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China: The victor in the Crimean crisis

14 Mar

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China have taken the stance to support their allies Russia in the crisis that has hit the Ukraine in recent weeks. Following the Russian takeover of the Crimea, the Chinese have taken a firm position and continue to assert that “there is a good reason for why events in Ukraine have progressed to where they are today” (Reuters, 2014). China are therefore maintaining their non-interventionist policy, and it would appear that the Chinese could benefit from this conflict.

One reason being that this could end “up pushing Russia and China much closer together” (Dyer, 2014). This has been in the pipeline for a while and relations are ever improving. However, the two are “also getting close to an agreement on a major gas pipeline” (Dyer, 2014). Russia will like to see this deal happening as soon as possible, and this is something that Putin is pushing for. The Financial Times stated that “Putin wants to send a message to the EU, which continues to challenge Gazprom’s business model, and to the US regarding the strength of strategic cooperation between Russia and China” (Palti-Guzman, 2014).

A further way in which China will benefit is because of the crisis in the Ukraine, Obama’s Asian focus is now going to have to shift back to Europe. This will mean that China’s influence can once again grow in the region, and for the meantime, it means that the eyes of the White House will shift to the troubles in Europe.

References:

https://news.yahoo.com/china-calls-dialogue-resolve-ukraine-crisis-111423639.html

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/12/in_the_battle_for_crimea_china_wins

http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/01/23/guest-post-russia-china-gas-deal-maybe-later/#axzz2vyIWVQH0

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The Dragon and the Elephant: Comparing the rise of two emerging superpowers based on their modern histories, and their political systems

14 Mar

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India, following years of British colonial rule, gained independence in 1947 and in turn ‘became the world’s largest democracy’ (Calvocoressi, 1982, p. 274). However, India did not open its economy fully until after the macro-economic crisis in 1991. Although India always had a large private sector, this wasn’t fully taken advantage of until after these reforms. Since the 1991 economic reforms, although successful in part, India has had ‘relatively modest growth, and is falling behind on many fronts relative to the Chinese performance indicators’ (Basu, 2009, p. 58). World Bank data shows that India’s annual average GDP growth between 2004-2012 was 7.63%, whereas China’s was 10.51%, further supporting this point.

China’s, on the other hand, is the exact reverse. Following the victory of Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949, China is a ‘large but stable, centrally run state, and has been through its history’ (Desai, 2003, p. 3). China, to this day, continues to be ruled under this system, and the economy has flourished under it. China was a closed, centrally planned, non-market economy until 1978 when, under the reforms of Deng Xiaoping, it opened its economy and its economic rise began. ‘China reformed earlier and much more aggressively’ than India (Bloom et al., 2006, p. 5) and its economic performance has been extraordinary. China’s growth miracle has been achieved by the relaxation of some of the party’s controls, and statistics support this. ‘In 2010, its economy was 47 times larger than it was in 1980’ (Ford, 2011, p. 2).

Linking in with the two countries’ emergence is the comparison between their political systems. As noted previously, governance in India is undertaken democratically. However, China is still ruled under a single-party system, of which Communism is at the helm. Although democracy has been widely promoted in the West in the 20th century, it is evident that this is a contributing factor to India’s slower growth rate compared to China because decision-making is so difficult whereas in China, leadership diktat sets a direction brooking no opposition. Many scholars agree with this notion. Bardhan (2006, p. 14) is one who has said that often reforms can put India ‘two steps forward and one step backward’ simply because of the struggle it is to get reforms passed. Smith (2007, p. 172) is another who describes India’s system of rule as ‘a bustling, messy, sometimes near-anarchic democracy’. The advantages given to China are that ‘they are a fast-acting government implementing new policies’ where bureaucratic constraints are not an issue, therefore speeding up the capability to grow (Soil, 2011, p. 3).

This consequently means that ‘when the leadership … wants something done it gets done, from grandiose infrastructure projects downwards’ (Smith, 2007, p. 172). Contrastingly, India struggles to implement policy reforms, and the ability to speedily build up infrastructure is a real constraint. A number of scholars have been critical of India’s processes. Comments include that ‘India’s political system appears sluggish’ (Soil, 2011, p. 3). Other suggestions include ‘when India’s political leaders want something done they hope and pray it will happen’ (Smith, 2007, p. 172). Supporting this idea, the benefit of having an authoritarian, single-party government like China, means that plans can be made long in to the future without the worry of getting voted out of power. This is key in India, given it faces a regular electoral cycle, the next elections being May 2014 Hence there is a potentially a new direction for the country after each poll, whereas China is better aware of what its future aspirations are, and working to achieve them with a greater sense of purpose. Desai (2003, p. 17) states that ‘for India, any hope of growing faster depends on less government rather than more’. So the contrast shows that sometimes democracy is less effective than authoritarianism, because achieving an agreed strategy and general consensus can be problematic, which is not to say that China’ approach is intellectually better. However, it is economically more effective, at present anyway.

References:

Bardhan, P., (2006) ‘Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: A Comparative Assessment of the Rise of China and India’, Journal of South Asian Development, 1(1), pp. 1-17.

Basu, S., (2009) ‘Comparing China and India: Is the dividend of economic reforms polarised?’, The European Journal of Comparative Economics, 6(1), pp. 57-99.


Bloom D., Canning D., Hu L., Liu Y., Mahal A., Yip W., (2006) ‘Why Has China’s Economy Taken Off Faster than India’s?’, Harvard School of Public Health, (), pp. 1-39.

Calvocoressi P., (1982) World politics since 1945, 4th edn., London and New York: Longman.

Desai M., (2003) India and China: An Essay In Comparative Political Economy, Delhi: IMF.


Ford B., (2011) China vs. India: Differences, similarities and prospects, Singapore: Australian Government.

School of Inspired Leadership (2011) India and China: An Economy Comparison, : School of Inspired Leadership.


Smith D., (2007) The Dragon and the Elephant: China, India and the New World Order, London: Profile Books Ltd.

Chinas Missing Women

14 Mar

China is facing a demographic crisis of a huge gender imbalance. As the figure above shows currently there 3.8% gender gap which means currently there is a shocking 52 million more men than women (Brookes, 2013).

China Gender Gap  (Brookes, 2013).

China Gender Gap (Brookes, 2013).

Causes of this gender imbalance

World Bank (2012,pp.121) identify that this gender imbalance is driven by three main factors: son-preference, drop in fertility predominantly through the one child policy and widely available ultrasound.

One major influence on son-preference in China is cultural, Confucianism enforces the importance of patrilineality within Chinese society. Patrilineality is the importance of the male line with regard to inheritance; in China this is very rigid. (Gupta et al,2003) Whereby ancestry worship is very important but can only be truly and traditionally carried out by males thus importance of continuity of male line (Gupta et al,2003). Historically traditional practises such as female foot binding although no longer practised show imbedded cultural male superiority (Shu,2004).

In China, where the is limited social care in old age the responsibility of looking after elderly parents falls on the children. In terms of this investment, marriage means women become part of a different family economic unit therefore are more likely to after their husband’s parents rather than their own (Todaro & Smith,2006). This traditional Confucian view of family based care is challenged by modernisation leading to high level of urban migration thus making care of elderly logistically challenging (Coonan,2013)

This son preference has a regional dimension, with being strongest in towns and rural areas(Arnold & Zhaoxiang,1986).

The one-child policy was introduced in 1970s to reduce growing population pressures, where by couples in urban areas were only allowed to have one child. This indirectly emphasised son preference as a couple were only allowed one child, so prioritised having a boy. There was a rural variation to the law that couple were allowed two children if the first was a girl showing the institutionalised basis of son-preference is in china. Those couples who already have a girl are 4% less likely to be using contraception then if they have boy, thus willing to risk breach of urban one-child policy to have a boy. (Arnold and Zhaoxiang,1986). The was slightly relaxed in Decembers 2013 where if both parents where only child, they were permitted to have two children (BBC,2013)

Technological advances with sex-specific abortion have allowed a more sophisticated method to ensure the desired sex is born. In china due to the one-child policy abortions are readily available and sex-specific abortions in fact they are extremely common place (The Telegraph,2010). Sen (2003) highlighted these as being a very significant driver of China current skewed birth ratios.

Results

Son preference along with the one-child policy has contributed to 10,000 of abandonment of babies each year, the majority girls or children with severe health problems. These babies only have a one in three chance of surviving. So despite abandonment being illegal the Chinese authorise are building at least two baby hatches in each province in 2014, which allow baby to be abandoned anonymously but into a safe environment were the baby can directly be retrieved (BBC,2014). In Guangzhou 80 children were received the first two weeks of opening the baby hatch (The China Post,2014)

The number of women actually missing due to sex bias in relative care post pre and post birth was first worked on by Sen (1990). He investigated worldwide health based discrimination of females. Comparing female to male ratio of births based on Sub-Saharan African value where little gender discrimination is present. Compared to the normal value of 95 girls born to 100 boys, china only had 86 females. Further developed by Klasen(1994) and Coale(1991) found worldwide, depending on point of comparison, 60-100 million women are “missing”. In 1990 the estimated missing women in China was between 49.98 and 30.42, thus having the worst missing women problem in the world (Klasen & Wink,2003). Recent works has shown that excess mortality of females after birth is declining work wide but the advances in technology have allowed sex specific abortion is creating a new challenge, most prominent in China (Sen,2003; Klasen & Wink,2003)

Morally these “Missing” women that have died as result of “unequal treatment in allocation of survival-related goods is among worse human catastrophes of the 20th century.” (Klasen & Wink,2003).

Implications

This gender composition means there is an uneven foundation of the Chinese economy. Although China is experiencing high levels of growth what is the point of development unless it encompasses the whole nation? “Any process of growth that fails to improve the welfare of the people experiencing the greatest hardship, have failed to accomplish one of the principle goals of development.” (Todaro & Smith,2006).

This gender imbalance of due to missing women has led to male surplus in china. In the Chinese culture marriage is seen as a universal life event, with high social stigma of being single (To,2013). The surplus of men creates the opportunity for women to “marry up”. But this has led to an inequality of marriage developing, in which of unmarried aged 28-49 old 94% are male and 97% of these haven’t completed high school, often resulting in being named “guang gun” meaning “bare branches”. (Hedketh, Lu and Xing,2011) In some cases this has led to villages of bachelors developing in poor rural areas such as the ‘bachelor village’ of Banzhushan in Hunan province. (Branigan,2011)

Implication of this on these men is their self-confidence is likely to be lowered and increased risk of psychology vulnerability. Although in china the majority of violent crimes are committed by young, unmarried, low status males there is no clear evidence if unmarried men are more likely to be crime perpetrators. (Hedketh, Lu and Xing,2011)

This surplus of unmarried men has had a role in play in the boom of the sex trade in china although many other factors at play (Hedketh, Lu and Xing,2011). Interestingly there has been a flip side to this with, women are being heavily pressurised into marriage due to this surplus meaning it should be very easy to wed. Leading to many single women often who have prioritized careers subject to stigma by being named “Sheng nu” meaning “left over women” (Kay,2013). In many public parks billboards can be seen where family are “advertising” their daughters attributes to avoid them being left over (To,2013).

Overall despite having worrying human rights concerns, and major social implication Chinese society. Globally at a time where china is a growing superpower it should also be of grave concern than a country of such global importance has these imbedded and fundamental gender discriminatory views.

Words: 1,097

Bibliography

Arnold, F., Zhaoxiang, L. (1986) Sex preference, fertility and family planning in China. Population and Development Review, 12(2) 221-46

BBC (2013) China formally eases one-child policy. BBC News: China, 28 Dec. Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-25533339 [Accessed 09 March 2014]

BBC (2014) China expands abandoned baby hatch scheme. BBC News, 16 Feb. Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-26219171 [Accessed 09 March 2014]

Branigan, T. (2011) China’s village of the bachelors: no wives in sight in remote settlement. The Guardian, 2 Sept. Available at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/02/china-village-of-bachelors [Accessed 13 March 2014]

Brooks, R. (2013) China’s biggest problem? Too many men. CNN, 5 Mar. Available from http://edition.cnn.com/2012/11/14/opinion/china-challenges-one-child-brooks/ [Accessed 9 March 2014]

Coale, A. (1991) Excess Female Mortality and the Balance of the Sexes in the Population: An Estimate of the Number of “Missing Females” Population and Development Review 17 (3) pp. 517-523

Coonan, C. (2013) China law forces adult children to visit and care for their elderly parents. The Independent, 1 July. Available from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-law-forces-adult-children-to-visit-and-care-for-their-elderly-parents-8681677.html [Accessed 13 March 2014]

Gupta, M., Zhenghua, J., Bohua, L., Zhenming, X., Chung, W. and Hwa-Ok, B.(2003) Why is Son preference so persistent in East and South Asia? A cross-country study of China, India and the Republic of Korea. The Journal of Development Studies, 40(2) pp. 153-187

Hesketh, T., Lu L., Xing, Z. (2011) The consequences of son preference and sex-selective abortion in China and other Asian countries. CMAJ, 183(12) pp.1374-1377

Kay, M (2013) China’s ‘Leftover women’, unmarried at 27, BBC NEWS: MAGAZINE. 21 Feb. Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21320560 [Accessed 13 March 2014]

Klasen, S.; Wink, C. (2003) “Missing Women”: Revisiting the Debate, Feminist Economics, 9 (2), Pages 263-299.

Klasen, S. (1994) “Missing Women” Reconsidered, World Development, 22 (7), Pages 1061-1071

Sen, A. (2003) Missing women – revisited, BMJ, 327 (1297)

Sen, A. (1990) More Than 100 Million Women are Missing, BMJ , 304(6827) p.597-588

Shu, X. (2004) Education and Gender Egalitarianism: The Case of China. Sociology of Education, 77:4 pp.311-336

The China Post (2014) China to build safe havens for abandoned babies. Available from http://www.chinapost.com.tw/china/national-news/2014/02/18/400851/China-to.htm
[Accessed 09 March 2014]

The Telegraph (2010) Chinese gender imbalance will leave millions of men without wives. The Telegraph, 11 Jan. Available from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/6966037/Chinese-gender-imbalance-will-leave-millions-of-men-without-wives.html [Accessed 09 March 2014]

To, Sandy (2013) Understanding Sheng Nu (“Leftover Women”): The Phenomenon of Late Marriage among Chinese Professional Women. Symbolic Interaction 36:1pp.1-20

Todaro, M., Smith, S. (2006) Economic Development 9th Edition Harlow:Pearsons

World Bank (2012) World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development. Washington DC

Is it the end of the One-Child Policy?

10 Mar

China’s one-child policy is infamous the world-over. It’s divided the country, created countless social difficulties, and brought into question China’s human rights record once again. And yet it has survived for over 30 years, preventing the birth of an estimated 400 million children. Experts have increasingly made know their concerns with the continuation of the policy, and their hopes that the recent alterations made may be a sign that further reform is in sight, possibly even resulting in the end of the policy altogether.

The policy was established in 1979, following concerns regarding the speed of population growth, and the scarcity of resources it was causing. Previous Chinese governments had encouraged couples to have large families as a means of increasing the labour force, but by 1950 the rate of population change was 1.9% each year, and 1970 saw an average 6 children born to every Chinese woman. Considering that a growth rate of just 3% would’ve caused the population to double in less than 24 years, it was clear that such high rates of fertility and population growth were unsustainable – something needed to be done.

Whether a policy as drastic as that established was necessary has been much discussed, yet it certainly worked. Enforced by the ‘National Population and Family Planning Commission of China’, it became an aggressive effort to improve standards of living and the economy through population control, rewarding those that followed the rules and harshly sanctioning those that didn’t. Current rewards for good behaviour include a “Certificate of Honour for Single-Child Parents”, and benefits such as loans, social assistance, and other assistance depending on the family’s socio-economic status. Those who don’t comply on the other hand are subject to penalties including fines (ranging from half the local average household income to more than 10 times that level), confiscation of belongings, and administrative sanctions for government employees. Even the “excess” children themselves may be sanctioned, with restricted access to health care and education.

one-child-china_2511010b

The policy has certainly made a visible impact on society. Prior to the policy’s introduction, a typical Chinese home contained a sprawling family of many generations, whereas now the average household contains a husband, wife and only-child. The fertility rate has been falling since 1979, and currently hovers around 1.8 on average, but in areas such as Beijing and Shanghai is as low as 0.7. The rate of population growth has also fallen, now standing at 0.7%. Furthermore, contraceptive rates are now unusually high in China, as high as 89% for married women, much higher than the 59% average for other developing countries.

Although the policy has therefore had the desired effect, there has been constant concern surrounding it, internally and globally. Claims that women have been forced/coerced into abortions and in some cases sterilisation by family planning clinics, has attracted horror from the worldwide community, as well as accusations of human and reproductive right issues. There have also been accusations of female infanticide and discrimination against women, due to family planning policies and the traditional preference of males in society, reinforced by the economic restrictions placed upon women by poor governmental policies affecting the labour force, and the small amount of old-age support from the state, creating a need for a child that can earn enough money to support parents when they are no longer able to work. This has meant large numbers of female babies have ended up homeless or in orphanages, and in some cases, murdered. It was reported in 2000 that 90% of aborted foetuses were female, and in rural parts of the country, infant mortality rates were as much as 27% higher for girls than boys, often due to neglect.

Faced by such disturbing figures, it is unsurprising that alterations to the policy have been made throughout its 30 years of existence, particularly in the past decade. The NPFFPC have launched a campaign named ‘Girl Care’ in rural regions, and have made it illegal to discriminate against women who give birth to baby girls, as well as prohibiting ultrasounds to determine gender and sex-selective abortions after an ultrasound. There are also some new exceptions to the one-child rule, whereby couples are able to apply for a permit to have more children. Couples are allowed up to three children if they are an ethnic minority, and any couple whose child is disabled or killed in an accident may be allowed to have a second child.  Also, couples can now apply to have a second child if their first is a girl, or if one of the parents are only children themselves. This new alteration was introduced only last year, and now means that a 1/3rd of couples can apply for a second-child permit.

But are these changes too little too late? China’s population may be rising more slowly now, but it still has a huge total population of 1.3 billion, and it faces difficult challenges. The birth rate is falling, creating an ageing population who are unsupported due to the limited people of working age. It is estimated that around 194 million Chinese over the age of 60 have no or too few children to care for them. This has been caused by the smaller workforce comprised of singleton children, who are unable to financially support two ageing parents. Such filial support is necessary due to China’s lack of social welfare system. The second big problem in China is the large gender imbalance that has existed for some years, with reports saying that men now outnumber women by more than 60 million, forcing them into a lifetime of bachelorhood.

With these implications considered, what is the future for China’s one-child policy? The alterations made in recent years aim to ease the strain of the gender imbalance and ageing population that have been created. For example, the 2013 policy allowing couples where either parent is an only-child to have two children, is expected to create a minor population boost of about 1 to 2 million additional children born every year. This has been viewed by many as opening the door to further reform, with a senior family planning official saying China may in the future allow every couple to have two children. Experts say it is not a question of if, but when. Currently, the impact of such a change is being researched by the NPFFPC, with Ma Xu, head of research within the organisation, saying that the population would increase by an estimated 10 million every year if such a policy was introduced. For a long time experts and officials have been lobbying for this alteration, with some seeing it as a step towards ending birth control policies entirely, and side-stepping the demographic timebomb that lies ahead if China continues on its path of population control.

Sources:

Managing Population Change, BBC Bitesize http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/geography/population/managing_population_rev3.shtml [Last Accessed: 07/03/2014]

Branigan, T. (2013) China’s one-child policy’s human cost fuels calls for reform. Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/16/china-one-child-policy-calls-reform [Last Accessed: 07/03/2014]

Brangian, T. (2014) China may opt for ‘two children’ policy in future, says senior official. Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/04/china-may-opt-two-children-policy [Last Accessed: 07/03/2014]

Trimarchi, M. (2008) What is China’s One Child Policy? Howstuffworks.com http://people.howstuffworks.com/one-child-policy4.htm  [Last Accessed: 07/03/2014]

Asian Economic Slowdown; the Shape of Things to Come?

10 Mar

A slight turn in the economic markets of South-East Asia has begged the question of China of whether this is the start of an era of economic slow down, or in fact the beginning of a new era of reform policies based in moulding a domestic consumer based economy.

‘(On Monday, 10/03/14) Both Hong Kong’s Hang Sang Index and the Shanghai Composite fell by 2% while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 1%.’ (BBC) This downturn, spread throughout the entire region, is feared to be indicative of perhaps a slow down for China, the fear that surely the prosperity of the past three decades couldn’t last. With such strong interlinking trade partnerships and diplomatic relations in the region being developed through the likes of ASEAN, perhaps any struggle within China is now guaranteed to leave the region hardest hit over the entire global economic system.

However, the links and dependency China has developed globally can be seen in the reaction to this economic fall, ‘China said exports plunged 18.1%.’ (BBC, 10/03/14) This is a display of the outward dependency China’s growth has been formed upon and how easily it can be taken away, hence why efforts within China have been strategically focussed on creating a domestic consumer based economy that can make use of the huge population and provide long term growth.

Perhaps we will see more slow downs and upsets as the CCP attempts to implement very difficult reforms to ensure the longevity of their economy. We can see the domestic led focus on the economy when the Chinese finance minister discussed the aim of 7.5% GDP growth in 2014, yet still highlighted that missing this target or bypassing was not the main aim, rather job creation was at the centre of the Party’s thoughts (BBC, 10/03/14). Clearly the strong growth, although wanting to be maintained is not the primary focus during this reform period, rather satisfying the citizens through job creation and hopefully leading to the eventuality of returned strong growth at the hand of domestic consumers is the end goal.

Read more of the Monday downturn here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26510500

New strategy for a leading power?

6 Mar

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China consists of the leading number of internet users in the world with a staggering 600 million users online. Just last week, China set up a new committee that were to establish a sensible cyber strategy for China, and at the head of this committee is the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. Speaking at this committee meeting, Xi Jinping said that “Internet security and informatisation is a major strategic issue concerning a country’s security and development as well as people’s life and work” (Panda, 2014). Xi Jinping continued to state that he want to build China into a cyber power.

What is hard to believe is that Xi Jinping had to address this issue. China are already one of the leading ‘cyber powers’, and are certainly at the forefront of issues in the cyber realm. China, it is believed, are behind a huge amount of cyber attacks, and because of the problem of attribution in cyber space, it is hard to fully credit the attacks to them. It is also believed that many of these attacks are state-sponsored.There was a report released last year by security firm Mandiant, and this exposed a cyber unit operating for the People’s Liberation Army, essentially workers for the state .

Relations between the US and China were uneasy last year because of disputes arising from this area of concern, China’s conduct in the cyber realm. This issue was later resolved and the two are now apparently working together to prevent further cyber attacks (Inocencio, 2013).

What is safe to say is that with this new committee in place, and with the president at the helm, China are only reiterating their intentions in cyber space and they are showing their “national commitment to developing a robust cyber capacity” (Panda, 2014).

References:

http://thediplomat.com/2014/03/xi-jinping-china-should-become-a-cyber-power/

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/11/business/us-china-relations-new-chapter

https://www.mandiant.com/blog/mandiant-exposes-apt1-chinas-cyber-espionage-units-releases-3000-indicators/

The New Cold War?

6 Mar

A couple of weeks ago there was a very interesting special report in the FT Weekend Magazine. The issue in question surrounds the competing military’s of the US and China; specifically their navies.

The US, since World War Two, has been the prominent force in the Pacific. However now that China are on the rise, and expecting to be the worlds leading economy, they want to challenge this US hegemony. China “wants a return to the leadership position it has enjoyed so often in Asian history” (FT Weekend Magazine, 2014, p.14).

At present the US has the worlds largest military and their spending equates to 39% of the world total share (SIPRI, 2013). In comparison, the Chinese, the second largest spenders on military expenditure equate to only 9% of the world share. However, China’s military spending has risen massively in the last 20 years, “and their navy has been given pride of place” (FT Weekend Magazine, 2014, p. 14). The Chinese are also investing their time and money into technologies designed to keep enemies at bay, essentially, to keep the US as far away as possible.  Dennis Blair, a spokesman from the Obama administration even said that “ninety per cent of their time is spent on thinking about new and interesting ways to sink our ships and shoot down our planes” (FT Weekend Magazine, 2014, p. 15).

It can be suggested that China’s aim is to really cement their place in the global system and to challenge US hegemony. China, buy the looks of things, are trying to “reshape the balance of power in Asia” (FT Weekend Magazine, 2014, p. 15). This will most certainly be an issue that shall continue for the coming years, this ‘stand-off’ between the US and China is to be at the forefront of international politics in the 21st century.

References:

http://books.sipri.org/product_info?c_product_id=458#

FT Weekend Magazine, February 22/23 2014

US and China: The Future of Relations?

4 Mar

This small BBC article focuses on how the US initially outlined the attacks in Kunming as “a horrific, senseless act of violence”. (BBC,2014) Yet now, in light of the Chinese media reaction to this statement and them not deeming it a ‘terrorist’ attack, they have declared it an act of terrorism. Although a minor scuffle, I think the exchange draws on a much more contentious debate in International Relations; the way in which the two powers will engage in light of China’s rising power.

There are two main competing paths about which way the United States will react to the rising power and obviously we already have examples of engagement between the two to draw on.

Will it act cooperatively or competitively? Neo-realists like Mearsheimer would suggest that the US should expect China to act in an aggressive, competitive manner as they will what to ensure their own security in international relations, and he believes this is achieved by securing the most power, thus America should respond in the same manner. Neo liberal institutionalists would believe that America has little to worry about so long as they integrate China in to the standing systems of international governance which create interdependency and cooperation between nations, thus informing America to act in a cooperative manner. This example here would see America acting in quite a cooperative manner, it has angered the Chinese and thus wishes to put right.

However if we analyse further this may be because America simply has no other choice. The United States is in a position where China holds the largest amount of off shore dollars and treasury bonds as well as being highly indebted to them. Whilst China has the largest surplus in its current account, America’s has the largest debt. Chinese prosperity may be having the effect of thus far deciding American foreign policy towards it for them as the United States has more to lose through acting competitively than it has to gain. It would seem the hegemonic power the United States has been so happy to manipulate in the past is waring away in light of a developing competitor. The United States may see itself as having to act cooperatively so as to ensure China doesn’t feel threatened in a way so as to act competitively, which thus far it hasn’t, out of fear of the global ramifications.

Full article:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-26414018

China’s Greatest Threat to Development Lies Within.

4 Mar

Despite China’s prosperous growth over the past three decades many onlookers suggest they still have many boundaries to overcome. Some place emphasis on their role in global politics and governance as a key threat to their future success, however I will explore the threats that reside within China’s own borders, and how these could be the most important factors to their continued success. Moving forward Anka Lee suggests that, “the build up of internal pressure, coupled with the inability of developed economies to sustain China’s export-oriented economy, means that efforts to rebalance-internally and, in the process, externally- must take place.” (2013)

As a result of the economic downturn in the west China’s own economy began to suffer because of its export-led foundations. Zheng Xinli explains that what became apparent because of this was that, “fiscal reform (will be) the main force to shift the investment oriented growth pattern into a consumption-driven one.” (Chen, 2014) Reform to the economic system is imperative in China to move away from its outwards dependency and rather utilise its mass population to create a consumer driven economy. These reforms are hugely important to continued success, because its external dependency allows actions throughout the world to destabilise itself, Bijian (2005) outlines why it is even worse for China to face any issues, “(as) China has a population of 1.3 billion. Any small difficulty in its economic or social development, spread over this vast group, could become a huge problem.” The gravity of the situation is felt by China’s leaders and has seen them adopt policies to allow for transition in the economy, Li Keqiang explains how they will, “adjust the economic structure (to) help enhance sustainability of growth, accelerate the shift from a policy driven economy to a domestically oriented one, and prevent wild economic fluctuations.” (2012)

Thus, motivating the large population and modernising the country are implicit to creating the consumer-led economy that is so vital to ensuring long term prosperity. This is already being pursued, “about 10 million Chinese migrate to urban areas each year in an orderly and protected way, they provide Chinese cities with new productivity and new markets and help end the backwardness of rural areas.” (Bijian, 2005) This move is important as related statistics show that urban residents spent 3.6 times more than rural dwellers in 2010 (Keqiang, 2012) displaying why urbanisation is implicit to overcoming future economic threats through the creation of a large consumer base. They still have a long way to go, with such a large population it makes development of this type of economy that much more difficult, in 2010 China’s consumption ratio was 47.4% whilst the US was 87.7%, the EU was 80.7% and Japan was at 78.6%, these are the figures China needs to push for to remove that dependency on foreign consumers.

On top of this need to modernise the population comes the sustainability threat it creates through doing this. As modernisation and development takes place and more move into large cities, environmental issues present themselves which also could hinder the future success of China, “China has paid a heavy environmental price for three decades of economic growth.” (Bloomberg, 2013) Firstly, “the scarcity of natural resources available to support such a huge population, especially energy, raw materials and water-is increasingly an obstacle.” (Bijian, 2005) This over time threatens the ability to continue the level of development they are currently working at, however on top of this is the environmental degradation aspect that is associated with their current development path. “In Beijing, air pollution levels (have) rose to 20 times the recommended limit by the WHO…over a million Chinese citizens die of air pollution per year.” (Klabin, 2013) These extraordinary numbers display the harmful nature that is attached to the unsustainable mechanics of China’s development, more environmentally sound methods need to be pursued alongside rapid development if the country is to not find instability created through its methods of progression.

This potential instability sources with the large population who’re becoming angered over pollution and who will become antagonised should economic prosperity falter, presenting another point of how Chinese success hinges on satisfying the citizens, primarily so they do not become disenchanted with the government; the CCP’s largest fear. What is happening is that the opening up of China’s economy has allowed for other ideas to filter through the censorship and as a consequence more people are outspoken about issues they find with the system and the government. “Between 2006 and 2010 the number of mass incidents doubled to at least 180,000…increased use of mobile phones and the internet has allowed protesters to show their anger more effectively.” (Bloomberg, 2013) This displays how modernisation and development may in fact also be causing negative effects to the durability of the current system despite them having created mass economic growth and wealth uplift. This may present a huge issue to stability with the government in the future potentially having to manage serious governmental reforms in light of further citizen mobilisation and awareness.

The final internal issue i’m going to discuss is with regard to the ageing population of China. “At the end of 2011, when the total Chinese population reached 1.34 billion, 13.7% of the population were 60 or over, that’s 185 million people…the UN considers a population to be ageing when 7% of its population is aged 65 or over.” (BBC, 2012) Although a portrayal of how successful development is allowing people to live longer because of better living standards and access to health care there are economic and social consequences of such age. As a developing country China may not be able to take the burden this brings with it, “a huge fiscal deficit due to soaring pension expenses and increased medical costs.” (BBC,2012) On top of this the labour force is affected, and this is key to continued economic growth thus the ageing population also has the potential to hinder economic sustainability. Professor Cai Fang “estimates that the rapid decrease of labour force will lower China’s annual growth rate by 1.5% points from 2012 to 2015, and decrease a further percentage point during the period from 2016-2020.” (BBC, 2012) This shows the huge ramifications the likes of the one child policy and modernisation, which can trigger families into having less children, may have caused for the country and its future stability and success.

China and its government have a long task ahead of them to achieve developed country status and many hurdles stand in its way of getting there. It will take long term policy making and a sustainability focus to all policies that will allow them to hopefully continue their success however it will be a tumultuous journey that is far from ease.

References

BBC News. (2012) Ageing China: Changes and Challenges. BBC. Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19630110>

Bijian, Zheng. (2005) China’s “Peaceful Rise” to Great-Power Status. Foreign Affairs. Available at: <http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/61015/zheng-bijian/chinas-peaceful-rise-to-great-power-status> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Bloomberg News. (2013) Chinese Anger Over Pollution Becomes Main Cause of Social Unrest. Bloomberg. Available at: <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-06/pollution-passes-land-grievances-as-main-spark-of-china-protests.html> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Haass, Richard N. (2011) China’s Greatest Threat Is Internal. Council on Foreign Relations. Available at: <http://www.cfr.org/china/chinas-greatest-threat-internal/p26930> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Keqiang, Li. (2012) China Deepens Strategy of Domestic Demand Expansion in the Course of Reform and Opening Up. China.org.cn Available at: <http://www.china.org.cn/china/2012-03/04/content_24801231.htm> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Klabin, Roy. (2013) The Biggest Risk to the Environment? China’s Population. PolicyMic. Available at: <http://www.policymic.com/articles/53181/the-biggest-risk-to-the-environment-china-s-population> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

Lee, Anka. (2013) Taking a Different View on China’s Rise. Truman National Security Project. Available at: <http://trumanproject.org/in-the-news/the-diplomat-taking-a-different-view-on-chinas-rise/> [Accessed 24th February 2014]

China “In Agreement” with Russia over Crimea conflict

3 Mar

China have threatened to further expand the divide between the West and the East today, after refusing to condemn the recent actions of the Russian Federation as they continue to occupy Ukraine’s region of Crimea. This follows the major political upheaval in Ukraine that has left it vulnerable.

Currently the countries that have condemned Russia’s actions include: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, China will now not be looked on favourably by these nations due to their agreements with Russia.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang explained: “China has always upheld the principles of diplomacy and the fundamental norms of international relations. At the same time we also take into consideration the history and the current complexities of the Ukrainian issue.”

This follows news that Ukraine has asked the UN Security Council to come and protect them from continued Russian movements.

However, there are lingering doubts and concerns over the UN’s ability to prevent conflict. The Independent reported that Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has already held talks with China over the possibility of vetoing any internationally sanctioned military action. This has raised theories that the UN needs reform, as both an aggressive Russia and an increasingly dominant China hold UN veto’s.

Decisions will need to be made quickly either way as conflict nears, Russia has already threatened Ukrainians forces to leave Crimea by Tuesday 5 a.m or face military assualt.