Research Paper: History of China's Importance

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[. . .] The international political scene at this time is not dominated by a great power, nor should it be. Seeing how great powers manifest themselves in terms of political influence, it is basically impossible for a state to exercise the political dominance over the enormous amount of different political forces that are present in the countries around the world. Indeed, most states have engaged in democratic political processes; however, there are important actors on the international scene, such as China, Russia, Iran who refuse to accept the Western style of politics and therefore its influence.

From a military perspective, the existence of a major power cannot be considered to be viable for various reasons. First, terrorist groups have become worthy actors of the international relations, as institutional theorists point out, and they are not controllable factions. Still they do represent important military players because they often have access to finances and technology which make them important adversaries for any great power. Secondly, should a comparison be made at the level of national states, the existence of the Iranian nuclear threat, the North Korean nuclear file, as well as India and Pakistan's nuclear perspectives creates a rather important disequilibrium unfavorable to the Western world. Therefore, the desire to top these countries would only encourage them to move forward and acquire even more military capabilities, establishing a vicious relation, similar to the Cold War security dilemma.

By comparison to the previous elements, which define the status of great power, the political and military influence, the economic dominance in this globalized world is the hardest to attain. In this area, current reality shows that indeed, nation states have a minor role in establishing the trends of the world economy. Despite the fact that they can manifest their influence in international organizations such as the WTO, they no longer have the decisive word in transnational mergers and acquisitions, in setting currency values or stock sells. Multinational corporations can be seen therefore as becoming major powers in this area. Indeed, the confrontations are on the financial markets, still their aim is the acquisition and maintain of influence and power.

China -- economic growth, political might -- Cold War period and post- Mao development

China's economic success since the death of Mao is largely attributable to the post-Mao retention of an authoritarian political system.

The Asian continent has been the center of attention for decades now and it is considered to be one of the most important areas in the world due to its economic, military, and most importantly its demographic potential. Without a doubt, the state with the most impressive evolution in the region is China. Its economic rise has been so spectacular that it triggered the discussions on its geostrategic potential, which, throughout the Cold War era, were latent. Nowadays, one can talk about the serious implications of its territory- the third largest state in the world-, of its population- the most populated country-, of its military might, as well as its human potential, translated in the extraordinary labor force.

The current situation of the Chinese economy is largely due to reforms and strategies that have been implemented following Mao Zedong's death. It is fair to consider the period of Mao to have been one of the most atrocious in Chinese history. Indeed several reforms took place at the time, among which the Great Leap Forward. However, the Chinese economy and the population suffered from the economic setbacks and the planned labor programs.

However, the changes that took place after the death of Mao Zedong enabled China to become at one point the most important economic power in the world. Thus, A general outlook on figures representing the situation of the Chinese economy points out the scale of its development starting from 1978, a milestone for the emergence of China as a new economic force, taking into account the reform platform Deng Xiaoping outlined. In this sense, a general conclusion of various statistics shows that "in 1978, it accounted for less than one percent of the world economy, and its total foreign trade was worth $20.6 billion. Today, it accounts for four percent of the world economy and has foreign trade worth $851 billion -- the third-largest national total in the world." (Bijian, 2005) This comes to prove the success with which the Chinese government managed to combine its national potential, be it human, natural resources, state funds, or even ideological beliefs in order to stimulate the emergence of an underdeveloped economic system in a the capitalist era.

At the same time however, it is rather hard to define the actual key of success for the Chinese phenomenon. More precise, Morrison argues in a paper brief for the U.S. Congress that one of the most difficult challenges facing China is the deep social inequality (2006). This situation is rather difficult to justify in a country with such a high economic growth. The only reason would be that of an unhealthy political and social system. This would be the result of clear historical issues surrounding politics and social life.

These issues come from the time of Mao Zedong and the period after. In this sense, China's geographical, demographic, and political potential placed it ahead of its Asian neighbors. The military rise of China came as a result of the combination between its economic emergence and its imperial historical past and constitutes nowadays an essential element of the confirmation of China as a major force in the world. (L'atlas geopolitique, 2002) However, none of this could have been achieved without the political commitment of the communist regime to reestablish the nation's past glory, an element which stimulated the population and gave it the sense of national unity to support any decision taken at the central level. (Bijian, 2005) All these elements placed together "could make China a superpower" and consequently a threat to the world's economic system, which is based on other principles such as free markets and capitalism. (Roy, 1996).

The reforms that swept China from 1978 to 1997, in this time noting a 9.8 annual gross rate (Li, n.d.) have been marked by acute political reforms and setbacks. During the early years of the reformation, the corruption was flourishing and enabled public spending to reach extraordinary levels. However, this was an imminent factor as the freedom sent after the death of Mao enabled the political system to engage in less controlled activities.

The success of the reforms in the 1980s and 1990s represented in fact a success of the planned economy with less strain for the population. In this sense, the economic practices proved to be more liberal, even if in the lines of the communist party. Indeed, there was still a state run system; however, "the period of readjustment produced promising results, increasing incomes substantially; raising the availability of food, housing, and other consumer goods; and generating strong rates of growth in all sectors except heavy industry, which was intentionally restrained" (Worden, 1987). Therefore, it can be considered that the industry which is the most important level of the economy was still maintained in control of the state. From this point-of-view, the state refused to cease power and controlled the economy.

An important elements of the reformation period, from 1978 onwards, was the actual control of the state in terms of political appointments. More precisely, the important state run factories and industries had appointed CEOs and which always came from the party lines (Virmani, 2006). This was a crucial factor because it enabled the constant control of the state on the industry. Thus, even though the economy was moving on a liberal trend, the actual management of the company was politically run allowing a strict control of the production and of exports. With an industry that reached important sizes and in a country which is constantly growing, this practice was benefic because it provided the necessary framework for continuing the planned economy but on capitalist principles.

This constant control over the economy reflected also on the population. In this sense, when the five-year planned was first drafted after 1978, the entire population was requested or even obliged to contribute by severely reducing their own spending in order to achieve the proposed goals of the party. As stated by Virmani, given the perspective of decentralization, management at the level of the provinces rather than at the central level, the state noted serious revenue losses (2006). Therefore, even if the decentralization was in place, the state forced the population to individually contribute to the well-being of the nation. It is possible that in no other country of the world the population would have accepted it; however, in China, people willingly offered part of its savings for the common good.

The economic reforms, which took place in, this period helped create a particular… [END OF PREVIEW]

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History of China's Importance.  (2013, October 22).  Retrieved March 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/history-china-importance/5510783

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"History of China's Importance."  Essaytown.com.  October 22, 2013.  Accessed March 21, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/history-china-importance/5510783.