The NYT has a story on Harvard economist Dani Rodrik. And he has this bit to say about China:
"The Chinese government operated on several levels as that nation grew into an export powerhouse, Mr. Rodrik said. It nurtured the manufacture of electronic products and auto parts. It forced foreign investors into joint ventures with domestic producers. Beijing lowered trade barriers, he said, “only after it developed a relatively sophisticated manufacturing capacity.”
Absent an activist policy to protect China’s nascent industries, it would not have emerged as an export power, Mr. Rodrik said. “The traditional forces of comparative advantage,” he said, “would have pushed China to specialize only in the labor-intensive products ‘appropriate’ to low-income economies.”"