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China: Contemporary Political, Economic, and International Affairs

Edited by David B. H. Denoon
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 245
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    China's dramatic transformation over the past fifteen years has drawn its share of attention and fear from the global community and world leaders. Far from the inward-looking days of the Cultural Revolution, modern China today is the world's fourth largest economy, with a net product larger than that of France and the United Kingdom. And China's dynamism is by no means limited to its economy: enrollments in secondary and higher education are rapidly expanding, and new means of communication are vastly increasing information available to the Chinese public. In two decades, the Chinese government has also transformed its foreign relations - Beijing is now consulted on virtually every key development within the region. However, the Communist Party of China still dominates all aspects of political life. The Politburo is still self-selecting, Beijing chooses province governors, censorship is widespread, and treatment of dissidents remains harsh. In China, leading experts provide an overview of the region, highlighting key issues as they developed in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Edited with an introduction by David B. H. Denoon, an authority on China, this volume of articles covers recent events and key issues in understanding this growing superpower. Organized into three thematic sections - foreign policy and national security, economic policy and social issues, and domestic politics and governance - the essays cover salient topics such as China's military power, de-communization, growing economic strength, nationalism, and the possibility for democracy. The volume also contains current maps as well as a Recent Chronology of Events which provides a decade's worth of information on the region, organized by year and by country.Contributors: Liu Binyan, David B.H. Denoon, Bruce J. Dickson, June Teufel Dreyer, Michael Dutton, Elizabeth Economy, Barry Eichengreen, Edward Friedman, Dru C. Gladney, Paul H. B. Godwin, Merle Goldman, Richard Madsen, Barry Naughton, Lucian W. Pye, Tony Saich, David Shambaugh, Robert Sutter, Michael D. Swaine, and Tyrene White.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8541-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction: Is China’s Transformation Sustainable?
    (pp. 1-14)

    China is the only large country in the world today where political leaders have systematically understated their economy’s growth rate. They do this because the scale and dynamism of China’s economy have already caused apprehension among neighbors and trading partners.

    In 2005, the understated numbers became too glaring to ignore; Beijing’s Central Statistical Office revised its gross domestic product (GDP) estimates for 2004, adding $280 billion to previous figures.¹ This “omission” was an amount roughly equal to the entire current GDP of India. The new figures ranked China as the world’s fourth largest economy, with a net product larger than...

  4. Part I: Foreign Policy and National Security

    • 1. The People’s Army: Serving Whose Interests? September 1994
      (pp. 17-26)

      Acurious dichotomy has emerged between how the outside world views the Chinese military and how the People’s Liberation Army is seen at home. Other countries have become concerned with the possibility of aggression by an increasingly militarily capable China as well as the effects of Beijing’s arms sales on the global balance of power. At the same time, the leadership in China is becoming more concerned about the armed forces’ loyalty, and worries that the military’s growing business empire may affect its combat capabilities. Although evidence can be marshaled for both sides’ contentions, the interaction between the military’s foreign and...

    • 2. Uncertainty, Insecurity, and China’s Military Power September 1997
      (pp. 27-38)

      When Deng Xiaoping came to power in 1978, he inherited a defense establishment that was little more than a lumbering giant. In the 20 years following the Sino-Soviet split of 1959–1960 and Moscow’s termination of military assistance, China’s military power had eroded into obsolescence. The country’s defense industrial base was incapable of producing anything more than copies of Soviet designs from the 1950s, and the defense research and development (R&D) infrastructure was equally backward. Even the nuclear weapons program, developed at great cost and to the neglect of conventional weaponry, had produced only crude strategic systems, including a single...

    • 3. Does China Have a Grand Strategy? September 2000
      (pp. 39-50)

      Concern has arisen in the West and among many Asian nations over the implications of China’s steadily growing economic and military prowess. Much of this concern focuses on measuring and interpreting upward changes in the “objective” determinates of national power, such as the capabilities of China’s military and the size and rate of growth of China’s GDP. Although extremely important, these estimates convey little meaning unless they are placed in a larger context that describes how China’s leaders employ the attributes of national power and to what ends. In short, any accurate assessment of the ultimate significance of China’s growing...

    • 4. Sino-American Relations since September 11: Can the New Stability Last? September 2002
      (pp. 51-63)

      A year after the devastating terrorist attacks on the United States, Sino-American relations are their most stable since they began their decade-long deterioration and constant fluctuation following the events of June 1989. The prospects for continued stability are positive as long as neither nation infringes on the core security interests of the other. Some would dispute this assessment, including many analysts in China, since they see limited benefits from post–September 11 Sino-American cooperation and continuing underlying tensions and frictions in the relationship.¹ Of course, problems do exist and, given the fluctuant history of Sino-American relations, it would be a...

    • 5. Asia in the Balance: America and China’s “Peaceful Rise” September 2004
      (pp. 64-74)

      Backed by a dynamic economy and strengthened military power, China has developed an increasingly moderate and flexible approach to its Asian neighbors over the past decade. The result has been a remarkable expansion of influence in the region. Senior Chinese leaders have kept busy schedules, meeting with Asian counterparts from small as well as large countries. China has launched a wide array of economic, political, security, and cultural initiatives designed to foster closer bilateral and multilateral arrangements. Beijing has even shown flexibility on some territorial issues that in the past prompted rigid and assertive postures.

      The impact of these efforts...

  5. Part II: Economic Policy and Social Issues

    • 6. The Long March from Mao: China’s De-Communization September 1993
      (pp. 77-84)

      Since 1989, Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union have collapsed one by one, leaving only China with an apparently flourishing Communist government. China’s Communists have not only managed to remain in power, but have even introduced rapid economic growth while maintaining relative social stability during the last few years. How has this been possible? And what is the future of the party, and the China that it rules?

      The Chinese Communists (and their Vietnamese counterparts as well) are unique among the world’s governing Communist parties in that they came to power only after more than 20 years...

    • 7. China’s North-South Split and the Forces of Disintegration September 1993
      (pp. 85-95)

      In the 1970s, when the Soviet Union considered Communist China both a major adversary and a dangerous competitor, Victor Louis, understood to be a Soviet intelligence operative, publishedThe Coming Decline of the Chinese Empire, a tract prophesying the disintegration of China as a result of “the national aspirations of the Manchu, Mongols, Uighurs, Tibetans, and other non-Chinese peoples….” Today China’s media portray anyone who raises the topic of a possible breakup of China as an enemy and saboteur—like Victor Louis, an agent of black propaganda.

      On the surface, it does seem that the non-Chinese peoples inside the People’s...

    • 8. The Dangers of Economic Complacency September 1996
      (pp. 96-105)

      In the past several years the Chinese economy has undergone dramatic growth and structural change. In 1995, for the fourth consecutive year, real gross domestic product grew more than 10 percent, and growth will remain near that mark this year as well. Sometime in 1997, China will reach an important statistical milestone when the proportion of the total labor force engaged in agriculture will slip below 50 percent for the first time, symbolizing the end of China’s long history as a predominantly agrarian country. Foreign investment has continued to pour into China; after receiving $28 billion in 1993 and $34...

    • 9. Rumblings from the Uyghur September 1997
      (pp. 106-113)

      Three years ago the first rumblings of discontent in northwestern China could be heard in the voices of ethnic and religious separatists in the bazaars of Kashgar and Turfan. Today bombs detonating throughout the region as well as in Beijing have begun to drown out these voices.

      On February 25, a bombing in the northwestern border city of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, left nine people dead. Bombs exploded on two Beijing buses on March 7, killing two people; on May 13 another bomb exploded in a city park in Beijing, killing one person. These bombings,...

    • 10. Beijing’s Ambivalent Reformers September 2004
      (pp. 114-126)

      China’s leaders have been exceedingly cautious about embarking on extensive political reforms, and not without good reason. There is no guarantee that reform efforts will succeed, or that China will be better or more easily governed as a consequence of reform. There is certainly no guarantee that the Chinese Communist Party will survive as the ruling party if it initiates fundamental reform of the political system.

      The leadership is acutely aware that even good intentions can have disastrous consequences: when Soviet Communist Party leader Mikhail Gorbachev launched his reforms in the Soviet Union, he did not envision the collapse and...

    • 11. China’s New Exchange Rate Regime September 2005
      (pp. 127-134)

      On July 21, 2005, China unexpectedly revalued its currency, the renminbi, raising its value by 2.1 percent against the US dollar. At the same time, it altered the fluctuation band that limits the daily movement of the exchange rate to 0.3 percent by redefining it in terms of a basket of foreign currencies rather than simply the dollar. And it announced that henceforth the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, would allow the exchange rate to be more heavily influenced by market conditions.

      These decisions came at the end of two years of intense foreign criticism of the country’s...

  6. Part III: Domestic Politics and Governance

    • 12. Is Democracy Possible? September 1995
      (pp. 137-146)

      Despite the June 4, 1989, crackdown on the Tiananmen demonstrators, China can no longer be described as a strictly authoritarian or totalitarian country. One political scientist, Kenneth Lieberthal, calls China’s government a “fragmented authoritarianism.” Another, Harry Harding, terms it “consultative authoritarianism.”

      There is no question that the reforms carried out from 1978 to 1989 by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and his disciples Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang moderated the harsh authoritarianism of the Maoist era. Now, after several decades of authoritarian rule, rapid growth rates, and a semimarket economy, many intellectuals, reform officials, Western governments, and businesspeople believe that China...

    • 13. The Leader in the Shadows: A View of Deng Xiaoping September 1996
      (pp. 147-161)

      Perhaps never in human history has an established society gone through such a total transformation—without a war, violent revolution, or economic collapse—as did China with the ending of Mao Zedong’s reign and the emergence of Deng Xiaoping as paramount ruler. The leitmotiv of Mao’s China was orthodoxy, conformity, and isolation; a whole people walking in lockstep, seemingly with only one voice, repeating one mindless slogan after another. All Chinese appeared to be united in a state of egalitarian autarky. To have read one newspaper was to have read them all; to have heard one official’s briefing was to...

    • 14. Village Elections: Democracy from the Bottom Up? September 1998
      (pp. 162-171)

      During President Bill Clinton’s state visit to China in late June, his itinerary included a trip to a village outside Beijing whose leaders were elected by popular vote. For both the Chinese and the Americans planning the president’s trip, the village stop was potentially very useful. China could use the visit to highlight its progress in promoting and implementing grassroots democracy, and to suggest the possibility of an expanded agenda of political reform. President Jiang Zemin could also use this public event to silence domestic critics of the grassroots initiative and possibly build momentum for further reforms.

      The United States...

    • 15. An All-Consuming Nationalism September 1999
      (pp. 172-181)

      When tens of thousands of students took to the Beijing streets this May to protest the American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia, Western journalists expressed consternation. After years of waiting for the return of student protests and the reawakening of the democratic desires of June 1989, the events of May 1999 came as something of a shock. Here was an undeniably popular protest movement that did not chant the familiar demands for democracy and human rights the West wholeheartedly endorsed. If anything, the message of this crowd was radically at odds...

    • 16. Understanding Falun Gong September 2000
      (pp. 182-191)

      The basic facts about the Falun Gong affair in China are generally known among the American reading public: On April 25, 1999, approximately 10,000 members of this movement staged a peaceful protest in front of the Chinese government’s leadership compound in Beijing. The government responded on July 22 by outlawing the movement, charging that it was an “evil cult.” A massive vilification campaign ensued that led to the arrests of many Falun Gong members.

      In the spring of 2000, several dozen top leaders, including an air force general and a judge, were publicly sentenced to long prison terms. (Li Hongzhi,...

    • 17. China’s New Leadership: The Challenges to the Politics of Muddling Through September 2002
      (pp. 192-203)

      The sixteenth party congress that is to be held this fall should be remarkable in a number of ways. Most important, if Vice President Hu Jintao becomes the new general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, it will mark the first time that the leadership of the party has changed hands relatively peacefully. Leadership transition, always extremely contested, usually has followed some major policy failure and has been accompanied by factional infighting. Even Deng Xiaoping lost his first two choices as general secretary (Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang) to party intrigue before he settled on the third, Jiang Zemin. Given...

    • 18. China’s Environmental Challenge September 2005
      (pp. 204-216)

      In late July 2001, the fertile Huai River Valley—China’s breadbasket—was the site of an environmental disaster. Heavy rains flooded the river’s tributaries, flushing more than 38 billion gallons of highly polluted water into the Huai. Downstream, in Anhui province, the river water was thick with garbage, yellow foam, and dead fish. Although the authorities quickly proclaimed the situation under control, the incident represented a stunning failure for China’s leadership. Only seven months earlier, the government had proclaimed its success in cleaning up the Huai. A sixyear campaign to rid the region of polluting factories that dumped their wastewater...

  7. Chronology of Recent Events
    (pp. 217-242)
  8. About the Contributors
    (pp. 243-246)