The publication this month of a book based on last year’s conference, The Rise of China, represents the culmination of a broad effort at Mount Holyoke to come to grips with implications of China’s tremendous economic growth during the last three decades, according to economics professor Eva Paus. As director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, which organized the conference, and a coeditor of Global Giant: Is China Changing the Rules of the Game? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Paus has become acutely aware not only of the impact China’s growth is having on the world but also of the hunger among academics and policy makers to better understand its meaning. “The publisher sees this as a book it wants to run with,” Paus said. “It’s a hot topic.”
The structure of the book grew out of thinking that went into the planning of the conference, Paus said, which put a premium on looking at the issue from a variety of perspectives and disciplines with a goal of being “as comprehensive as possible.”
The other coeditors are Five College Professor of International Relations Jon Western and Penelope Prime, who directs the China Research Center at Mercer College in Atlanta. Speaking from his office at Mount Holyoke, Western said a big question the book grapples with is whether “China’s unprecedented growth rates over the last 30 years are sustainable economically, politically, and environmentally.”
The first set of chapters, Western said, focus on domestic challenges China, the world’s most populous nation, faces as a result of the sheer pace of growth. The second section looks at the impact this growth is having on the developing world.
“What makes China really unique is that it is an economy that competes simultaneously with much of the advanced industrialized world and it is also an economy that competes head on with much of the developing world,” Western said. The last section examines the geopolitical implications of China’s growth, especially as it competes for markets and scarce natural resources.
The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives hosts a major conference, which includes the publication of a book, every other year. The previous topic was outsourcing; next year’s discussion will center on migration. The idea for the China conference, according to Paus, came out of her work as a development economist. “I write on different aspects of globalization,” she said. “And I realized that you can’t write about that without getting a handle on China.”