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Summary - Understanding contemporary China
In 1992, Deng Xiaoping gave a speech in which he said: 'It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, so lang as it can catch mice'. What did this signal?That the economic reforms which had before been limited to special zones along China's coast would now be allowed throughout China; modern buildings, highways and shopping centres were created, but the contrast between cities and rural villages became stark.
In 2002 the contrast between cities and rural villages had decreased. What was the main reason for this?The reforms expanded to every corner of the nation. Because of the road improvement program, the peasants which were once isolated could get access to modern urban commerce.
China is developing fast, some wonder if it is happening too fast. Name three downsides of the developments.For example:
- Decline of traditional culture and family and community life
- Safety concerns (after the crash of two bullet trains)
Nowadays, China has the world's fastest-growing economy, a fifth of the world's population and escalating trade and travel through its borders.
China still regards the more than 65 million Chinese living overseas as part of China. The richest of these families often invest a lot of money directly or indirectly in China and the Pacific Rim, including the coast of North America. This links China to the Americas, Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.
What is the main reason that China (a communist country) can immerse in free markets the way it does?Many Chinese people are living overseas and China's prosperity has depended upon the investment of overseas Chinese; their prosperity in turn depends on China's prosperity. This interdependency explain why China can immerse in the free markets; those markets are embedded in the social structure of the widely dispersed Chinese community.
About the Chinese language:
- It has no alphabet
- It is thousands of years old
- The written language consists of single characters that represent entire words
Development of the Chinese language:People had to memorize the individual characters; only educated scholar-officials and families of merchants in cities were in the position to devote time to memorize the characters and create them.
After the communists came to power, 2200 simplified characters were created which were taught to schoolchildren and used in newspapers to reduce illiteracy.
In the 19th century Westeners arrived and the Chinese words had to be transliterated into their Roman alphabet. The Wade-Giles system was devised to do just that.
In the 1930s a new system was developed: pinyin, which came closer to replicating the sounds of the words as they are pronounced in the Mandarin Chinese used around Beijing. This sytem is now widely used.
Chinese words often usually have only one or two syllables. when there are two, they are given equal emphasis in pronounciation.
Chinese give their family name first and then their personal name.
1.1 Creative Tensions
Which tensions does Understanding Contemporary China highlight?
- Confucianism and both petty and modern capitalism
- Confucianism, Christianity and communism
- Popular culture and formal traditions
- Regions and the capital city
- Cities and the rural hinterland
- The heartland and its global outreach
China is slightly bigger than the US but has more than four times the number of people. The east is populous but the western provinces are among the world's least inhabited. China first became a unified nation 200 years B.C., when the north conquered the South.
Around the time of Christ, the feudal states were abandoned and both petty capitalist trade among family-run enterprises (often associated with the south) and Confucian ethic started. Since Confucian ethic emphasizes family loyalty and hard work as well as interfering government bureaucracy and unquestioned loyalty to northern-based leaders, it both benefits and interferes with capitalism.
What helped the Chinese people cultivate their inner personal lives while conforming to the rigid social conventions associated with Confucianism and family enterprises?Daoism, Buddhism and popular forms of entertainment.
By the late 18th century foreigners brought Christianity and Western ideas about freedom and progress with them, which competed with China's established religious tradtions. The Western ideologies developed some Confucian traits as they adapted to China.
How is it possible that China can contribute to global capitalism without being absorbed by it?It has a disciplined social core. People who have migrated to Chinese cities or even to the other end of the earth, are welcome to return to their home regions, keeping rural social bonds and safety nets alive. Even when divided by ideology, politics or distance, families and clans deriving from the same villages have habits of cooperation to further enterprises by sharing capital, labor, markets and special connections.
What should China do if it wants to continue to grow at the same rate?It must find new ways to adapt to global capitalism by:
- Increasing the technical skills of the workforce
- Raising wages to expand domestic consumption
- Increasing efficiency
- Reducing corruption
- Enforcing business contracts
- Cooperating with other nations on efforts to reduce worldwide economic and political instability.
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