China’s spectacular achievements in economic growth and poverty reduction have been accompanied by growing inequality, which not only jeopardizes its equitable development goals but also threatens its social compact and thus, the political basis for future economic growth. Chinese policymakers and scholars are questioning this growth pattern and have launched reviews and policy initiatives to address the issues.
The regional dimensions of inequality—rural/urban as well as inland/coastal—are a particular concern in the policy debate in China. The recent financial crisis poses both challenges and opportunities for China in rebalancing its regional development. With shrinking external demand, the Chinese government has initiated a massive stimulus package with a particular focus on rural and inland regions in an attempt to boost domestic and rural demand. Consequently, the policy discourse in China on inequality in general and regional inequality in particular is very different now than it was even a decade ago.
This roundtable discussion brings prominent scholars to debate China’s regional development strategies: Dr. Shenggen Fan, Director, Development Strategy and Governance, IFPRI; Professor Ravi Kanbur, T.H. Lee Professor of World Affairs, Cornell University; Professor Carl Riskin, Distinguished Professor of Economics, Queens College, City University of New York and Senior Research Scholar, East Asian Institute, Columbia University; and Dr. Xiaobo Zhang, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI.