Does China Do Capitalism Better Than America?

Mar 31, 2012

NPR presents an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate about capitalism in America and China.

As China experiments with its own form of state-run capitalism, it has managed to maintain a strong economy while many Western countries, including the U.S., are faltering.

Is China capable of outdoing the United States at its own game? Can a country that lacks many of the basic ownership and individual rights expected of free enterprise create a successful capitalist society?

A group of experts, who have a wide range of experience from decades of studying China and the economy, debated that proposal in the latest Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, facing off on the motion "China Does Capitalism Better Than America."

Before the Oxford-style debate, moderated by ABC News' John Donvan, the audience at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts voted 17 percent in favor of the motion and 50 percent against the motion, with 33 percent undecided.

After the debate, 9 percent of the audience agreed with the motion that China does capitalism better than America, while 85 percent disagreed — making the side arguing against the motion the winners of the debate; 6 percent of the audience remained undecided.


For The Motion

Orville Schell is the Arthur Ross director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York. He is a former professor and dean at the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. The author of 14 books, nine of them about China, Schell worked for the Ford Foundation in Indonesia, covered the war in Indochina as a journalist and has traveled widely in China since the mid-1970s. He is a fellow at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University, a senior fellow at the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Peter Schiff is CEO and chief global strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. He is the author of several books, including the bestselling Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse, and an upcoming book, The Real Crash: A Blueprint for a Bankrupt America. He also hosts The Peter Schiff Show, a daily radio talk show. He appears regularly on CNBC, Fox Business, CNN and Fox News. Schiff served as an economic adviser to Ron Paul in 2008.


Against The Motion

Ian Bremmer is the founder and president of Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm. Bremmer created Wall Street's first global political risk index and has authored several books, including the national bestseller The End of the Free Market, The J Curve and the upcoming Every Nation for Itself. Bremmer contributes to multiple publications, including writing "The Call" blog on He has a doctoral degree in political science from Stanford University, and teaches at Columbia University.

Minxin Pei is professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and the director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies. Formerly a senior associate and director of the China Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, his research focuses on democratization in developing countries, economic reform and governance in China, and U.S.-China relations. Pei's research and op-eds have been published in numerous publications. He is also author of China's Trapped Transition: The Limits of Developmental Autocracy. Dr. Pei received his M.A. and doctoral degree in political science from Harvard University.