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"China's economic liberalisation is leading to the emergence of new socio-political interests and will therefore result in democratisation." Discuss

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Introduction

"China's economic liberalisation is leading to the emergence of new socio-political interests and will therefore result in democratisation." Discuss To understand why we have seen the emergence of social and political interests in China, I intend to briefly describe how the reform period changed work practices and institutions in nearly all industries throughout China. Next I will relate these changes to the rise in the number of politically active groups, businesses, and people. Finally I will discuss how these groups will change China and suggest some ideas as to what we may see in the future. The main engine behind the reforms in China since 1978 has been Deng Xiaoping. Deng believed the only solution to the problems that China faced in the late 1970's was to liberalise the economy. This was a means rather than an end though. He noticed the way China's neighbouring countries had benefited from allowing inward investment specifically and foreign trade in general. In the early 1980's, all the top politicians in China were required to read "The third wave" (Toffler), which set out a theory whereby developing countries could miss out industrialisation and move straight to the technological revolution and catch up with developed countries. ...read more.

Middle

Little has been said yet of the new middle class. That is because it draws from both urban and rural areas and is divided itself. The first people to take advantage of a more relaxed government line on production quotas in rural areas started to find themselves being able to sell grain to the government at the increased price as mentioned, but also surplus grain or other produce could be sold without much restriction on the local free market (which was sometimes an even higher price). Small villages began trading each others surpluses and the people making money became up to 5.9% richer than those who were not (according to an investigation by China Quarterly). In the city some of the people who lost their jobs or who had long been waiting for some freedom to do what they wanted began polishing shoes at the street corner or selling newspapers. Of these people, G. Barme and L. Jaivin said 'Perhaps a new force is gathering, an energy that can be directed towards social change. We must not underestimate them'. But these 'owner-operators' are not the only category that should be included in this new force. ...read more.

Conclusion

The same article however points out that there are a lot of politician 'wannabees' in China. It gives the example of a Beijing province in 1981, where 10,000 candidates were nominated for 316 seats. This would seem to contradict White's argument that Chinese people would not have time to vote. The general trend is one of diminishing totalitarianism - from Mao to Deng to Jiang - and this trend is likely to continue in 2002 when Jiang retires. There are a lot of people among the leaders that one would think do want to take the government towards a more open and accountable way of working that would perhaps eventually result in democracy. In addition to this there is an intense international pressure that cannot be ignored. China has been very accommodating in it's attempts to join the WTO, especially with their quick 'forgive and forget' of the bombing in Belgrade in April last year. Perhaps if the west continues to recommend democracy and help the CCP control over a smooth transition (which may include some financial help), then everyone can benefit from a strong, stable China in the future in the same way that they gain now from the U.S. ...read more.

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