H1 China Studies in English Syllabus Content

Essays/ Notes will be categorized according to these themes :

THEME 1 – CULTURE AND SOCIETY
– Modernization
– National Identity
– Philosophy and Religion

THEME 2 – AUTHORITY AND GOVERNANCE
– Challenges to Governance
– Cross-Strait Relations

THEME 3 – DEVELOPMENT AND CHALLENGES
– Economic Development
– Environmental Problems
– Regional Disparity/Urban-Rural

THEME 4 – CHINA AND THE WORLD
– Global Power
– Sino-US Relations
– Sino-Japan Relations

There are more prospects for cooperation in Sino-Japanese relations today than ever before.

There are more prospects for cooperation in Sino-Japanese relations today than ever before.

 

Sino-Japanese relations have been rather strained since the late 1880s, when Japan first invaded China, such as the invasion of Manchuria in the early 1990s to the World War Two atrocities Japan committed on China, including the infamous Nanking Massacre. Even though these happen in the past, there still exists a tainted historical legacy between the two countries, where Japan refuses to admit its wrongdoings and apologize. Prospects for cooperation have been low in the past, where the Chinese despised the Japanese and were less receptive towards Japanese goods and vice versa. However, in the present, there are more prospects than before as China becomes a more significant economic power on the global stage and its efforts in global security.  However, there are also many other areas that serve as a source of conflict and have no prospects for cooperation, such as historical legacy affecting the present and future politics, territorial disputes and the issue of Taiwan.

 

  • Economic Cooperation

Economic relations between both countries have deepened significantly due to China and Japan’s economic interdependence. As China’s economy continues to grow, hitting a double digit growth in GDP, it has allowed for greater trading opportunities with Japan being China’s 3rd largest trading partner as of 2015. Furthermore, it is only with Japan’s assistance in China’s development by providing Official Development Aid (ODA) since the 1980s and the provision of a 3 trillion yen loan aid, that Deng’s economic reforms became so successful. In return, China allowed for the penetration of Japanese goods into its large market that would do well for Japan’s economy. Compared to the 1960s whereby Japanese products were not seen, or even boycotted in some Chinese cities due to despise of the Japanese after WWII. Today, Chinese leaders and the people understand that Japan provides many economic opportunities and so are pragmatic in their mindsets, as can be seen with the increased number of Japanese products and technologically advanced companies that can now be found in China. This also shows us that there are many more prospects for economic cooperation than in the past.

 

  • Cooperation in global security

As China rises to become a global power, there are greater prospects for cooperation of the two countries in global security, more so than in the past. Both China and Japan are avid participants in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions by sending soldiers and police to troubled areas in the world like Cambodia and Golan Heights during times of rioting. Both countries also contribute to the UN Peacekeeping budget, where Japan contributes 9.68% and China contributes 10.29% as part of them accepting ‘Great Power’ responsibilities as of 2016. This participation in peacekeeping missions and commitment to global security can be a platform for cooperation between the two countries, which was not possible in the past where China was an isolationist state under Mao, until the 1980s where Deng Xiaoping opened China’s doors to the world. These opportunities were also made possible because China is increasingly becoming a global power, which was not so in the past. An instance of both China and Japan participating in ensuring global security would be the Six-Party Talks, where both countries, along with South Korea, USA and Russia try to convince North Korea to pursue a policy of nuclear disarmament and to stop its provocative attacks on South Korea. Hence, because of the great power status of both countries, which were not the case for China in the past, China and Japan have prospects for cooperation in global security issues.

 

  • Historical animosities

Historical animosities still affect Sino-Japanese relations even up till today. The frequent visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by some Japanese premiers, notably Junichiro Koizumi has infuriated many in China. Given the fact that the shrine is dedicated to spirits of many high ranking Japanese officers whom had carried out war crimes, the act of visiting the shrine by the Japanese can be seen as utter disrespect to the people in China. This situation is further exacerbated by Japanese reluctance to accept full responsibility for initiating the invasion of China since 1931 through the revision of textbooks and the denial of the Nanking Massacre against the Chinese. On the other hand, the history books and education syllabus in China continue to remind younger Chinese of their forefathers’ sufferings under the Japanese invasion. Hence, these conflicting views with regards to the past conflicts by both countries caused them both to have emotional baggage and inevitably affecting bilateral relations between China and Japan as neither of them were willing to look pass these differences.

 

  • Territorial disputes

Territorial disputes between the two countries also serve as a source of conflict, hindering Sino-Japan cooperation. For instance, a long standing territorial dispute between the two countries is that of the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, which the Japanese and Chinese call respectively. On one hand, Japan claims that these islands came under US trusteeship and were returned to Japan in 1971 under the Okinawa reversion deal whereby China did not object to then. Whereas, China, on the other hand, claims that these islands have been part of its territory since ancient times, serving as important fishing grounds administered by the province of Taiwan. As both sides are unwilling to compromise, these islands still remain disputed till today. These territorial disputes can result in diplomatic issues and possible sources of direct conflict, which would hinder the relationship between the two countries. This can be seen whereby dozens of Chinese vessels were spotted patrolling these disputed islands near the East China Sea despite the international court’s decision to reject China’s historic claims to most of the sea in 2016. This shows how China has refused to recognize the court ruling on this case, triggering diplomatic conflicts and hindering the relationship between the two countries.

 

  • Taiwan Issue

Taiwan has been a long standing irritant in the Sino-Japanese relationship. Having been under China’s rule before, Japan is sympathetic to the Taiwanese independence cause and even though it does not out rightly support Taiwanese independence, it does have a non-governmental office in Taiwan to conduct non-diplomatic activities. Taiwan has also taken efforts to court Japan as it sees Japan as a valuable ally in the event of a conflict with China. Hence, Japan’s apparent sympathy for Taiwan’s independence cause can threaten Sino-Japanese relations as China might show disagreement towards Japan’s actions.

In conclusion, despite there being more platforms for cooperation in Sino-Japanese relations, these prospects are not properly utilized for maximum cooperation, resulting in more conflicts occurring that hinder prospects for cooperation.

Assess the view that China and the United States will never see eye to eye in any aspects.

Assess the view that China and the United States will never see eye to eye in any aspects.

Since the early 1990s, Sino-US relations have followed an uneven course, with modest improvements overshadowed by various recurring difficulties. Among others, bilateral difficulties have included US problems with the China’s worsening human rights record, growing tensions over Taiwan’s status and differing views regarding its fight against terrorism. However in certain aspects China and the United States have seen greater cooperation such as economic cooperation and cooperation on the North Korean Nuclear Crisis.

 

  • Human Rights Issue

Disputes in human rights issues is one of the reasons why China and the US will never see eye to eye. USA’s Non-Governmental Organization’s (NGO), media and the government are critical of the Chinese government treatment of dissidents, religious groups, ethnic minorities, workers, accused criminals, prisoners, and married people contemplating having more than one child, among other issues. With the rise of human rights movement and human rights diplomacy that is occurring in the US, it conflicts with China’s domestic policies which USA claims to violate internationally recognized human rights. The event that fixed human rights as a core Sino-US issue was the Tiananmen Incident. Since then, USA has been on the offensive at both the non-governmental and governmental levels in criticizing China’s human rights violations. Policy instruments included public shaming, quiet shaming, quiet diplomacy, threats of trade sanctions and efforts to have China criticized at the annual meeting of the United Nations Human Rights commission in Geneva. This led to the worsening of bilateral relations which still remains as a major obstacle today. A recent example would be the case of Chen Guang Cheng, an activist lawyer who fled from house arrest and sought political asylum in the USA in 2012, thus straining relations between the two parties. Although in 2015, the USA eventually gave in and pressured him to return to China, former US support for him was seen to be outright meddling in the international affairs of the Chinese state.

 

  • Taiwan Issue

The Taiwan issue is another reason as to why China and the US will never see eye to eye. For centuries, the concept of “One China”, China’s proper governance under a single authority has been imbibed in the minds of the generations of the Chinese and many still believe that Taiwan should reunify with China someday. Prior to the establishment of official Sino-US relations, China had evidently set the “3 No’s” policy as a prerequisite for the establishment of official Sino-US relations in 1979. While the US is opposed to the independence of Taiwan as part of its “3 No’s” policy, it continues to have good non-official relations with Taiwan and this traditional US support for Taiwan has always been a source of insecurity for China as it may possibly thwart opportunities for reunification. With USA’s continued military sales to Taiwan for its defence, as well as the possibility of extending its Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) strategy to Taiwan, this heightened China’s concern with regards to USA’s support for Taiwan as it may possibly promote an independent Taiwan policy given USA’s pro-democratic nature, threatening China’s territorial integrity. Therefore, the issue of Taiwan remains at the core of problems in the Sino-US relations today.

 

  • Differing views regarding the fight against terrorism

The differing views between both countries about the fight against terrorism also shows how China and the USA may possibly never see eye to eye. Despite both countries being determined to tackle global terrorism in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in 2001, in recent years, China has seen a complete shift in this outlook with the number of uprising in the region of Tibet and Xinjiang, China has instead used its anti-terrorism campaign in these Muslim-majority areas like Xinjiang. This has led to the US questioning China’s lack of transparency on such campaigns on incidents China claims as acts of “terrorism” by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in 2016. In mitigation, China states that USA was making baseless reports about counter-terrorism policies in their country. As such, what used to be an opportunity for Sino-US cooperation has led to mistrusts and doubts, preventing China and the US from ever seeing eye to eye.

  • Economic Disagreements

China’s unethical economic practices also prevents China and the US from ever seeing eye to eye. This is due to their close ties that China’s economic practices have negatively affected the US’s economy. The trade surplus favoring China meant that more than ¼ of US total trade deficit was with them and this allowed China to hold a considerable leverage over the US in the economic area. While the US sought to correct the trade imbalance with greater access to the Chinese market and more favorable terms of trade, China wanted to maintain the status quo so as to continue benefiting from the trade imbalance in its favor. This has inevitably led to severe consequences on USA’s side whereby as of 2015, its trade deficit with China was $365.7 billion, a new record compared to 2014’s record of $343 billion. As such, this “undervaluation” of the Renminbi (RMB) also made it a “currency manipulator” in the eyes of many US citizens. Furthermore, while this made Chinese exports more competitive which benefits them, it prevented free competition between them and US producers. At the same time, the undervaluation of the RMB also had the side effect of deterring other Asian countries from appreciating their currencies for fear of losing their competitiveness. Thus, bringing about much domestic dissatisfaction and pressure to rectify the trade imbalances with China. Thus, economic disagreements between both countries effectively prevents them from ever seeing eye to eye as neither is willing to compromise on their part.

 

  • Economic Cooperation

With China becoming the 2nd largest economy in the world, China’s relationship with the US had changed for the better, allowing China to see eye to eye with the US through economic cooperation such as trading. Trading not only ties states closer together because of shared economic interests, but also breeds contracts between regions, cities and individuals. These are much deeper connections than the political relationship on the surface. While the US congress sputters about the need to ‘punish’ China supposed transgressions, the individual states have been pushing China to invest in places as politically and geographically far such as Illinois and South Carolina and China did. Therefore, China and the US are able to see eye to eye due to its economic cooperation, although possibly being done out of political interests, it inevitably still allowed for both sides to reach a consensus.

  • Cooperation in the North Korea Nuclear Crisis

The issue of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis has allowed for China and the US to see eye to eye. With regards to North Korea amassing nuclear weapons, it has led to the possibility of a nuclear war in recent years. This have brought about greater cooperation between China and US during the annual UN General Assembly of 2016 whereby China supports closer cooperation in the UN Security Council and in enforcement efforts to halt North Korea’s nuclear program. Furthermore, the participation in the Six-Party talks between China and the US have allowed for greater cooperation due to their common goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. On one hand, it is important for the US to maintain good diplomatic relations with China, an ally of North Korea whom it holds significant influence over in order to put North Korea in their discussions through China. Whereas, China on the other hand, prioritizes good relations with the USA to have a form of leverage over its regional allies. Therefore in such cases, both China and the US can be said to see eye to eye given their common goals.

 

In conclusion, it is evident that both countries in most cases are unable to see eye to eye on many issues. Even though it is known that there are concessions being made, these concessions are merely minor ones because the main objective of both countries is to achieve what is best for their national interest through competition and rivalry, therefore resulting in minor compromises only. The challenges faced in maintaining Sino-US relations are numerous and are certainly all important in shaping ties between the two parties.

To what extent is China’s rise as a global power ‘peaceful’?

To what extent is China’s rise as a global power ‘peaceful’?

Since Deng XiaoPing opened China’s doors to the world in the 1980s and following the end of the cold war, China’s economy has been progressing growing and in its interaction with the world. China seeks to be one of the poles in this predominantly uni-polar world dominated by the US, even though this trend is changing. China does intend to rise peacefully as a global power and is trying to convince nations who may feel threatened that China is not a threat. This can be seen in China’s ‘grand strategy’, which is to firstly, get involved in multilateralism to prevent bandwagoning of others against it, culture strong bilateral ties to prevent countries from questioning its domestic actions, take up great power responsibilities and lastly, challenge great power politics using globalization and not through forceful means. As such, to a large extent, China’s rise is considerably peaceful, although China sometimes choose forceful means over diplomacy to champion its interest and China’s rising military creates a ‘China Threat Theory’ viewed by countries.

 

  • Getting involved in Multilateralism

China is increasingly getting involved in active multilateralism to convince other countries about its peaceful rise. From Mao to Deng, even though both leaders had wanted to establish China as a global power, their approaches were starkly different. Mao tried to court the Third World by promoting Chinese ideology but shunned most of the international community for fear of imperialism, resulting in China’s isolation. Deng, on the other hand, courted the international organizations that China joined, increasing drastically from 2 in 1978 to 83 in 2000. This holds testimony to China’s commitment to show her peaceful rise through getting more engaged in the international community. Several of the prominent organizations China is part of includes the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations (UN), where China is a permanent member of the Security Council, and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). One might argue that even though China is a member of these organizations, membership does not reflect active participation, as can be seen from China’s constant abstinence with regards to decisions of the UN Security Council. However, China does show active participation in other organizations like the ARF and especially the WTO, where China is a key member because of its booming economy. Moreover, China’s actions in the UN Security Council can be accountable in that China has a different set of principles as compared to the world in general which tends to follow western principles and China highly regards territorial integrity and non-interference, sometimes even more so than human rights, which the western societies place emphasis on. Hence, China is willing to make compromises on its principles to take a seat in the UN Security Council, sometimes having to watch invasion of other countries like the invasion of Kuwait by NATO in 2003 despite having abstained on its vote, thus showing that China is indeed genuinely interested in assimilating into the international community and multilateral organizations despite having different principles. Hence, China’s rise as a global power can be seen as a peaceful, where China is engaging the world diplomatically.

 

  • Culturing stronger bilateral activities

China is also increasingly culturing stronger bilateral ties with many other countries to show its intent on peacefully rising and to hopefully hinder others from criticizing its domestic affairs. This can be seen where China is now the largest trading partner of many countries such as Korea, Japan, India, Vietnam, and Africa as a continent and the second largest trading partner of the USA. China, especially in recent years has also been engaging in several other countries in visits of important ministers such as welcoming the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to visit in 2011. China has also engaged USA and Japan together in Trilateral Talks since 2008 and the most recent being held in 2015. This is significant as these are the three largest economy in the world and their cooperation would greatly benefit the global process. These examples show that China is taking efforts to rise peacefully, engaging many countries to assure them of its peaceful rise. Undoubtedly, some risks are being taken by China such as in the US-Japan-China Trilateral Talks where USA and Japan are close allies and might cooperate against Chinese interests, placing China at a loss. Hence, China is willing to take risks to prove to the world that it is bent on peacefully rising ass a global power.

 

  • Take up great power responsibilities

In addition, China is taking up great power responsibilities to show that it is willing and capable to take on the burdens of global leadership. China wants to show that it aims to become a global power not through the use of force to establish hegemony but through meeting the expectations the world has of a global power. This can be seen where China contributes more soldiers and police to UN Peacekeeping missions than USA, Japan or Russia, and where China is an integral member of the six party talks to persuade North Korea to disarm its nuclear weapons and to stop its provocative attacks on the South. Moreover, China contributes 10.29% to the UN Peacekeeping budget and this shows that even though China is not ready to individually foot the heavy burden of global leadership, it is taking efforts to through its actions as a global leader. China’s current approach may be seen as different from the past, where Mao tried to become a global power through attempting to sell China’s ideology to go against the world order at that time. Today, China is meeting the expectations the world has of a global power and so is attempting to rise peacefully.

 

  • Challenge great power politics using globalization and not force

China is also attempting to challenge great power politics using globalization instead of force. This is seen where China is increasingly leading in many global multilateral organizations that do not involve Western powers, decreasing the power of western powers on the world in doing so. This is seen especially in the BRICS, consisting of the world’s largest growing developing countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. China is playing a key role in these organizations, where China hosted the first meeting in 2011, chaired by President Hu Jintao. This is significant as China is establishing itself as an alternate leader of the world, in place of traditional western powers and is displacing the power of the USA not by force but through multilateral means. Another significant cooperation is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) involving China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to promote economic cooperation and prevent terrorism in the region. In the SCO, China is also taking a leadership role as the organization was established by China in the first place. In a way, China’s current actions reflect what Mao failed to do, in terms of creating an alternate locus of power in the world. However, China is not directly challenging the power of the traditional Western powers like the USA as it is not entirely ready to take up the costly burdens of global leadership and that USA dominance in the world also allows China to focus on its domestic economic growth, which is its utmost priority at this point in time.

 

  • China’s growing military strength

However, China may pose as a threat to other nations especially because of its growing military strength and cause them to think of China’s rise as threatening instead of peaceful. Indeed, these countries do have a reason to fear, as China’s military is growing at an astounding rate especially in recent years. In the past 10 years, China’s defense budget has increased more than four times, the latest increase being 10.1% in 2015. Moreover, China is currently developing its naval capabilities and also in 2011, have revealed to the world about its development of the stealth fighter plane, something that only the USA, the strongest military in the world, possesses. This causes fear to other countries as even though China claims time and time again that its military is solely for the purpose of self defense, naval capabilities and the stealth fighter are mainly for offensive purposes and this lead countries to think that China’s rise may not be peaceful. Even the USA is cautious of China’s rise, with USA’s ex-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates quoted as saying that China’s military is by far the only military in the world that has the potential to challenge the US military, which has for many years remained unchallenged. Hence, with China’s growing military and offensive capabilities, other countries are increasingly convinced and worried that China’s rise as a global power may not be peaceful and it might resort to using force if necessary.

 

  • Territorial Assertions

Coupled with China’s military build-up, China has been flexing its military muscle to express its interests, particularly in the area of territorial integrity. As mentioned earlier, China places its territorial integrity above human rights and this shows the emphasis that China places on its territory. The most notable example would be that of the South China Sea crisis, where China claims the entire sea as its own territory and is challenging other claimant countries, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. China has stated that it views military strength as the primary guarantee of its interests while diplomacy is only secondary and so has denied the internationalization or any form of diplomacy over the South China Sea disputes. China has also used force to establish its interests, as can be seen where a Chinese ship severed the cables on a Vietnamese exploration vessel, causing much dispute with the Vietnamese. This shows that despite all the efforts China is putting in to show its peaceful rise to the world, there are some areas which the Chinese refuse to compromise on and would use force if necessary, especially with regard to its territorial integrity.
In conclusion, even though China’s rise may be viewed as a threat due to its rising military and territorial assertions, these trends are changing and coupled with China’s other actions following its grand strategy, it is to a large extent that China’s rise as a global power is peaceful.

How successful has China been in managing its environmental pollution today?

How successful has China been in managing its environmental pollution today?

With economic reforms by Deng XiaoPing after 1978, China had since seen tremendous growth in its economy whereby its GDP grew on average 10% each year for more than a decade until 2015. However, this growth did not come without sacrifices. With China’s maxim of ‘development first, environment second’, Chinese leaders are now well aware of the cost of economic growth in terms of environmental degradation. Despite China’s attempts in implementing new environmental laws, it has not succeeded in tackling its energy and environmental problems due to continuing air and water pollution problems, and also due to lack of viable clean energy resources to replace coal. Therefore, I disagree to a large extent that China has not been successful in tacking its environmental pollution.

 

  • Air pollution

China’s air pollution shows that China have not been successful in managing its environmental pollution today. As of 2014, only 3 out of 74 Chinese cities met air quality standards and annual average levels of PM2.5 reached 106 micro-grams which was more than 10 times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safety limit of 10. As the world’s largest source of carbon emissions, China is responsible for 1/3 of the earth’s greenhouse gas output. Furthermore, with Beijing recently issued its first pollution “red light” in 2014, it shows the severity of this environmental pollution. Despite China pledging to spend $76 billion to improve their air quality in 2014, the air pollution continues to persist up till today. Therefore, China has not succeeded in tackling its environmental pollution today.

 

  • Lack of viable clean energy sources to replace coal

Similarly, China has not succeeded in tackling its environmental pollution due to uncontrolled building of coal-fired electric power plants and local industries have been building their own in-house diesel generators in order to attract investments and secure high GDP without proper authorization from central authorities. China’s coal-fired power plants are the main cause of the rapid increase in greenhouse gases and emissions, the world’s largest after the US. Central government officials acknowledge that out of the 440 gigawatts of generating capacity in place at the beginning of 2005, 110 were illegal power plants that never received construction approval by the responsible central government agency. As such, this poses as a large problem as the given the large number of coal plants that are unregulated. Although China has imposed new laws to close down any coal factories which exceeds the amount of harmful pollutants into the air, up till today many coal factories are still up and running. Therefore, China’s energy policy is incoherent which shows that China has not succeeded in tackling its environmental problems.

 

  • Water pollution

China has not succeeded in tackling its energy and environmental problems due to water pollution. China’s shrinking water sources have been polluted by industrial and agricultural waste. As of 2016, 4/5 of China’s water from wells are deemed “unsafe because of pollution”. The number of rivers with significant attachment areas has fallen from more than 50,000 in the 1950s to 23,000 today. Although the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China issued a plan to cut down the polluting of underground water resources in 2011 by the end of the decade, little success have been seen with the water crisis turning China’s arable lands into deserts, claiming around 27.5% of China’s total land mass. Thus China has not succeeded in tackling its environmental pollution.

 

  • Efforts in Clean Energy reform

However, some energy reform is taking place. The National Development and Reform Commission, the government’s power economic planner is promising substantial increases in clean energy capacity and pricing reform to drive changes in the use of conventional fuels. Political, economic and environmental interests increasingly aligned around the search for cleaner energy. In 2013, the NDRC promised a 52 gigawatt increase in installed capacity for clean energy as compared to 36 in 2012. Furthermore, in 2016, the CCP issued a major policy announcement “Document 625” on renewable energy, aimed at reducing the high levels of curtailment of energy from wind, solar, hydro and other renewable resources. Therefore, showing that some energy reforms being carried out by the government but it is too soon to tell whether it is successful or not.

  • Implementation of more environmental policies

In addition, the government has mapped out ambitious environmental initiatives in the recent Five-Year Plans. Since 2014, the CCP has required 15,000 factories, including large State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to publicly report real time figures on their emissions and water discharges, with the government pledging to spend $275 billion over the next five years to clean up the air. Furthermore, China’s legislature also amended China’s Environmental Protection Law to allow for stricter punishment against companies or individuals caught polluting the environment whereby those who cause environmental damage may also be held “criminally responsible”. This law has led to the closing of several steel and nickel pig iron factories in China, a sign that environmental reforms are taking place, however it may be too soon to tell if it is successful.

In conclusion, despite China’s attempts to manage its environmental pollution with energy reforms and the implementation of more environmental policies, it is difficult to access the effectiveness of these actions by the Chinese government, Given China’s long adopted stance and belief with regards to its environment, it would take a long time before China successfully revert from its old ways and to manage its environmental pollution.

How far do you agree that the success of China’s economic growth since 1978 is due to its Open Door Policy?

How far do you agree that the success of China’s economic growth since 1978 is due to its Open Door Policy?

In China’s modern day economic history the Open Door Policy refers to the new policy announced by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in December 1978 to open the door to foreign businesses that wanted to set up in China. This policy adopted a stance to achieve economic growth through the active introduction of foreign capital and technology while maintaining its commitment to socialism. Since the implementation of this policy by Deng Xiaoping, is can be seen as a turning point in China economy where it was transformed from a previously failing economy whereby 60% percent of China’s 1 billion people survive on less that USD $1 a day which is the international poverty standards, to becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the 1980s. Thus, I agree that the success of China’s economic growth since 1978 is indeed due to its Open Door Policy as it paved the way for subsequent policies to be implemented by the Chinese government such as the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). At the same time, it must be noted that China’s phenomenal growth is only possible when governmental policies is able to release and harness China’s potentials towards achieving greater wealth for all.

 

  • Special Economic Zones (SEZs)

Special Economic Zones (SEZ) were set up in 1980 due to Deng Xiaoping’s belief that in order to modernize China’s industry and boost its economy, it needed to welcome Foreign Direct Investment. It was then that Chinese economic policy shifted to encouraging and supporting foreign trade and investment. SEZs were then  established in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou in Guangdong Province and Xiamen in Fujian Province and the entire province of Hainan and these areas were able to enjoy special privileges such as lower tax rates which aims to promote direct foreign investments, boosting its economy. With the success that these economic zones were having, it lead to China opening up even more economic zones that eventually had the same successes that the first SEZ had, improving the economic growth of China.

 

  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is another manifestation of the Open Door Policy which too, ensued the success of the Chinese economy since 1978. Prior to the decades before 1979, FDI was literally nonexistent in China. It was only with the Open Door Policy, the Chinese government then actively promoted and encouraged FDI as it provided the bulk of financing for China’s financing sector. Initially in 1983, the flow of foreign investment was a mere U.S. $1.7 billion, it then increased to $5.3 billion in 1988, and to $11.4 billion in 1991. Eventually, it was known that China has surpassed the United States as the world’s largest recipient for foreign investments. With these influx of FDI into China, it proved to have benefited the country tremendously with the transfer of technology, capital and the opening up of overseas export markets for China. In addition, China was able to use the huge surplus gained through these investments to invest in infrastructural and public projects that further grew China’s economy.

 

  • Determination of the CCP

The authoritarian governance of the CCP and its commitment to develop its economic growth plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of China’s economic growth. This is so as the government realized that economic growth is required to continuously generate employment and revenue for China’s vast populace and that massive populace could result in socio-political instability as it releases pent up socio-political resentments against the party. In addition, continued economic growth could also ameliorate the development and income disparity within the country. This proved to be the perfect opportunity for the Chinese government to ensure their legitimacy as it is able to ensure social stability amongst the people. Hence it was through the sheer determination of the Chinese government that led to the success of China’s economic growth since 1978.

 

  • Ability to integrate into the global economic system

China’s ability to integrate into the global economic system was also another strategy that led to the success of China’s economic growth since 1978. By effectively integrating into the global economic system, China has become one of the world’s largest markets for natural resources and primary commodities, producing a wide range of industrial and manufactured products for the world. With China’s vast market, East Asian economies benefited greatly, whilst China’s exports flood markets of developed countries. As such, this allowed China to effectively assimilate into the global economic system as China was becoming increasing relevant with regards to global trade and business. Furthermore, more than half of China’s exports are handled by foreign invested enterprises, especially from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Thus, showing that China has indeed became the integrator of global and regional production networks which can be said to contribute to the success of China’s economic growth since 1978.

 

  • Strong Manufacturing Base

By having a strong manufacturing base, China was able to ensure the success of its economic growth since 1978. China improved their industrial structure by upgrading from low-value-added agricultural sector to high-value-added industries such as manufacturing. By upgrading the industrial structure, it became more focused in the high-value added production sector by allocating its labour force in a more efficient manner. This was done by China having surplus labour and low wages, reducing the operation costs of manufacturing its goods. Hence, this made China a very ideal manufacturing hub.  In electronics and hardware, China is the manufacturing hub for companies like Siemens and Hitachi Global Systems. As such, this significantly contributed to the rapid growth of China economy, leading China to become the world’s manufacturing hub. China is not only the world’s largest exporter, surpassing Germany in 2009, it is also the world’s largest trading nation as measured by the sum of exports and imports, having replaced the United States for the first time in 2014. Hence, with the rapid shift to manufacturing higher end products and collaborations with reputable foreign companies, too, contributed to the success of China’s economic growth since 1978.

Upon analyzing the impact of China’s Open Door Policy on China’s economic growth since 1978, it can be observed that it has indeed improved its economic growth drastically, leading to the economic successes that we see today.

“Regional disparity poses a greater problem to stability than rural-urban migration” Discuss.

“Regional disparity poses a greater problem to stability than rural-urban migration” Discuss.

Regional disparities refer to the divide in economic growth and social well-being between the prosperous coastal regions and the land locked inland provinces. Because of these disparities, it inevitably led to the phenomenon of rural migration whereby rural residents migrate to urban centers to look for work. In a way, both can pose problems to stability. On one hand, regional disparity can pose as a threat to economic and social stability inside China whereas the estimated 25 million migrants pose distinct social integration and stability problems within China’s modern cities. Therefore, I disagree with the view that regional disparity poses a greater problem to stability as compared to rural-urban migration as both are equally as crucial.

 

  • Economic instability

Regional disparities can be a threat to economic stability as inland provinces are saddled by under development, corruption, pollution and bad debts. With a general lack of education, healthcare, infrastructure and technology, inland provinces could not develop as quickly as coastal ones. Furthermore, coupled with the fact that economic reforms such as the formation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) by Deng in the coastal regions in order to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and encourage economic growth, it has only resulted in these coastal regions and urban cities to benefit more from investment and development opportunities which land locked inland provinces lack. Furthermore, regional disparities are also accentuated by China’s geography, whereby mountainous Guizhou’s GDP per capita is 10% of Shanghai’s GDP. In addition, inland provinces face the most severe pollution problems that slow economic growth. Although the government has rolled out massive national level policies like Western Development Programme (2000) and Revitalize Central China (2004) and the North East China Programme (2004) to push development inland, these massive projects are often prone to corruption and had led to excessive capacity with underutilized ports, factory towns and empty housing towns. This in turn resulted in less well-off provinces taking on debts in order to stimulate economic growth. As such, China’s government’s debt has been increasing over the years and as of 2015, China’s debts is 250% times its GDP. Therefore, it is crucial that China’s issue of regional disparities is handled well as it can lead to economic instability if not carefully dealt with.

 

  • Social unrest in rural areas

Furthermore, a growing regional divide has fueled countless riots and social unrest in rural areas, given the fact that the rural regions and the rural population have never truly caught up with the coastal provinces. Whether it is education or job opportunities, social welfare or medical services, all these amenities and services are all in favour of those living in urban cities, whereas those in rural areas struggle, given the lack of development in these areas due to the priority given to coastal regions with the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). As of 2015, The GINI Coefficient for national income was 0.462, one of the world’s worst. With this drastic income gap whereby the per capita income of urban households was 2.73 times of the rural households in 2016, social instability and unrest has becomes ever more likely whereby rural citizens are no longer able to cope with the rising costs of living, resulting in up to 300-500 protests are occurring in China each day as of 2014.

 

  • Social unrest affecting national unity

The riots and suicide attacks in Xinjiang and Tibet also shows that regional disparities and a mix of religious intolerance has led to rebellion which poses a direct challenge to national unity. In the 1990s, Tibet has enjoyed annual growth rates faster than other parts of China with the Go West policy. However, this prosperity was not shared by most Tibetans and Uyghurs as most of the wealth and jobs went to Han Chinese. With the completion of iconic projects like the Beijing to Tibet railway line, the Han influx worsened inflation and widened the rich-poor gap. Not only do Tibetans and Uyghurs lack job skills to be employed in the new economy, but they do not speak Mandarin as well. This coupled with religious extremism as well as harsh crackdown on religious and cultural practices by the CCP in recent years in the name of “terrorism”, has only led to a series of severe backlash. In 2014, a string of suicide slayings and bombings by Uyghur extremists have resulted in the 2014 Kunming Attack. Thus, this shows that should the government not manage regional disparities, it can lead to instability that affects the economy due to social instability in the country.

 

  • Rural-urban migration

However, rural urban migration presents a unique threat to stability in the cities given that 250 million migrants now reside in these urban areas. The escape the poverty of the inland provinces has resulted in approximately 250 million rural migrants moving into cities to search for a better living. In most cases, these rural migrants end up forming the low wage labour force that keeps the Chinese economy growing. But at the same time, this huge influx of migrants poses as a challenge to the government in managing and policing them in cities as urban cities simply do not have the resources to provide for the huge influx of migrants. In Beijing, rural migrant takes up 1/3 of its population. Furthermore, the restriction of access to urban services imposed on these migrants by the Hukou system makes life extremely difficult for those rural migrant workers living in urban areas. This creates social tension between the migrants, locals as well as with the local authorities. In Beijing, the police has imposed walled-in villages in some places where migrants live. Harsh treatment of rural migrants by the police or urban security guards have often led to bloody riots. In 2014, five urban security guards were beaten to death by mobs for killing a street vendor believed to be a migrant worker. During times of financial crisis such as in 2008 when factories closed, rural migrants have also turned to rioting. Therefore, in such cases, the influx of rural migrants have created a volatile situation in many Chinese cities.

 

  • Lack of Hukou reforms

Similarly, the lack of Hukou reforms worsens the plight of these rural migrants and elevates the social tension. Deprived of urban Hukou rights, they remain a permanent underclass in the cities whereby they are not allowed to enjoy any urban services such as housing and education in the city that local folks have. As of 2015, approximately 40% of the primary school children in Beijing lack city Hukou with the barring of migrant children from local schools in urban cities, the estimated 50 million children living in urban cities today are denied access to education and would have to travel back to their rural province to be able to attend schools. However, even those children that remain in rural provinces do not fare that well either socially or in education. Furthermore, even if the migrant children had a university education, they have a smaller range of jobs to choose from given that some are reserved for locals. As a result, many remain jobless and join the ant tribe – workers who cannot afford housing that is becoming too expensive, but have to stay in a small rental space and travel long distance. The slow pace of Hukou reform and the general sense of injustice and discrimination felt by rural migrants have heighten the insecurity of rural migrants and causes social instability.

 

Both regional disparities and rural migration pose a threat to economic and social stability. Rural migrant problems can be said to be more pertinent as 250 million reside in the many urban cities and they become a force to contend with. If we see regional disparity as the cause for rural migration, then we can say that regional disparity is a longer term threat to disparity. Given the vastness of China, Beijing cannot solve the problems on both fronts simultaneously given that it does not have the resources to pay for urban cities’ Hukou expenses. At the same time, the development of inland provinces will take many generations and in the long run, as inland provinces develop and regional disparity diminishes, rural urban migration might become less necessary. Therefore, rural migration presents a clear and immediate threat to stability more than regional disparities.

“China’s economic development is most threatened by its regional disparities”. How far do you agree?

“China’s economic development is most threatened by its regional disparities”. How far do you agree? (Challenges to China’s economic development)

 

Since the start of reforms in 1978, spectacular economic growth and poverty reduction in China have been accompanied by sharp rises in inequality and increasingly frequent manifestations of social tension through unrest of various types. In response to these rising inequalities, an explicit objective of “harmonious development” was adopted by Chinese governments in 2005, with a key dimension of harmonious development being a balanced development across regions. Hence, it could be seen that regional disparities, if not resolved, could pose a major threat in slowing the country’s economic growth rate is also threatened by other equally important factors such as the sustainability of its cheap labour, ageing population, its property bubble and its bad debts.

 

  • Regional Disparity

Regional disparities pose a major threat to China’s growing economy as protests and unhappiness among the citizens may cripple the economic development. With location advantages, the increased investment and tax breaks made the coastal regions more attractive to both foreign and domestic companies. In less than 2 decades, China has become the largest recipient of FDI among developing countries from a virtually closed economy in the late 1970s. As a result, the coastal regions experienced much more rapid growth, widening the coastal-inland gap in the reform period since the 1970s. Since China’s economic growth success is not equally shared among its huge population, the rise in food and China’s property prices has made life very difficult for China’s poor and in turn, has resulted in increased social tension and protests against the government whereby up to 300-500 protests are occurring in China each day as of 2014. Therefore, the problems stemmed from regional disparities could act as obstacles to continuous economic growth which the Chinese government needs to observe closely.

 

  • Sustainability of Cheap Labour Costs

Nonetheless, other equally important factors such as the sustainability of cheap labour cost, could also pose a great threat to the economic development in China. For decades, China’s economy has prospered tremendously, being termed as the “manufacturing hub” of the world. However, a large part of China’s successful growth is because of a massive supply of cheap labour, with workers from rural parts of the country migrating to the cities to find employment and also attracted many multinational corporations such as Apple and Microsoft to move manufacturing operations to China. However, China’s sustainability of cheap labour costs proved to be short lived whereby many foreign manufacturers are downsizing or leaving the country due to an increase in the supply of low cost/low quality products as well as the increase in labour costs in China in recent years. For instance, Microsoft have been shutting down its factories in China, and with plant closures in Beijing and Dongguan, resulted in 9,000 job losses that made up half of the 18,000 announced in 2014. However, this is not a surprise as in any developing economy where the supply of cheap surplus labour starts to fall and the bargaining power of workers rises.

 

  • Ageing population

Another potential great threat to China’s economic development is that the ageing population may hinder the economic progress significantly. Over the past 30 years, China’s total fertility rate has fallen from 2.6%, well above the rate needed to hold a population steady, to 1.55% as of 2015. On top of fewer children being born, China is ageing rapidly, with 10.5% of its population being over 65. This means that China is likely to grow old before it grows rich, making it the first major economy to encounter such a problem. Furthermore, an ageing population would also mean that the number of people coming towards the end of their working lives would significantly increase, reducing China’s manpower which affects its economy. Hence, with an ageing population, the reduced working population in China could slow down economic development significantly.

 

  • Bad debts by local governments

Bad debts that is held by local government is also a major threat to the country’s economy. Over the years, the debts accumulated by local governments were built up to fund public works, which were supposed to be funded by the central government before the financial crisis struck in 2008. However, after this crisis, the Chinese government went on an unprecedented borrowing binge and has been struggling to clean it up ever since. As of 2015, China’s debt to GDP ratio had reached record high, with it being 250% of its total GDP. This ultimately poses as a huge threat as should its debt not be reduced, it would only result in fatal consequences such as derailing state-owned banks, triggering a systemic crisis as banks are closely linked to the government.  As such, the debt by the local governments poses a major threat to China’s future economy. If it does explode, the central government will have to step in and help.

 

  • Property Bubble

Inflated by high end speculation and the flow of cheap money, China’s property bubble seems to keep on growing and now it’s nearing its popping point which could cause a collapse in its economy. Chinese huge property bubble continues to expand spectacularly and remains central to its economy, accounting for some 10% of its total GDP as of 2013. As such, the government must, once again balance the need to cool the market, clamping down on speculative activities, while not damaging economic growth. Hence, the possible imminent property bubble burst could threaten the country’s economic development.

 

In conclusion, upon analyzing the various possible factors that could affect the economic development of China, it can be observed that although regional disparities poses a major threat to the country’s economy,  the combination of a smaller workforce and a rapidly ageing population further pose a double whammy to China’s economy.

China has successfully moved to a Market Economy. Discuss this view.

China has successfully moved to a Market Economy. Discuss this view.

In a relative short span of three decades, the Chinese economy under the CCP has managed to open up its economy, embracing capitalism and most of its practices. It is rapidly becoming the world’s largest economy, beating the developed economies in their own game. Chinese economic transformation has been therefore largely successful. However, given the politically conservative nature and authoritarian framework of the communist regime, Chinese economic transformation remains incomplete. Therefore, I disagree with the view that China has successfully moved to a market economy.

  • Market Reforms /Embrace Capitalism

China can be argued to have successfully moved to a market economy with its market reforms. After 1978, China has gradually successfully opened itself up to the forces of capitalism. Deng’s “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” justified the establishment of capitalism within communist China. With the establishment of the four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Southeastern Chinese provinces, more trading cities have emerged along the banks of the Yangtze River to facilitate international businesses into China. These SEZs are areas in which foreign and domestic companies can trade and invest without the same control and regulations from Beijing and other parts of China. Since 1982, China’s SEZs have all been developing at an incredible speed. For instance, Shenzhen itself have been especially successful in 1992 as it attracted 14% of China’s total foreign investments and the city is now one of China’s main import – export hubs as well as a leading manufacturing base. It was due to these successes that led to the Chinese government sanctioning more foreign trade areas to cities such as Shanghai today. Therefore, it can be argued that China has successfully moved to a market economy as evident from how it has opened up the forces of capitalism.

 

  • Introduction of Privatization

Secondly, the introduction of privatization has been introduced to increase the efficiency of China’s agricultural and industrial productions. In the agricultural sector, the Household Responsibility System was introduced to encourage greater productivity as peasants could now sell their surplus on the open market. Town Village Enterprises (TVEs) were later established so that surplus labour in the countryside could earn extra income, through employment in low skilled manufacturing industries. By 2008, the government allowed the more profitable farms to enjoy greater economies of scale as they could now lease land from the smaller farmers. In addition, farmers in Yunnan could also collaborate with foreign firms such as Nescafe to cultivate modern cash crops. Monetary incentives are also introduced to improve the process and productivity of SOEs. To make the SOEs internationally competitive, they were restructured and reformed along the managerial model of foreign-owned MNCs. At the same time, leaders of SOEs were better tutored in the capitalist ways by the government. Therefore, it can be argued that China has successfully moved to a market economy as evident from how privatization has been introduced to improve agricultural and industrial productivity.

  • Lack of international recognition

On the other hand, the fact that international organizations and bodies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) considers China as a ‘non-market economy’ shows that China failed to successfully move to a market economy. Although China has become the leading producer of steel, aluminum, cement and other industrial materials as of 2016, the European Union (EU) and other global organizations still refuses to debate whether China is deserving of the Market Economy Status, whereby costs and prices are determined by the market, rather than by the intervening hand of the state which is what China’s government is currently doing. As such, this allows China to export and offer its products much more cheaply to many of its trading partners, affecting the competition between its trading partners. Therefore, China fails to successfully qualify as a market economy given that its economic practices does not meet the requirements of a market economy.

 

  • Failure to adhere to economic laws

Similarly, the great influence wielded by the governmental officials in the initiation and execution polices also resulted in the Chinese economy being structurally top-down, and unresponsive to market needs. Furthermore, official dominance in national and regional commerce has made China’s market economy a farce. The intellectual circle, entertainment and information industries are often stifled by pervasive political censorship. As such, dependence on personal connections or ‘guanxi’ with the authorities and bribery have become important factors for business success and without them, large scale ventures are often impossible unless with the partnership of local authorities. Given the vast influence of the officials, the market economy system is often left unchecked. At the same time, infringement of intellectual property rights and poor quality control are rampant, with many foreign companies in operating in China often complaining that China views the appropriation of foreign innovations as a part of a policy mix aimed at developing domestic technology. Therefore, China has not totally moved to a market economy as evident from the failure to adhere to the rule of law when conducting businesses.

 

  • Ineffective SOEs

Lastly, most private enterprises in China are overshadowed by the overwhelming and often inefficient SOEs. With SOEs receiving the bulk of governmental attention, support and resources for their development, private enterprises often end up losing out. The SOEs employed millions and are not transported to their operations. The accumulated bad debts held by the state banks are often due to unprofitable SOEs which continues to receive aid from the government. As such, China undertook a first round of drastic reforms of its State-Owned Companies in the 1990s in order to cope with its massive losses, with mass closures of its weakest firms, and stock market listing for many of the highest which made them run a bit more like private companies. Although it was initially able to pay dividends, SOE’s return on assets, a gauge of their productivity rose from barely higher than a 0 in 1998 to merely 7% in 2008. Therefore, it can be argued that China has not totally moved into a market economy as evident from the inefficiency of the SOEs.

In conclusion, despite China’s market reforms, some characteristics of the politically entrenched socialist system still continues to plague the efficiency of its market practices. However, as the Chinese economic transformation is still young and ongoing, with time, this may change so long as the Chinese government and its business-minded officials continue to lead and facilitate China’s economic accomplishment.

How far has China’s recent cooperation with Taiwan improved Cross-Strait Relations?

How far has China’s recent cooperation with Taiwan improved Cross-Strait Relations?

Cross Strait Relations refers to the intersecting political, military, economic, cultural and social relationships between Taiwan and Mainland China. Based on the One China Policy, Mainland China has always wanted to have reunification with Taiwan to fulfill its traditional Chinese political ideology. It can be said that China’s recent cooperation with Taiwan has indeed improved cross strait relations due to its economic, political and social cooperation. However, there are instances in which China’s initiative cooperation have backfired and instead, decreased cross strait relations.

  • Economic Cooperation

Firstly, China’s efforts in economic cooperation with Taiwan have definitely improved cross strait relations due to increased economic interdependence. With the resumption of high level contact between Mainland China and Taiwan, it has resulted in improved and stronger financial relationships whereby Mainland Chinese investors would be permitted to invest in Taiwan’s money markets for the very first time since 1949 in 2008. With the barrier being removed, investors from Mainland China are able to apply to purchase Taiwan shares that do not exceed 1/10 of the value of the firm’s total shares. As such, this led to the improvement of Taiwan’s economy as Taiwan firms are able to benefit from the Chinese investments.  At the same time, it is known that this cooperation is initiated by China was to place restrictions on the mainland Chinese investments. Thereby, with this mutual economic inter-dependency , both countries would be more willing to have peaceful cooperation in order to protect their self-interest which ultimately improves the cross strait relations.

At the same time, with the resumption of high level contact between Mainland China and Taiwan, it has led to more successful and efficient economic pacts made between both parties. With the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between both Mainland China and Taiwan, it would increase output by NT$11 billion and create about 34,000 jobs in the Five Special Municipalities – Taipei, Xinbei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung. Therefore, this economic cooperation by China has indirectly created Taiwan’s reliance and inter-dependency on Mainland China, ultimately improving cross strait relations as both parties would be more cautious with one another

  • Political Cooperation

Secondly, China’s political cooperation with Taiwan has too, improved the cross strait relations due to China’s openness and willingness to negotiate with Taiwan. The PRC administration loosened its rhetoric in relation in Taiwan and pursued contact with apolitical or political non-independence leaning groups in Taiwan. This is seen as a huge step made by Mainland China as it is the first time that the PRC government authoritatively committed to negotiations on the basis of equal status between the two sides, and further refrained from imposed the “One China Policy” as a permanent precondition for talks. As such, this has made having negotiations significantly easier. In 2008, semi governments contacts maintained through the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) that have previously discontinued due to political differences have resumed. It is through these organizations that both parties agree on having direct flights between the two sides and that Taiwan would allow entrance of up to 3,000 visitors from Mainland China every day. Therefore, political cooperation has indeed improved the cross strait relations as it has led to better communication between both parties.

 

  • Social and Cultural Cooperation

Social and cultural cooperation with Taiwan is also another factor that improved the cross strait relations. This is so as Taiwan and Mainland China, despite sharing similar history, their cultures and traditional practices are of stark difference. As such, cultural cooperation and appreciation is of outpost significance. The frequency of cultural exchanges have also increased throughout the years as seen in the collaboration between the National Palace Museum in Taipei and the Palace Museum in Beijing on their exhibits in 2009. In addition, Mainland China also made efforts by offering students of Taiwan origin special concessions in the National Higher Education Entrance Exams in Mainland China, giving them additional leverage, Therefore, China’s initiative to foster and embrace the cultural differences between Taiwan and Mainland China and their efforts to appease the Taiwanese fundamentally improved cross strait relations.

 

  • Military Cooperation

However, there are instances in which China’s cooperation have backfired and instead, worsened cross strait relations. Some examples would include China’s military cooperation. It is known that Mainland China, Beijing’s strategy of national reunification with Taiwan had oscillated between military coercion and peaceful means. As such, China’s efforts to provide military aid to Taiwan when eastern Taiwan was ravaged by a powerful typhoon in 2009 was seen as a huge shock to the world. However, China’s attempts at military cooperation came to naught as Taiwan rejected its offer and instead, accepted help from US military. This action by Taiwan has resulted in negative sentiments amongst Mainland China as this action was perceived as Taiwan’s unwillingness to improve cross strait relations. Thereby, worsened cross strait relations even though Mainland China opted to remain silent.

 

  • USA’s close ties with Taiwan

Furthermore, USA’s close ties with Taiwan have also affected Mainland China’s Cooperative stance towards Taiwan. With USA’s continued military sales to Taiwan for its defense, as well as the possibility of extending its Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) strategy to Taiwan, this drew a forceful reaction from Mainland China as this was viewed upon as Taiwan being able to reduce China’s military clout which possibly increased Taiwan’s capability of declaring independence without fearing the threat from China’s military. In retaliation, China warned the US and Taiwan that their cooperation could suffer due to US’s decision to sell weapons to Taiwan. This whole spectacle has ultimately resulted in the worsening of cross strait relations.

On a whole, it is undeniable that China’s cooperation has indeed improved cross strait relations. However, it is ultimately up to Taiwan as to whether they would be willing to accept this cooperation, only then which cross strait relations can be fully resolved.

Access the significance of the different challenges to governance in contemporary China.

Access the significance of the different challenges to governance in contemporary China.

Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been in sole control of that country’s government and has historically been able to maintain its legitimacy. However China’s position can be seen to be compromised given the increase in social, political and economic problems surfacing in recent years such as the worsening of ethnic relations and environmental pollution. However, corruption poses as the most significant challenge to governance in contemporary China due to its political impact on other areas such as the widening income gap and China’s debt problem.

 

  • Corruption

One of the challenges to governance to contemporary China is corruption as it has prevented effective governance. Although not new, the practice of corruption has been evident in China for thousands of years, due to the emphasis of the practice of “guanxi”. However in recent years, senior officials such as Jiang Jiemin in 2014 and former military general Guo Boxiong who held onto one of China’s top military positions in 2016 have been prosecuted for corruption under the Anti-Corruption Campaign implemented by President Xi JinPing to catch both “tigers” and “flies” — big and small corrupt officials. Despite the success of this campaign with more than 300,000 being punished as of 2015, this measure eventually led to even more detrimental problems whereby many government officials are afraid and refuse to make any decisions in construction and investment projects due to fear of being accused as corrupt. As such, this heavily slowed down China’s economy, compromising on the economic growth in China given that many infrastructure projects simply could not take place. In turn, this issue has become so severe to the extent whereby in 2016, Xi JinPing had to call on government officials to maintain links with businesses and to keep in touch with private enterprises and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang criticizing “indolent officials” and warned them against neglecting their duties. Thus, showing how this effort by the Chinese government failed as it only emphasizes on the imposing of severe consequences, and not ways to curb the root cause of corruption. Therefore, this issue of corruption poses as one of the most significant challenges due to its impacts on the economy and social as a whole.

 

  • Ethnic Relations

Another challenge to governance to contemporary China is that ethnic relations are becoming increasingly combustible in China. Using the 1982 CCP decree, “The Basic Viewpoint and Policy on the Religious Question during Our Country’s Socialist Period”, religion has come under combined administrative supervision by state approved associations and close monitoring by the State Administration and Religious Affairs which are used for Tibetans, surveillance and execution of Uyghurs, to crack down on ethnic “separatism” in order to safeguard social stability. In recent years, the Chinese authorities have been more aggressive towards its policies with regards to the country’s largest minority groups such as the Mongols, Tibetans and the Uyghurs. Furthermore, the discriminatory position of the Chinese language, as the almost exclusive language of employment opportunities for government and government-supported initiatives in regions where there are substantial minorities, has augmented the complete dominance of the Han Chinese in almost all areas of political and economic significance. Although minorities generally have access to educational institutions in their own language, there are few job opportunities unless their language is used in their language of work and this is particularly true in regions such as Xinjiang, Tibet and Mongolia. Thus this discrimination has often or so, end up oppressing them, leading to the brewing of tensions which has been more combustible in recent years whereby minorities are increasingly becoming more vocal in protesting for their rights. For instance, in 2015, protests against China still continues on the 6th anniversary of the Urumqi Riots, Therefore, this poses as a challenge to contemporary China given that it effects to social stability of China.

 

  • Environmental Pollution

China’s existing environmental pollution is too, a challenge in contemporary China. With the CCP’s maxim of ‘development first, environment second’, China today faces severe air and water pollution whereby as of 2014, only 3 out of 74 Chinese cities met air quality standards and annual average levels of PM2.5, more than 20 times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safety limit of 10. As the world’s largest source of carbon emissions, China is responsible for 1/3 of the earth’s greenhouse gas output. Furthermore, with Beijing issuing its first pollution “red light” in 2015, it shows the severity of this environmental pollution. This has affected the lives of its people as poor air quality imposes a significant health burden of the urban population such as health complications like respiratory, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular diseases. In 2014, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), scientists have found that Beijing’s smog has had significant effects on the lifespan of the city’s residents, reducing their life expectancy by an average of 15 years. Despite China’s Vice Minister for the environment Pan Yue pledging more efforts to further reduce air pollution in 2015 with the amendment of the Air Pollution Control Law, the severity of air pollution still continues to persist up till today, with China topping the WHO list of deadly outdoor air pollution in 2016. Therefore, this poses a challenges to governance in contemporary China today given that more people are becoming dissatisfied with the local government as seen from the increase in pollution protests in recent years due to its inability to resolve this environmental issue.

 

  • Widening income disparity

Another challenge to the governance of contemporary China is the widening of income disparity. With China emerging as the world’s 2nd largest economy with tremendous economic growth, it has inevitably led to greater income disparity and the widening of the urban-rural divide given that this economic growth success is not equally shared among its huge population. Despite measures taken by the government such as the Income Inequality Reform Plan in 2013 to reduce income gaps, it failed to reduce this disparity, as in 2015, the GINI coefficient for national income was 0.462, one of the worst in the world. This eventually caused unhappiness amongst the rural people as while the urban elites continue to get richer, those living in the rural areas continue to struggle due to the rising cost of living and thereby, would not be able to afford any goods and services. This inability of the government to solve the issue of widening income disparity has eventually led to increasing discontent amongst the rural people towards the Chinese government, threatening the legitimacy of the government in the long run.

 

  • Fiscal Deficit (Debt Problems)

The fiscal deficit is an important challenge to the governance in contemporary China. A fiscal deficit occurs when a government’s total expenditures exceed the revenue that it generates, excluding money from borrowings. In recent years, borrowing by all levels of the Chinese government has soared to unprecedented levels and whereby as of 2015, China’s debt to GDP ratio had reached record high, with it being 250% of its total GDP, becoming one of the highest of the world. In order to attract high levels of investments from abroad, the Chinese government have provided subsidies to make investing in certain industries or sectors more attractive and less risky than it otherwise would be. In addition, cheap credit are often made available for the industry, or the government to certain preferred projects. Inevitably, banks will eventually experience a rise in nonperforming loans. This ultimately poses as a huge threat as should its debt not be reduced, it would only result in fatal consequences such as derailing state-owned banks, triggering a systemic crisis as banks are closely linked to the government.  Therefore, China’s fiscal deficit poses as a challenge in contemporary China as it severely affect China’s future economy should the economy fail to move away from investments and exports to a more consumption driven growth model.