to the world, especially outside Asia’.
This paper argues that while Segal was correct in the view that there had been considerable exaggeration of China’s economic weight, mostly outside of China, his generalisation now needs qualification. The paper considers the standard economic comparisons across countries such as GDP, trade and investment volumes and other areas of China’s growing global economic involvement. It also deals with issues such as the accuracy of China’s growth statistics. It concludes with the idea that China does now matter to the world both for its substance and for its evident potential.