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In my life I’ve been fortunate to be in places at key moments that subsequently shaped history, becoming crucial turning points in political and economic affairs. What these examples mean for SA in its current state is significant. In late 1989, I arrived in Berlin to find the Berlin Wall being dismantled by Germans heeding US president Ronald Reagan’s call in 1987 to "tear down this wall". The fall of the wall resulted in the domino collapse of East European regimes. By the end of 1991, the Soviet Union itself — the last great empire — had disintegrated. This political shock was followed by sweeping structural reform. Market liberalisation and privatisation led to a better livelihood for the region’s populations; the Eastern Bloc became emerging Europe and reforms were ultimately rewarded with EU membership. The point is, it took a dramatic political shock before economic structural reform happened. In the early 1990s, China was in the early stages of a reform process. Its economy ...

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