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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 20 novembre 2012 alle ore 14:29.


STANFORD – Political leadership transitions typically signal either a change in direction or continuity. But the mere prospect of such a transition usually postpones some important political decisions and freezes some economic activity, pending the resolution of the accompanying uncertainty.

China’s decennial leadership transition, culminating at the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Congress, is a case in point. And, while many will remember when a Chinese leadership transition was a political and cultural curiosity that had few direct economic implications for the world’s major powers, those days are long gone.

China is now the world’s second-largest economy, and, despite a recent slowdown to 7% annual GDP growth, it is outperforming all other major players. It remains the vital assembly center of the global supply chain for many manufactured goods, such as computers and cell phones, enabling lower prices for the world’s consumers. That has made China a key trade partner for the United States, most European countries, and many other economies, in addition to placing it at the center of intra-Asian trade and supply-chain dynamics.

Moreover, China sits on roughly – much of it in dollars, but also in other major currencies – owing to its large trade surplus in recent decades. It helps to finance other countries’ trade deficits and domestic investment (many of its beneficiaries have large budget deficits that decrease national saving below domestic investment).

Deng Xiaoping’s reforms ignited the most rapid economic improvement in human history and, with it, the emergence of a large and growing middle class. That makes China an important market opportunity for a broad range of foreign firms – including car producers, technology suppliers, financial institutions, energy companies, and agricultural exporters. And Chinese firms – too often state-owned – are seeking greater investment opportunities abroad in major industries, particularly energy.

A byproduct of China’s spectacular growth has been rising economic tensions with other countries. China’s exchange-rate policy and its were major issues in America’s presidential election, and concerns over Chinese foreign investment are ubiquitous. The World Trade Organization upheld , and Canada has extended its review of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s bid to acquire Nexen, a Canadian oil and gas producer. Despite China’s WTO membership, many foreign companies face restrictions on expanding in China or must cooperate with a Chinese company.

The Chinese, for their part, complain about foreign trade practices and are taking some cases (for example, a long-running ) to the WTO, where cases brought against China by other countries are proliferating. All sides, however, must bear in mind that China is too important to the global economy and trading system to allow these disputes to spin out of control.

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