Sleeping Giant Awakens China Research Paper

Pages: 8 (2645 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Asian

Sleeping Giant Awakens

China, known as the "sleeping giant," has transformed itself from a rural, pre-industrial society to an economic and political powerhouse in just a few decades. Since 1949, through the Great Patriotic Revolution led by Mao Tse-Tung, China has literally moved from a feudal economic system to one of the world's fastest growing economies in the global environment. How did China accomplish this herculean task? What were the political and social consequences of such rapid movement? How is China now poised to become what some see as the "next global super-power"? Finally, how does traditional Chinese culture translate into modern geopolitical thought, allowing China both a link to its past and a propellant to the future?Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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China is a huge nation that has been experiencing unprecedented growth over the past few decades -- an average annual GDP of well over 10%. While China's actual per capita income is still classified in the lower-middle category in global statistics, at about $3,200, it is still the third largest economy in the world after the United States and Japan with a nominal DFP of $4.3 trillion (Chinese Government, 2010). Contemporary China now participates in the global private sector. Her companies play a major role in the global economy, and companies in the developed world take Chinese manufacturing trends quite serious. China's view of her economy is "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics," which is defined variantaely by scholars. Over 1/3 of the economy is state owned and controlled, and there is significant new foreign investment in the country. Key government industries are utilities, heavy industry and energy resources. China is the world's largest producer of rice, and is among the top producers of cotton, corn, tobacco, soybeans, and peanuts. Industrially, it is also a world producer in cotton products, coal, crude oil, and its mineral resources are among the richest in the world, albeit only partially developed. All this developed has resulted in China's populace seeing a gradual improvement in their living standard, even in the rural areas, but it is the cities in which the most vital and burgeoning growth occurs. Like any developing country, though, China has growing pains. It remains more concerned with State economic development that per capita improvement. China's growth may not, in fact, remain sustainable unless there is a dramatic change in the infrastructure and a redevelopment of natural resources that matches the needs of the global environment (e.g. human rights, pollution control, trade imbalances, etc.). Even with the "new face," china still has severe corruption issues in the government, huge environmental issues, and a rapidly aging population with limited capital resources to sustain an older, non-working, population (CIA Factbook, 2010; National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2010).

One very telling example is the way China has merged the political with global economic independence, and its ability to negotiate environmental issues. For the past fifty years, the country has spent considerable resource modernizing, coalescing power, investing in other countries, and changing the way it utilizes its greatest resource -- its population. Indeed, much of China's current strategic and tactical foreign policy surrounds its rapid growth over the last several decades and the way it has extended itself in so many directions. China is still dependent upon Middle Eastern oil -- importing up to 8 million barrels a day. The vulnerability also extends past oil dependence into fears of an energy insecurity peak. The emerging trends in China are that its energy needs are going to continue to exponentially increase, while if something is not done, there will not be the rate worker base to handle this segment of the market. and, to top it off, such rapid development coupled with global warming and pollution issues threatens to damage China's agricultural markets -- some areas must pollinate their trees and fields by hand (Shirk, 2007). Indeed, what seems to be happening with China is understandable -- the Developed World had their Industrial Revolutions and decades of pollution without control. Now the developing world is trying for rapid industrialization but has the added conundrum of restrictions, issues with global warming, pollution, and world opinion.

Citing both qualitative and quantitative governmental data, authors Chung, Fryxell and Lo (2006) maintain that while China is overtly committed to promote programs that have environmental conservation as part of their template, the stark reality is that the country falls quite short of even its own basic standards. This revelation is based on the number of permits authorized for construction vs. The number of ISO 14001-4 permits and requirements met (473-6). We must also take into consideration both the vastness of China's geography and the complexity of their bureaucracy. Governmental regulations are not always translated into actualities at the local level, largely due to enforcement and logistical issues, all politically based.

China's Path Towards Modernization - China did not experience an Industrial Revolution and modernization in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries as did many European countries and even Japan, to some extent. Instead, throughout even the 19th century, China remained largely rural and controlled by a series of warlord governments. In fact, it was a series of civil wars, internal bureaucratic corruption, and imperialism that damaged the country and economy to the point that China was ripe for dramatic social and political change (China Country Profile, 2010).

Once Japan had been defeated in 1945 another civil war erupted, this time between the Nationalists and the Communists. In 1949, the Communist regime, with the assistance of the Soviet Union, garnered victory and established the People's Republic of China on the mainland, with the Chinese Nationalist Party relegated to the island of Taiwan. Soviet influence was heavy, as it was in the conflict over the Korean peninsula in the early 1950s. Chinese leadership counted on Soviet aid for, even with a huge population they were in the midst of a serious economic decline. The Soviet political leadership had a vested interest in supporting the Maoist revolutionary group, not simply to export world communism, but to establish a communist state in Asia (Garver, 1988, 1-34).

What followed were a series of rather disruptive socioeconomic movements designed to rapidly industrialize, collectivize, and change the landscape of China -- called the Great Leap Forward. Like the Soviet Union, peasant resistence and economic ineptitude resulted in an estimated 30-36 million deaths (Smil, 1999). Once the so-called "old guard" of the Communist Revolution died, though, it was time to rethink economic and political progress.

By 1978 there was some relaxation of control, but the PRC still had iron-clad control over politics and society. Economic reforms were politicized and put into effect by Den Xiaoping -- decollectivization of the countryside, some political decentralization of control in the industrial sector and an amazing public pronouncement that the past few decades had been "an appalling catastrophe… the most severe setback to the socialist cause since 1949" (Poon, 2006). Politically, it was important to quickly develop the consumer and export sectors of the economy, and create and buttress an urban middle class, increase living standards, and deal with such issues as literacy, life expectancy, personal rights, and most especially, agricultural output.

Knowing that things move slow politically and socially in China, we can now trace an important step in opening up China to the West both politically and economically. In 1972, while Mao was still alive but Deng controlling most of the upper echelons of political power, U.S. President Richard Nixon visited China, the results of the week long visit, most of it orchestrated by Henry Kissinger, were vast: a political agreement that there was only one China and an agreement to settle the Taiwanese situation; to open trade and commerce between China and the West; and to reduce tensions between the two countries. Nixon himself commented, "This was the week that changed the world, as what we have said in that Communique is not nearly as important as what we will do in the years ahead to build a bridge across 16,000 miles and 22 years of hostilities which have divided us in the past. And what we have said today is that we shall build that bridge" ("1972 in Review," 1973).

The Way of the Sleeping Giant- Unlike the West, which had 150-200 years to accomplish the technological and social revolution of transforming from rural to urbanized-industrial economies, China has had less than 50 years. However, a combination of traditional Chinese Values, the Maoist push, and post-Maoist political expertise has positioned the country to become the next global superpower.

Since 1949, there have been 3-4 major shifts in overall philosophy within the elite; as globalism continues to develop, China wishes to be part of the global economic push with import/export and fiscal rewards, so small concessions have been made over the past decade to allow greater autonomy in business ownership and purchasing decisions. There is high political, economic, societal, and military cohesion since all are central controlled and there is no evidence of a lapse in the power base. Most recently, China has… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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