Does a bigger cake mean a fairer share?

Updated: 2014-05-29 16:24

By Li Yang (

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The Chinese government cannot build a harmonious society until it finds ways to solve the wealth unfairness issue in society, says an article in China Business News. Excerpts:

Capital in the 21st Century, a new book by French economist Thomas Piketty, has stirred critical debate about wealth and fairness around the world.

The left-wing scholar argues the inequality of wealth in rich countries has returned to the level of 100 years ago, and raising tax rates is the only way to deal with mounting inherited wealth and social inequity.

People used to believe unfairness of wealth could be gradually solved by the continuous accumulation of wealth along with the development of society.

However, real life is different. The “Occupy Wall Street” protest two years ago was a fight against social unfairness in a rich country.

China also provides a context to test the book’s argument, but there is no single solution to the wealth unfairness problem in China.

The widening income gap in Chinese society is a main obstacle for the government in building a harmonious society. There are many causes for the polarized society in the largest developing country in the world.

The wealth disparity between cities and villages in China cannot be solved only through the reform of the wealth distribution system, which will necessarily trigger conflict among different interest groups. The government needs to keep the economy growing at a proper speed, during which the wealth gap can be bridged step by step through a reform of gradualism.

The wealth gap in China also comes from corruption and a taxation system that fails to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.

The monopoly of State-owned enterprises in some fields not only stems the healthy growth of private enterprises and harms domestic consumers but, with the poor management and supervision of SOEs, also fattens large vested interests that resist any changes that may affect their status quo.

The Chinese government has taken action to promote social justice and fairness in the process of deepening reforms. But such a goal is easier said than done. If China can solve its fairness issue well, it will have every reason to become a real power in the world.