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The Economist Article with Vocabulary
Economic reform in China : Unnatural selection
THE 40-year process of reforming China’s economy has seen occasional retreats. But the general trajectory has seemed plain enough: towards a greater role for market forces. Since the early 1980s, private business has grown far faster and been much more profitable than the state sector. Back then state companies were responsible for roughly four-fifths of output; now they account for less than a fifth.
President Xi Jinping’s commitment in 2013 to give market forces “a decisive role” in allocating resources seemed to presage more of the same. Yet the retreat of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) has stalled, and in some respects gone into reverse. China still has more than 150,000 SOEs. Their share of industrial assets hovers stubbornly near 40%. They account for about half of bank credit, and when the economy slows the state presses them to spend more. Since 2015 investment by SOEs has outpaced that by private firms.
Mr Xi remains well aware of the need for reform; on July 15th he repeated warnings about indebtedness at SOEs. But only some of the initiatives rolled out on his watch are aimed at slimming the state sector. Two of them point in another direction entirely. One is the merging of competing SOEs. The arm of the government responsible for looking after these firms has engineered mergers of ports, railway-equipment makers and shipping companies; a vast chemicals combination is planned. Such deals often seem intended to spawn national champions, not to pare (लगता है) overcapacity.
The other disturbing trend is the proliferation of “state capital investment and operation” companies (SCIOs). The state has thus far tended to dominate in heavy industries, transport and energy, leaving private firms to forge ahead in technology. SCIOs will, in part, function like state-run private-equity funds whose remit is to extend the reach of government. Provincial governments have published plans to push funds into areas such as biotechnology and cloud computing.
The entrenchment of state firms brings dangers both for China and for the wider world. Domestically, evidence shows that SOEs underperform private businesses. A bigger role for them will mean more inefficiency and slower growth over the long term. State enterprises are also a principal culprit in the alarming build-up of corporate debt in China (nearly 170% of GDP at the end of last year). The IMF estimates that reform of SOEs could bring a $1trn economic dividend over the course of a decade. Their persistence will impose concomitant costs.
SOEs also risk provoking a backlash as they target increased foreign sales. With their opaque finances and domestic privileges, Chinese state enterprises are easily accused of having unfair advantages when they venture abroad. That could nourish protectionist sentiment, or prompt other countries to increase state support for their own firms.
Beat the retreat
Optimists hope for a repeat of a familiar pattern, where a period of retrenchment is followed by a spurt of reform. In this narrative, progress will be made again after the party’s five-yearly congress this autumn, when Mr Xi will have a freer hand to pursue reforms. Sadly, that is wishful thinking. Strengthening the SOEs is consistent with Mr Xi’s belief in tighter state control of just about every aspect of society. A regulatory clampdown on bank lending to big companies, for example, is a way not just to clean up shadowy financial practices but to influence how private firms spend their cash.
Previous leaders have managed the tension between a liberalising economy and an obsession with stability through a mix of rapid growth and political repression. Mr Xi does not want to change that recipe. But he is doing something more radical: reversing the state’s retreat from the economy.
Magical Vocabulary from “The Economist”
- Presage (verb) पहले से महसूस करना / पूर्व-सूचना: (of an event) be a sign or warning that (something, typically something bad) will happen.
Synonyms: Portend, augur, foreshadow, foretell, prophesy, be an omen of, herald, prognosticate, betoken, omen, forecast, foretell, portend.
Example: This makes possible rapid identification of a disturbing trend that could presage an adverse event.
- stubbornly (adjective) हठपूर्वक / कडाई से :Having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
Synonyms: Obstinate, headstrong, willful, strong-willed, pigheaded, obdurate, difficult, contrary, perverse.
Example: China’s stubborn adherence to the ” one China ” principle is obviously aimed at restraining Taiwan.
- Proliferation (noun) तीव्र वृद्धि / प्रसार: Rapid increase in numbers.
Synonyms: Spreading, diffusion, dissemination, prevalence, dispersal, publicity, propaganda, propagation.
Example: The primary G20 interest is in checking nuclear proliferation .
- Entrenchment (noun) मोरचाबंदी करना:To place within or surround with a trench especially for defence.
Synonyms: Establish, settle, lodge, set, root, install, plant, embed, seat, enshrine, trench, impinge, encroach.
Example: For nearly three months their heavy guns and musketry had poured an unceasing fire into the residency entrenchment from a distance of only 50 yds.
- Persistence (noun) अटलता/ दृढ़ता: Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
Synonyms: Pertinacity, perseverance, tenacity, tenaciousness, doggedness, persistency
Example: This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before.
- Concomitant (adjective) सहगामी/ सहचारी: Naturally accompanying or associated Or a phenomenon that naturally accompanies or follows something.
Synonyms: Attendant, accompanying, associated, related, connected, resultant, consequent
Example: The questions also related to smoking habits, medication, and concomitant disease.
- Opaque (adjective) अस्पष्ट / अपारदर्शी : Not able to be seen through; not transparent.
Synonyms: Obscure, unclear, mysterious, puzzling, perplexing, baffling, mystifying, confusing.
Example: I find conversation about doklaam utterly opaque and uninteresting.
- Privileges (noun ) विशेषाधिकार: A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
Synonyms: Advantage, benefit, prerogative, entitlement, right, concession, freedom, liberty.
Example: The law does not privilege the interests of men above those of women.
- Nourish (noun) पोषण करना: keep (a feeling or belief) in one’s mind, typically for a long time.
Synonyms: Feed, provide for, sustain, maintain.
Example: The chef aims to please and nourish the body as the composer feeds the soul.
- Retrenchment (verb) कम करना / अल्प-व्यय करना/ छटनी करना : A reduction or curtailment; often referring to a business or government agency cutting back operations or laying off workers.
Synonyms: Reduce, cut, cut back, cut down, pare, pare down, slim down, make reductions in.
Example: Retrenchment in expenditure formed a major item in his programme, together with a prompt and thorough revision of taxation.
- Obsession (verb) जुनून / मनोग्रस्ति/ स्थिर विचार : The state of being obsessed with someone or something.
Synonyms: Fixation, ruling/consuming passion, passion, mania, idée fixe, compulsion, preoccupation
Example: When vision becomes unshakeable obsession , the potential for catastrophe may not be far away.
- Repression (noun) नियंत्रण / रोक / दबाव:The action of subduing someone or something by force.
Synonyms: Oppression, subjugation, suppression, tyranny, despotism, authoritarianism
Example: Most surprising were reports about intellectual repression that students were experiencing.
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