September 16: The New China

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September 16, 2011: William Overholt

The New China

WASHINGTON, DC (September 27, 2011) “China has changed in ways we haven’t caught up with yet in recent years,” argued Dr. William Overholt in his seminar on “The New China”, at the East West Center in Washington. Dr. Overholt described how dramatically China has changed since the 1990s, and not just in terms of economic significance. Members of China’s leadership have changed from charismatic, entrepreneurial figures to administrators. A trend toward centralized power has been reversed by the rise of interest group and regional influence. Formerly rapid political reform has ceased. An economy of growth at any price, rapid marketization, seemingly limitless cheap labor, superior coastal growth, and rapid emergence of small and medium enterprises has been superseded by profound concern for environmental and social problems, labor scarcity, superior interior growth, and a severe financial squeeze on all but the largest state enterprises. Because of these factors, he explained that a geopolitics of caution, lack of confidence and emphasis on growth at the expense of foreign ambitions has given way to far greater hubris and assertiveness.

William H. Overholt is a senior research fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (Ash Center). Previously, he was director of the Center for Asia Pacific Policy at RAND Corp. During his 21 years heading investment bank research teams, mostly in Asia, he served as managing director and head of research at Bankers Trust in Hong Kong, and as the head of Asia strategy and economics at Nomura's regional headquarters in Hong Kong. He also spent eight years at the Hudson Institute, where he managed research projects for the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, NASA, among other government offices, and was director of a business consulting subsidiary. Dr. Overholt is the author of six books, most notably Asia, America and the Transformation of Geopolitics (2008) and The Rise of China (1993), along with books on risk analysis and strategic planning. He received his B.A. from Harvard and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale.###