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Opinion
Christopher Balding

China's Top Economic Risk? Education.

Chinese schools are often dismal. Fixing them is the key to long-term growth.
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Help wanted.

Photographer: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently laid out a bold vision for transforming his country into a fully developed economy by 2050, with a particular emphasis on spurring innovation and technology. Given China's current level of human capital -- and some looming changes in the world economy -- that may be harder than he expects.

A widely held view in the West is that China's schools are brimming with math and science whizzes, just the kind of students that companies of the future will need. But this is misleading: For years, headline-grabbing studies showing China's prowess on standardized tests evaluated only kids in rich and unrepresentative areas. When its broader population was included, China's ranking dropped across all subject areas.