Is China a Developed Nation?
It was foretold that in twenty five years China will lead in the world economy. Today it ranks fourth in the world market and may even overcome Germany who is on the third position. With the continues robust growth rate of the Chinese economy expanding to 11.9% and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing by 10.8% in 2008 according to the IMF.
What about the uneven development in some region, will this affect the future of China? How is the present growing economy of this nation influenced by its current politics?
Literature Review (Political Economy Emmit Evans pp. 47-227)
Emmit Evans in his book on Political Economy mentioned that what we are leading to has been initiated 500 years ago. Today the world is experiencing the patterns of globalization as it approached the limits of social and environmental sustainability. To explain further Evans first emphasized on the political economy which influence the stages of development.
Politics dictates who, where, what and how to get what people needs, it is an authority to dictates one’s behavior. The development we experienced today began through stages of the global political economy which was propelled by rich countries, the monarch in earlier times which provided the system of mercantilism (Evans p. 49). Development came from Colonialism to Neo-Colonialism and these stages brought about capitalism which has the capacity to control both financial and industrial wealth.
In page 52 Evans made a review that development are influence by sets of political values; one is the conservative and next is the liberal and radical ideologies. A conservative ideology believes that personal interests must be pursued without constraint and the notion of equality depends on the human personal efforts (Emmit B. Evans). Second, liberal values looks for peaceful and orderly solutions while radical values believes that in order to achieve power it is necessary to overthrow an old regime. However, both liberal and radical values believe in the equality of man (Evans, p.54).
The efforts of development are divided into several units during the World War II, most remained under colonial colony, while China and other socialist republic developed a communal ownership but was formed also by an elite group.
Define what development is?
Development is growth; economically it is measured by the increase of the GDP or the buying power of the entire population. It could also mean a transition or a reformed government system that is enhanced by effective leadership. Development means an increase in the well being of its entire population with regards to health and education and the increase of its citizen’s personal and domestic wealth. And for this development to be reinforced a socio political authority should be maintained for its equal distribution of wealth.
Patrick Bond defines uneven development as, “unequal exchange and forms of core-periphery dominance (Bond, 1999).” The definition relates to two things, that is politics and economics which is inseparable. Politics has power to tell who get the share and how ones get it and when, while economics manages its production and distribution of wealth (Evans). Today we termed this phenomenon as the Global Political Economy because these two are intertwined, “it gives freedom to the economic elites to maximize profit (Evans).”
In many developed countries like the western side, which have dominated the world for the past five hundred year’s issues on poverty within the inner cities, discrimination, and capitalism has been the continuous concern of those government. On the other hand, in those developed nation sprouted the ideology of what we call today as globalization. This globalization leads to uneven development because not everyone can be reached by technology that is brought by it. If wealth is not adequately distributed it leads to uneven development.
Globalization controls centralized political and economic structures and in this case it is capitalism. With this scenario, a capitalist is able to pursue his interest without being burdened by any social environs or governance. They have the power to overload their self interest at the expense of others in which the rich becomes richer and the poor lives in absolute poverty.
Developed nation have institutionalized business conglomerates which influence even cultures of the modern times. These big industries control every food establishments, technology and even other basic services. It has created a free market system thru IMF, GATT and the UN which in the book of Evans are the three pillars of globalization.
In many developing regions, to increase its Gross National Product (GNP) authorities neglects the basic essentials such as food, housing, education, and health benefits of its citizens. These made the living conditions of poor people in the third world comprises mostly the poor Asian and some African nations, making life unbearable despite on the face of modernization and innovative technology. Huge disparity of the working poor versus the leisure class explains the reason why in spite of the sufficient supply of food, nine million children die of starvation every year because of starvation (Evans).
It is very alarming that some of this third world will be falling behind to the so called fourth world if worldwide recession continues to prevail due to unequal distribution of wealth. The rapid change in the global political economy has transformed the futures of the other world into degradation of the human race.
The growing world population seems not to have a place to lay its head in the coming new generation. There are likely more and more people around the world with low income jobs while commodities are getting more and more expensive. Economic crisis is being felt worldwide. But despite of the trend, China is heading towards global competitiveness.
Is China a developed Country?
There is a worldwide recession, and China is coping with its development through its steady growth.
Even before the colonial times, the Chinese traded across its boundaries with its porcelain wares and many goods. During those times the West came to Asia to mine gold and conquer. However, because of the old reform China remains closed to the world until the great wall opens its door.
It is a vast land and its total population is enough to encircle the world. The World Census said that there are four Chinese nationals in every ten people of the globe.
India despite its great populace, leave some of its people under absolute poverty while ranking fifth in the world economy. Other nations, constantly threatened by war and calamity also suffers the same consequence that of India.
Four years ago China faces up to a challenge of non-performing bank loans and undervalued currency of about 40% due to an internal political pressure to appreciate its currency (Shane, 2004). A fixed rate of 8.28 Yuan for a U.S. dollar at that time reduced its competiveness to rapid growth. However, recent conversion or exchange rate as of 15 February 2008 is on 7.18 Yuan to a dollar. This is a significant sign, a thermometer showing that the economy is really going on an upward scale.
China’s urban residents and rural residents economic standard is only about more than one percent of disparity. The influence of a centralized government provided control which facilitated the channels of change for example: from a collective farming to individual farming which was under the “Household Responsibility System” (HRS) (RDI, 2007).
There have been problems on land reallocation during the early part of the transition but this issue did not stop the government in finding ways to solve the problem. Field works and constant dialogs with the 210 million farmer families which are about one third of the world farmers’ population resulted in to detailed explanations of the “Land Tenure Rights”. Advocacy of those in authority remedied conflicts and resulted to better policy making. However, the current program has only completed its turn over within the 50% of its farmers and production has barely begun (RDI, 2007). While the program is still in its completion, it has already given rise in total production and has proven that the policy motivated the farmers to increase their yield.
Transition reforms in the past succeeded. Future GDP growth assures continued economic rise. The steady growth captured the west and responses ranges to both positive and negative comments. Some fears the future strong China due to reasons of other countries unable to match china price in commodities and other goods. Other says that it is coming too soon and could be threatening.
Though China has yet to address many reforms before it emerge its industries into a world class brand, it’s strong economy gives unrest to the other world. China’s consistency in catching up makes it clear that the country will make it in the year 2025 which is only about seventeen years from now. China’s growth has been similar to other developing nation like Japan and Korea since the new millennium began.
Also, the quantity and quality of labor available today is sufficient to maintain production, demographically in every one genius in America there are four in China (Holz, 2005). And these are hard evidence that the growth cannot be reversed in the next coming years. Twenty years from now, Chinese will enjoy the living condition that rich Americans enjoyed today.
Chinese leaders have adopted a socio-political reform that is compatible to those in power and at the same time created policy measures that provides incentives and healthy competition among the people. Though the Chinese transition is still incomplete, meaning they are just coming up to be a developed nation, the positive signs that show the improvement of a Chinese lifestyle mean that they are on the right track.
To answer the question whether China is a developed nation still depends on many factors with regards to its transitions mentioned above. Thought they ranked fourth in the global economy, politically there are still reforms that has not taken place. As discussed earlier, two things should work together for a better world and that is the blending of politics and wealth. This two should be able to reach the summit pulling together the cart in one direction.
At present, China can be considered a fast growing economy within a reformation. Thought quality of life has improved, it is still too early to detect whether they are already a developed nation. For the reason that development means equal distribution of wealth, the right or freedom to private ownership and other polity that will enhance the life of the Chinese. Development can not be viewed in general but as a whole whether each and everyone has access to live life in accordance with human dignity.
What would be next?
The growth of the Chinese economy has been sustained for the past years and remained to move upward. Demographically and geographically they have an edge to succeed. However, there is still one thing to consider aside from wealth and economics, and power or authority of a certain nation. China’s reformation should also be reviewed in the context of its social consciousness because history has proven that a civilization that degenerates morally falls. There has been so many civilization of the past that has been ruined.
Economic theories may be a dip stick to measure economic growth but looking at the world as a whole, its eminent decline on the immediate environment due to eco-system should not be neglected. Globally all mankind are on the same boat. What you take from the rest can become a doze of your own medicine.
We could conclude therefore that even though industrialization can bring environmental concerns for China its steady and similar growth within the rural and urban areas clearly defines that the dragon is now a fast developing nation. But to say that China is already a developed nation, someone has to be convinced that he or she lives in a well developed environment that is when power, wealth, and technology grows in the same scale of moral values. A nation can be considered well developed when every citizen of a country is given equal treatment and the proper means to obtain their self sufficiency is obtained without threatening even the least or the weakest members of its society and other neighboring countries.
Development in the strict sense means a nation that struggles to maintain a living condition that is not only wealthy, comfortable, and safe. It is a nation that respects and value human life and other life forms to the highest degree.
Bond, P. (1999). What is “uneven development”? [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 15 February 2008, from http://www.marxmail.org/faq/uneven_development.htm
Emmit B. Evans, J. Political Economy. pp 47 – 227.
Holz, C. A. (2005). China’s Economic Growth 1978-2025:What We Know Today about China’s Economic Growth Tomorrow [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 15 February 2008, from http://ihome.ust.hk/~socholz/Growth/Holz-China-Growth-2Nov05-web.pdf
RDI. (2007). Securing Land Rights for the World Poorest. Retrieved 16 February 2008, from http://www.rdiland.org/OURWORK/OurWork_China.html
Shane, M. (2004). China’s Economic Growth Faces Challenges [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 16 February 2008, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/February05/Findings/ChinaEconomicGrowth.htm