Friday, April 15, 2005

China

This NY Times report on how "Thousands of Chinese Villagers Protest Factory Pollution" is a good indication of the problems facing the Chinese government today. I'm currently doing a Directed Study on 'The Rise of China'. China's re-emergence (in 1820 it accounted for approx 35% of global output) as an economic power and its subsequent military modernization program is not unique, indeed, many Asian states are going through or have been through a similar process. What makes China special are two factors: it's huge population & territory size therefore its potential & the structure of its state. 'China Threat' theorists argue that unlike the Soviet Union, China will be a strong military founded on a credible economic base. They argue for containment in order to prevent China from changing the balance of power in the Taiwan strait. While having many concerns over China (how couldn't u?), I am already persuaded by the 'engagement' argument. This is because China has a "nonadaptive, brittle state that is unable to cope with an increasingly organized, complex, and robust society". The NY Times report is an example of how civil unrest is threatening the Chinese state. Engagement is causing this unrest, something we should welcome as it will likely lead to political reforms. I think it is important to remember this: Change WILL happen. Now having said that the recent anti-secession law doesn't look quite so menacing and the US hopes for "improved relations in religious freedom with the Catholic Church, with the Dalai Lama’s representatives" are only a matter of time.
This interview discusses the influence of Christianity on China and the author draws parallels between South Korea and China. Both are mainly Confucian cultures that are being 'christianized' (30% Christains in SK and 4% so far in China) and SK is now a democracy. This leads him to hope for similar change in China. There is also hope as many believe economic development leads to political reform. Ayn Rand, as usual, knew this when she wrote in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, that "the more complex an economy, the greater the number of choices and decisions that have to be made - and, therefore, the more blatantly impracticable it becomes for this process to be taken over by a central government authority. If there are degrees of irrationality, it would be more plausible to imagine that a primitive, pre-industrial economy could be managed, non-disastrously, by the state; but the notion of running a scientific, highly industrialized society with slave labor, is barbaric in the ignorance it reveals".

btw, I'm considering buying 'China, Inc' by Ted Fishman, anyone by chance read it?

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