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  Chinese Way>Life

Capital causes a stir

2014-08-06 14:06:14

(China Daily) By Xing Yi


French economist Thomas Piketty gestures during a seminar in Sweden. [Photo/AFP]


The long-awaited Chinese translation of French economist Thomas Piketty's book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has triggered a debate among academics, as excerpts are published in newspapers ahead of the book's release. Xing Yi reports.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by French economist Thomas Piketty has caused a stir among Chinese academics as excerpts are published in newspapers ahead of the release of the full translation this fall. Citing the work of Honore de Balzac, whose books depicted the inequality of European societies in the 19th century, Piketty, 43, says a "patrimonial society" where most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few economic elite and their offspring is looming.

"I am interested in this book because it sheds some light on how to narrow the inequality between the rural-urban divide in China," says Ma Jiujie, executive deputy director at the Research Institute of Agricultural Economics and Finance at Renmin University of China.

However, instead of imposing higher taxes on capital as Piketty suggests in the book, Ma thinks that helping peasants to convert their assets to capital to make profit is a better solution for Chinese farmers.

Chinese economist Li Daokui, director of the Center for China in the World Economy at Tsinghua University, points out the biggest limitation of the book is that it doesn't include the economic development in China and other developing countries.

"The income of Chinese people increased dramatically in the past 30 years," Li writes in his blog on "Therefore, if we calculate the distribution of wealth on a global scale, Piketty's findings might be reversed."


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