Advantages of Modernization
- Promoted Economic Development
Modernization has brought about the advantage of attracting foreign investors, which promoted economic development in China. This has resulted in China’s economic dominance in the world today. The earliest, and one of the most fundamental, of the reforms was the implementation of the Responsibility System or Household Responsibility System in agriculture in 1979. This allowed for the returning of lands to individual families, essentially privatizing Chinese agriculture and thereby ending 20 years of the People’s Communes, the distinctive Chinese form that collectivized agriculture taken in 1958 during the Great Leap Forward. Following that, 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. Therefore, foreign participation in the Chinese economy was encouraged leading to the eventual success of the whole Chinese economy today due to the process of modernization
- People more aware of their rights
Modernization has allowed for easier information flow, which has resulted in people getting more aware of their rights. This has demanded and helped the CCP address the human rights issues more directly and easily, with the people recognizing their due rights. The question of human rights, or more precisely the lack of human rights in China did not become an issue of serious international concern until the late 1980s when China became more open and accessible to foreign visitors including academics, journalists and the employees of international NGOs. For instance, the military suppression of the Democracy Movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989 concentrated Western attention on the more brutal aspects of the Chinese government. As a result, with the international community acting as a watchdog for China’s actions, the Chinese population has become more aware of their human rights. With such an awareness raised, the CCP have been compelled to solve issues efficiently in order to maintain societal order. Due to international pressure, China has formally pledged to improve its human rights issue as an National Human Rights Action Plan of China was launched in 2016. Therefore, modernization has allowed for easier information flow resulted in raised awareness amongst the Chinese in terms of their human rights, which has compelled the CCP to solve human rights issues well in order to maintain stability in China.
Disadvantages of Modernization
- Rising Income Disparity
Modernization was disadvantageous with the introduction of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), it has inevitably led to the rise of income disparity. These SEZs were mainly coastal regions and with China’s emphasis on prioritizing its economic growth, this resulted in the increased investment and tax breaks made to these areas as compared to rural inland locations. 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, it has inevitably led to the rising income disparity and coupled with China’s tremendous economic growth over the years, this income gap only ends up getting wider. As such, it has led to a situation whereby 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.
- Distortion of Chinese Society’s National Identity
Modernization has been disadvantageous because it introduced Western influence to the Chinese society, distorting China’s national identity in the process. While the reforms have the appearance of an admirable and progressive approach to the economy, the Chinese identity has on the other hand, suffered repercussions due to the external influences modernization has brought. Ever since China opened itself up to the West for the sake of the economy in 1979, the Chinese cultural identity has experienced radical changes as ideals of Western materialism and capitalism entered China. For instance, the influence of American movies, pop culture and even western modes of beauties has increased in its presence in the Chinese society. In addition, traditional Chinese identity has been adversely affected as most Chinese today go to hospitals which practice western medicine, instead of orthodox Chinese medicine. As a result, traditional Chinese culture is nowadays seen as “old” or “obsolete”, while Western culture is seen as modern and cool. Therefore, modernization has brought about Western influences, which continue to distort China’s traditional national identity as Western ideals such as democracy and human rights become widespread in the country.