New Year, Same Old Issues

11 Feb

It is another new year in China, and it is the turn of the snake, the animal sign for ‘the intuitive, introspective, refined and collected’.

The Chinese New Year celebrations seen around the world serves as a good indicator over China’s increasing global cultural influence , yet to be truly accepted as a legitimate and respected member of the international community, China will need to address the impurities and unwanted elements that have emerged alongside its dramatic economic rise in the past 30 years, and there are several key issues that needs urgent attention.

To become ‘refined’, like the Snake, China’s political elite must tackle the ‘structural deficiencies’ (Dreyer, 2011) that have the worrying potential to cause mass social disruption and threaten the stability of society as a whole. These include a growing gap between the rural and urban areas due to stagnant reforms during the 1990s in rural areas which exacerbated the disparities and led to mass urban migration. Inequality has become widespread within China’s society, a farcry from the egalitarian foundations during Mao’s reign. Other urgent issues include environmental degradation, and the much publicized human rights controversies surrounding some of China’s practices and corruption inside its government. Externally, Taiwan and the dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands remain potential areas of conflict that could seriously test China’s commitment to its ‘peaceful rise’.

It is also evident after the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 that the economic orthodoxy of the West no longer represent the best approach for a thriving and stable economy, especially when we consider the state of the West and China’s unique social, cultural and historical context coupled with its vast population. China’s reliance on export and investment for economic growth must be redirected towards domestic consumption of its growing middle class, long term stability and sustainability should now be prioritized over short term economic gains.



One Response to “New Year, Same Old Issues”

  1. kh13g11 February 13, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    Gong Xi Fa Ca! – wishing you prosperity!
    Last year was the year of the dragon and like other animals of the zodiac this comes with meanings that Chinese people relate to how their year will pan out. One of the characteristics of the dragon is that they are generally romantic as well as being energetic and confident. This has impacts on the demographics as the year of the dragon that started on the 23rd January 2012 is associated with spikes in fertility and economic booms. Births in the year of the dragon are associated with power and wealth leading prospective mothers to time their pregnancies to fall in one of these years. Last time the year of the dragon fell the ‘one child policy’ was more strictly enforced and were likely to be more significant than the 5% previously recorded.
    An economic benefit of the year was also recorded as it is likely that the more babies are born the greater the levels of imports as Chinese couples generally seem to trust foreign brand more than their own. Disposable incomes have grown since the last year of the dragon, rising 8% (19 109 Yuan) by 2010, which is almost double the amount that they had in 2005.
    It is shown in the literature, (Ahmad, 2011) that there is also a demographic bounce in January that corresponds with each annual New Year as the celebratory period is held with such high regard.
    This year being the year of the snake starts as is customary with the 15 day festival that ends with the festival of light. The snake is sometimes referred to as a more junior dragon due to the similarity in their appearances. The people born in the year of the snake are eant to be able to manoeuvre themselves through opportunities to reach their own destinies and destinations. People born in this year are also meant to be sophisticated, calm and not outwardly emotional. A famous person to have been born in a year of the snake is China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong. The general secretary of the communist party is Xi Jinping, who was born in 1953, which coincidently was also the year of the snake.
    Ahmad, Z. and Hussain, S. (2001), KLSE Long Run Overreaction and the Chinese New-Year Effect. Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, 28: 63–105. doi: 10.1111/1468-5957.00366

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