China 2020

China 2020: How Western Business Can—and Should—Influence Social and Political Change in the Coming Decade

Michael A. Santoro
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 184
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt7z96c
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  • Book Info
    China 2020
    Book Description:

    Chinese society is plagued by many problems that have a direct impact on its current and future business and political environment-worker rights, product safety, Internet freedom, and the rule of law. Drawing on knowledge gained through personal interviews, documentary sources, and almost two decades of visits to China, Michael A. Santoro offers a clear-eyed view of the various internal forces-such as regionalism, corruption, and growing inequality-that will determine the direction and pace of economic, social, and political change. Of special interest is Santoro's assessment of the role of multinational corporations in fostering or undermining social and political progress.

    Santoro offers a fresh and innovative way of thinking about two questions that have preoccupied Western observers for decades. What will be the effect of economic reform and prosperity on political reform? How can companies operate with moral integrity and ethics in China? In China 2020, Santoro unifies these hitherto separate questions and demonstrates that moral integrity (or lack of it) by Western business will have a profound impact on whether economic privatization and growth usher in greater democracy and respect for human rights.

    China 2020 also offers a novel vision of China's future economic and political development. Santoro rejects the conventional view that China will muddle through the next decade with incremental social and political changes. Instead he argues that China will follow one or two widely divergent potential outcomes. It might continue to progress steadily toward greater prosperity, democracy, and respect for human rights, but it is also highly likely that China will instead fall backward economically and into an ever more authoritarian regime. The next decade will be one of the most important in the history of China, and, owing to China's global impact, the history of the modern world.

    China 2020 describes various tectonic social and political battles going on within China. The outcomes of these struggles will depend on a number of powerful indigenous forces as well as the decisions and actions of individual Chinese citizens. Santoro strongly believes that Western businesses can-and should-influence these developments.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5923-8
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. 1 Beyond the Shadow of Tiananmen: The Role of Foreign Business in China’s Uncertain Path to Democracy and Human Rights
    (pp. 1-19)

    When the Olympic cauldron rose into the night sky above Beijing’s National Stadium on August 8, 2008, it marked a momentous step in China’s emergence as a global power. The riveting spectacle, a combination of fireworks, high-tech wizardry and precisely choreographed routines executed by thousands of Chinese citizens was extravagant even by Olympic standards. When the elaborate ceremony was completed without a misstep, most ordinary Chinese people, some 1.3 billion of them, collectively exhaled—a sigh of relief mixed with nationalistic pride. With the Olympics, China’s moment on the world stage had arrived. For two weeks, global attention was riveted...

  6. 2 The Clipboard, the Megaphone, and Socialist Characteristics: Pragmatic and Ideological Approaches to Solving China’s Sweatshop Problem
    (pp. 20-46)

    One of the most common and evocative images of China is the sweatshop worker. Exploited and humiliated by her employer and oppressed by her own government, the Chinese worker commands an extraordinary amount of global attention and sympathy. Contributing to this attention is bit of old-fashioned protectionism and a belief that the low labor standards in China are responsible for the loss of blue-collar jobs in the West. Mostly, however, foreigners are concerned about the rights and well-being of the workers. Sweatshop labor is thus a quintessential example of an issue where criticism of China is primarily based on humanitarian...

  7. 3 Drug Safety Races to the Bottom: The Need for “Safe Trade” in Drugs and Other Products Manufactured in China
    (pp. 47-70)

    Just after the New Year in 2008, two children undergoing dialysis at St. Louis Children’s Hospital experienced severe allergic reactions. Their eyelids swelled, their heartbeats quickened, and their blood pressure dropped within two minutes of being hooked up to dialysis machines for their regular treatments. The attending physicians at the hospital had seen similar reactions a few weeks earlier. At the time, the doctors assumed it was a problem with the sterilization of the dialysis equipment. When the second incidents occurred, Dr. Alexis M. Edward realized that “we really need to report this.”¹

    After learning about Dr. Edward’s findings, the...

  8. 4 China 2.0: Illusion and Promise behind the “Great Firewall”
    (pp. 71-100)

    “Are you ashamed?” Representative Tom Lantos bellowed at executives from some of America’s leading technology companies. This was a notable low point for these executives from Cisco, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google during the February 2006 hearing before the United States House of Representatives International Relations Committee. In rapid sequence, a parade of legislators from both political parties took turns excoriating U.S.-based Internet companies for their business operations in China. It was, however, the questioning by Californian Congressman Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, that stung the most. “Yes or no?” Lantos demanded. “Are you proud of it or ashamed of it?”

    The...

  9. 5 Soft Seat on the Long March: Foreign Business and the Rule of Law in China
    (pp. 101-128)

    One of the most far-reaching and crucial aspects of China’s social and political transformation in the coming decade will be the growing importance of law and impersonal, neutrally applied rules. A fair and independent judicial system is essential to the emergence of human rights and democratic government. The path of this transformation is, however, far from secure.

    The coming decade will witness a struggle between the rule of law and the persistent vestiges of the clientalist state. Corruption and a culture of securing economic goods by cultivating good relationships with authoritarian government officials will continue to play an important role...

  10. 6 Conclusion: The Two Chinas of 2020
    (pp. 129-142)

    After nearly three decades of explosive economic growth and accompanying tectonic social changes, China’s future remains highly uncertain. This uncertainty has been heightened by the global financial meltdown that has reduced global demand for products manufactured by China’s export-dependent economy. The issues examined in this book—working conditions, product safety, Internet freedom, and the rule of law—involve ongoing power struggles on a grand social scale. Many complex factors form the background for these struggles—growing economic inequality, regionalism, corruption, and a fledgling legal and regulatory system, to name but a few of the most important ones. In this concluding...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 143-154)
  12. Index
    (pp. 155-162)