Undermining China

20 Apr

In a way, China has always been looked down upon by the ‘stronger’ Western powers. It is regarded as more backwards, less developed, untamed, uncivilised, and what have you. Unsurprisingly so, especially if we were to look back into the Chinese history, there are many instances of China being attacked by ‘foreign barbarians’ because then, China was weak. The more recent instance being the ‘Eight Nations Alliance,’ where the armed forces of eight countries joined together to attack China as a whole, during the Boxer Rebellion in the 1900s.

Ever since then, China has risen to be a global power, perhaps not only in trade obviously. Chinese are all over the globe and likewise, the rich Chinese culture and heritage. It is an economic miracle and is the ‘factory’ of the world. Slowly but firmly, this China is advancing; from a nation of low-cost manufacturing to one that relies on innovation and intellectual property. Changes are dramatic.

China was once infamous for its many loopholes in its law and constitutional system. However now, China is transformed to a country that leads the world in patent filings. As a matter of fact, in April 2012, in Shanghai, a small U.S. firm enforced its legal rights (patents and trade marks) against a Chinese infringers in the Chinese court. Rule of law ruled the day, ultimately. Almost 30 years ago, there was essentially no intellectual property law in China. Look at the China now, it is regaining its leadership in innovation and technology. It has to be recalled that Chinese were great inventors. From paper, compass, gunpowder, mechanical clocks to the printing system; they were all Chinese creatures. Naturally then, the current rise of innovation in China is not something novel, but a return to its ancient glory and splendour.

China’s rise is demonstrated by its ballooning share of trade in its Gross Domestic products. Barry Buzan claimed that “China is currently the most fashionable potential superpower and the one whose degree of alienation from the dominant international society makes it the most obvious political challenger.”, Militarily, China has a massive showcase to boast to the world; from its huge  numbers of troops to its many weapons capable of mass destruction. It was even claimed that in 10-15 years time, Chinese currency (Yuan) will replace the U.S. dollars as the world’s reserve currency. (A. Subramanian)

No one really knows the future, but for now, it serves as a useful knowledge not to undermine China, and of course, its people.

Jeffery L, ‘The Rise of Innovation in China: Failed Western Stereotypes,’ Rainforest Realities 18 July 2012, http://www.rainforestrealities.com/2012/07/18/the-rise-of-innovation-in-china-failed-western-stereotypes/?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=appna2012&utm_content=The-Rise-of-Innovation-in-China-Failed-W&utm_campaign=appg

Buzan, Barry (2004). The United States and the Great Powers. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press. p 70.

Arvind Subramanian, ‘Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance‘ 2012


One Response to “Undermining China”

  1. cw12g11 April 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    By 2020 China is expected to overtake America as the ‘richest’ state in the world, a feat that no non Western power has ever come close to holding. According to Goldman and Sachs by 2050 China’s GDP will roughly be around $70, 000 billion, nearly double that of her closest rivals of America, India, Brazil etc. With a population of over one billion (1.3 billion) China faces an obvious problem – too many people in a country too small. It is widely held that as states modernise they Westernise, an overtly Western-centric view of examining this notion. However, Martin Jacques notes that in order to understand China one needs to abolish their western understanding. To then understand China, one must understand its thoughts, its culture, its ideas etc. Consequently, then what does it mean to be Chinese – it refers to their practices, their rituals i.e. Confucian thought, ancestral worship, social relations, their civilisation. Martin Jacques, in 2010 gave a lecture explaining the rise of China over the past 30 years. He points to three building blocks that help to explain China’s rise: China as a civilisation state, Chinese race and the Chinese state.

    Firstly, contrary to the West China is a civilisation state, not a nation state. China adopts a nation state mentality as seen clearly in the Hong Kong region which operates under a policy of ‘One Nation Two Systems’. Compare that to the West and you can see a difference – In 1990 Germany unified into one nation state whereby East Germany was essentially swallowed by West Germany to create what we now call Germany. What we saw here was a case of ‘One Nation One System’ – a very rigid system of thought.

    Secondly, one must assess the importance of race in understanding China’s rise to the forefront of the international arena. Of the 1.3 billion Chinese, 90% believe they are Han Chinese. Compare that with the West and you can see a very different story – take Great Britain for example, you have an amalgamation of identities i.e. English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish. The Han identity is what holds China together. In Britain right now, Scotland is soon to have an independence referendum, potentially signalling the end of this relatively small state. In the context, China is successfully held together with a population of 1.3 billion people, while Great Britain with a population of 63 million is slowly disintegrating into a series of nation states.

    Finally, in China the state is part of the family. The state is treated as part of the intimate family – held in high authority and legitimacy. In the West we believe that the state’s authority and legitimacy is a function of democracy. Meanwhile, in China the state enjoys more authority and more legitimacy compared to its western counterparts. In Europe, the state is always challenged, yet in China the state is venerated and held in high regard. The state is simply everywhere as can be seen by the state’s One Child Policy for example. The Chinese state is the representative, embodiment of Chinese civilisation.

    To understand the rise of China, one must understand the importance of these three building blocks that have mixed together to facilitate China’s rise.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imhUmLtlZpw Martin Jacques. Understanding the Rise of China.

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