Updated Jan 23, 2018

More centralized control threatens China's economic model

A worker at a steel plant in Dalian, China. Photo: VCG via Getty Images

For the past several decades, China has been governed by a dual system: political authoritarianism combined with economic entrepreneurship. Private-owned and foreign firms have helped drive economic growth, while accommodating, and even resisting, political influence. Formerly limited by the central government, they later flourished with the support of local bureaucrats.

Amid the current economic slowdown, the central government has used tax incentives and other benefits to co-opt private entrepreneurs into the Communist party. They have also aimed to attract foreign investment to development zones and free trade zones, especially in high-value sectors like information technology, clean energy and machinery.

Instead of relying on local initiatives, these measures are mostly top-down. Local bureaucrats now exercise more caution in promoting economic activities, in part to avoid becoming targets of anti-corruption campaigns.

What's next: Centralization would upset the fragile balance and sustainability of China's economic model. Compared to local bureaucrats, Beijing is less likely to make policies that suit the millions of varied non-public firms across the country and risks undermining valuable entrepreneurship.

Ling Chen is an assistant professor at John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the author of "Manipulating Globalization: The Influence of Bureaucrats on Business in China."

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 9 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health