Forecasters of the fortunes of nations are no different from Wall Street analysts: they all rely on the past to predict the future. So it is no surprise that China’s rapid economic growth in the last thirty years has led many to believe that the country will be able to continue to grow at this astounding rate for another two to three decades. Optimism about China’s future is justified by the state’s apparently strong economic fundamentals—such as a high savings rate, a large and increasingly integrated domestic market, urbanization and deep integration into the global trading system. More important, China has achieved its stunning performance in spite of the many daunting economic, social and political difficulties that doomsayers have pointed to as insurmountable obstacles to sustainable growth in the past. With such a record of effective problem solving, it is hard to believe that China will not continue its economic rise.

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