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Is China´s growth socially pathological?

Scientific Essay 2012 7 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Region: South Asia

Excerpt

H o w far would you describe Chinese growth (despite its stupendous success) as soc i a ll y patho l og i ca l ?

D ominique Lambe r t

China is considered to be the w orld´s factory 1 and new economic pow er.2 Its ascent from a dev eloping country to the w orld´s second biggest national economy w ithin the last thirty y ears is an impressiv e performance. The w orld´s fabric has for many y ears been know n as a cheap and effectiv e production place in the w estern hemisphere. On the flipside, its reputation suffers from reports about human rights v iolations3, ex ploitation of its w orkforce and the accusation of being a totalitarian sy stem. Amnesty International recently released their annual report for 2011, stating that "the C hinese gov ernment responded to a burgeoning civ il society by jailing and persecuting people for peacefully ex pressing their v iew s, holding religious beliefs not sanctioned by the state, adv ocating for democratic reform and human rights, and defending the rights of others."4 N ot only w ould this be a rights v iolation for itself, it also means serious problems for C hinese business5, critics argue. Amnesty International goes further, stating that " [an] estimated 500,000 people are currently enduring punitiv e detention w ithout charge or trial, and millions are unable to access the legal sy stem to seek redress for their griev ances. H arassment, surv eillance, house arrest, and imprisonment of human rights defenders are on the rise, and censorship of the Internet and other media has grow n. Repression of minority groups, including Tibetans, U ighurs and Mongolians, and of Falun Gong practitioners and C hristians w ho practice their religion outside state-sanctioned churches continues."6 H uman rights v iolations are indefensible. For that reason, it is good that organisations like amnesty international release reports ev ery y ear, to report human rights v iolations independently , to raise aw areness and to fortify political pressure.. Although being a huge and important issue, human rights v iolations are neither unique to C hina, nor to communist sy stems. Including Guantanamo Bay , torture, dubious interrogation methods, police v iolence and others, the U SA also hav e a huge track record of human rights v iolations.7

H ow ev er, due to the differences in the political and economic sy stem, C hina is blamed, not only for human rights abuses, but all the abov ementioned.

C hina´s policies seem to be in many w ay s far apart from w hat w estern societies consider being fair and just. The reason is that the Western hemisphere shares a fundamentally different belief sy stem of w hat "justice" and freedom" mean. This leads to the main question of this paper, if C hina´s grow th is "socially pathological". For answ ering that, w e w ill first compare C hina w ith "free market" democracies, in a second step prov ide some data representing indicators for C hina´s "social lev el" and in a third step talk about "w orkforce ex ploitation" and perpetrators of partially difficult circumstances.

Democracy w ith its features of free speech, no press censorship, free elections8, [...] tries to realise society ´s w elfare through the freedom of its society , regarding to be the best alternativ e to appropriately represent "w hat people w ant", being equally w orth w ith "w hat people need". Popular sov ereignty is the result of this thought, giv ing people the possibility to realise their ow n benefits. This fits together w ith the "Adam-Smith" ideology of free market policy , w here ev ery body fights on his ow n. The "hidden hand" guarantees, that this ego-centric v iew is precisely the w ay to guarantee society ´s biggest possible benefit. This sy stem became the greed of w estern societies and ex plains, w hy the role of the indiv idual is so important, both economically , and politically speaking.9 In a nutshell, this is the w estern ideology of how to max imise the w elfare of a society .

The C hinese communist sy stem doesn´t w ork that w ay . It [communism] is "upon common ow nership of the means of production, as w ell as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.10

Its self-doctrine is C onfucianism.11 One of the core v alues of C onfucianism is humanism, realised through altruism.12 Altruism reflects the idea that the main purpose of action is someone else´s w elfare, w hich is precisely the opposite of a self-seeking attitude, both intentionally 13 and result-oriented.14 This strengthens the community , enables trust tow ards each other and ex presses the closeness of human beings w ithin a society . The unity is more important than the indiv idual. This is ex actly the opposite of w hat Adam Smith stood for.

C onfucianism is a strictly hierarchical sy stem, describing the pow er relations w ithin families. The oldest male is considered to hav e the most ex perience and w isdom, hence the grandfather is the head of the family .15 He cares for the family and has to face crucial, sometimes hard decisions for the w elfare of the family . H e has the ov erv iew and know s "w hat is good" for them. This idea is then transferred to political relations, w here, simply put, the state gov ernment takes "the role of the grandfather". It has "the ov erv iew " and therefore know s "w hat is best" for its people. This is one foundation and partially ex planation of chinese policies, including the strict hierarchical, centralised sy stem. H ence, the tw o sy stems differ fundamentally , both from a political point of v iew (democracy v s. communism), as also from an economic perspectiv e (free market policy v s. a higher lev el of state interv ention).16 17 The ideological argument betw een democracy and communism is simply w hat brings most benefit to its people.18 Blaming the "C hinese sy stem" as being socially pathological seems natural w hen believ ing in the idea of democracy . If ideology is the benchmark and framew ork to determining w hat is "social", then C hina (and w hat it does) is likely considered to be "socially pathological", simply because it is not a democracy , by no means.

Yet, this statement is superficial. H istory of mankind has show n that w e fear and despite foreign things w e do not understand.19

It is not necessarily true that democracy is the best w ay to achiev e w elfare: India, as the w orld´s biggest democracy , has been

independent for around 65 y ears now . Still, betw een 37.2 % 20 and 41,6 % 21 of the population liv e below the pov erty line, the av erage life ex pectancy lies betw een 63 and 6622 and in terms of human dev elopment, w hich measures an av erage v alue of health, education and income, India places only rank 134 of 187.23 The political sy stem cannot be the only indicator for w elfare.

There is a huge set of data support regarding the question, how "social" C hina is. To get a reference v alue for more v alidity and relev ance, w e compare the data w ith other countries, the biggest democratic economies in the w orld. According to World Bank, the unemploy ment rate in the U S w ith 9.3 % 24 is tw ice as high as C hina, hav ing 4.3 % .25 26 The C hinese pov erty rate decreased from 10 % in 1999 to 2.8 % in 2004.27 H ow ev er, as there is no sufficient, more current data, it is estimated that C hina has now a pov erty rate from about 13.8 % , w hich is ev en higher than 1999.28 It is assumed that the C hinese gov ernment simply changed the definition of pov erty (World Bank standard: less than $1.25 a day ) line to influence the statistics. The same data base states that the pov erty rate in the U SA is still higher, w ith estimated 15.8 % .29 Yet, the U N ESC O institute for statistics assesses that one third of the C hinese population liv ed below the pov erty line in 2005.30 31 Pov erty is a crucial indicator, but apparently the data is too ambiguous to make a balanced statement on how ex actly it affects the population.

C hina puts 13 % of its total spending into education, w hereas the school life ex pectancy is measured at around 11.6 y ears,32 w hich is w ay less than in the U SA, w ith 16.6 y ears.33 C hina daily reports that the gov ernment plans to increase the education ex penditures to 4 % GDP in 2012.34 In comparison, Germany spent 4.5 % of total GDP on education in 2007, France 5,6 % in 2008 and Denmark 7.8 % in 2008.35 The literacy rate w ent from 66 % in 1982 to 94 % in 2009, w hich is an improv ement of almost 50 % .36 The data suggests that C hina is making progress in improv ing the education sy stem.

H ealth is a v ery complex issue. Yet, the C IA World Fact book ascertained that C hina inv ests 4.6 % of GDP into the health sector,37 the USA 16.2 % .38 Only 29 % of C hinese people hav e health care at all,39 partly because of the lack of cov erage and access, partly because of the price, although it is still cheaper than U S health insurance40, w hereas 15.8 % don´t hav e it at all.41 The U SA´s corruption rate (7.1) is tw ice as high as in C hina, (3.5) according to Transparency International. 42 C hina also has more w omen in the parliament (21.3% ) than the U SA (16.8 % ).43

[...]


1 Zhang, Kev in. H., 2006. China as t he world factory. Google eBook [Online] 27 July. Available at: http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/China_as_the_world_factory.html?id=zuwYW87k1v4C&redir_esc=y . [Accessed on 25 February 2012].

2 Walker, Andrew , 2011. China´s new economic power fans fear, BBC pool finds. BBC. [Online] 28 March Available at: http://w ww.bbc.co.uk/news/business -12867892. [Accessed on 25 February 2012].

3 Amnesty International, 2010. China human rights. [Online] Available at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/asia-and-the- pacific/china. [Accessed on 25 February 2012].

4 Amnesty International, 2012. China. Annual Report 2011. [Online] Available at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/china/report-2011. [Accessed on 25 February 2012].

5 Amnesty International, 2011. D oing Business in C hina: T he Human R ights C hallenge. [Online] Available at: http://w ww.amnesty.ch/de/themen/wirtschaft-menschenrechte/doing-business-in-china. [Accessed on 03 March 2012].

6 Amnesty International, 2010. China human rights. [Online] Available at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work /countries/asia-and-the- pacific/china. [Accessed on 25 February 2012].

7 Xinhua, 2008. Full Text of Human Rights Record of U nited States in 2007. Chinadaily [Online] 13 March. Available at: http://w ww.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2008-03/13/content_6533800_3.htm. [Accessed on 25 February 2012].

8...w hich are at least the main features...officially

9 This ongoing process of individualization is one of the major w eaknesses of (free market) capitalism, according to Marx; he is describing th e "alienation" betw een "w hat I produce" and "why I produce" in his major work: D as Kapital.

10 Wikipedia. Communism [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism. [Accessed on 12 February 2012].

11 Although not the only one, as China has no official religion or philosophy. Taoism and Buddhism are also spread but Confucianism explains the chinese system by far the best and is most widely spread.

12 Leet, Peter; Lai, Pan-Chiu, 2002. Traditions of giving in Confucianism. Alliance Magazine [Online] 01 March. Available at: http://w ww.alliancemagazine.org/node/2583. [Accessed on 25 February 2012].

13 Actually it is a bit more tricky as I could also be willing to help just because reputation I w ant to increase my reputation, I w ant to get something back, which is the main idea of reciproque altruism.

14 Hence, in this case no philosophical difference between the tw o major ethics, deontology and utilitarianism

15 Patheos, 2011. Confusianism Overview. Patheos [Online] Available at: http://www.patheos.com/Library/Confucianism.html. [Accessed on 25 February 2012].For more details, it is recommended to read Confucius´ dialects

16 Roberts, Dex ter, 2011. C hina´s new protectionism. Bloomsberg Businessweek [Online] 27 October. Available at: http://w ww.businessweek.com/magazine/chinas-new -protectionism-10272011.html. [Accessed on 02 March 2012]. The Economist, 2011. And now, protectionism. The Economist [Online] 15 October. Av ailable at: http://www.economist.com/node/21532288. [Accessed on 02 March 2012].

17 Harris, Dan, 2011. There is no Protectionism in China. China Law Blog [Online] 12 November. Available at: http://w ww.chinalawblog.com/2011/11/there_is_no_protectionism_in_china.html. [Accessed on 01 March 2012]. (For further interest, this is an interesting blog on the question of w hether China´s economy is by any means "protectionistic)

18 This has been one of the major issues during the Cold War.

19 This may be one reason why we had, in the "ancient times" so many gods for phenomena we can´t explain, on the other hand, fear can be considered a natural reaction to increase awareness of what is going on.

20 The World Bank. India. [Online] Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/country/india. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

21 IFAD. Rural poverty in India. Rural Poverty Portal [Online] Available at: http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/web/guest/country/home/tags/india. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

22 World Health Organisation, 2012. India. [Online] Available at: http://www.who.int/countries/ind/en/. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

23 United Nations Dev elopment Programme. India Country Profile: Human Development Indicators. [Online] Available at: http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/IND.html. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

24 The World Bank. China. [Online] Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/country/china. [Accessed on 01 March 2012]. The World Bank. United States. [Online] Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states . [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

25 The World Bank. China. [Online] Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/country/china. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

26 This of course leads to the ongoing question, whether every possible "working force" is registered as such, or if some are excluded, for embellishing the data. All the mentioned numbers suffer from comparable problems. This is a general problem about data. There are only two w ay s to tackle this problem: getting own data (highly unlikely) or choose reliable sources. We decided the second one is more appropriate.

27 The World Bank. China. [Online] Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/country/china. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

28 Central Intelligence Agency . T he World Factbook. [Online] Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2046.html. [Accessed on 03 March 2012].

29 The Economist, 2011. Chinas poverty line. Life at the bottom of the m iddle k ingdom. The Economist [Online] 02 December. Av ailable at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2011/12/chinas-poverty -line. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

30 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011. China. [Online] Available at: http://stats.uis.unesco.org/unesco/TableViewer/document.aspx?ReportId=121&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=1560 . [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

31 Rural Surv ey Organization of National Bureau of Statistics, China, 2004. Poverty Statistics in C hina. [Online] September. Available at: http://w ww.nscb.gov.ph/poverty/conference/papers/4_poverty%20statistics%20in%20china.pdf. [Accessed on 03 March 2012]. (For further measurements of poverty in China)

32 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011. China. [Online] Available at: http://stats.uis.unesco.org/unesco/TableViewer/document.aspx?ReportId=121&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=1560 . [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

33 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011. China. [Online] Available at: http://stats.uis.unesco.org/unesco/TableViewer/document.aspx?ReportId=121&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=1560 . [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

34 Jia, Chen, 2010. Government t o increase spending on education. Chinadaily [Online] 01 March. Available at: http://w ww.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-03/01/content_9515384.htm . [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

35 The World Bank. Public Spending on Education. [Online] Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.XPD.TOTL.GD.ZS. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

36 The World Bank. China. [Online] Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/country/china. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

37 Central Intelligence Agency . T he World Factbook. [Online] Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2046.html. [Accessed on 03 March 2012].

38 Central Intelligence Agency . T he World Factbook. [Online] Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2046.html. [Accessed on 03 March 2012].

39 Blumenthal, Dav id, 2005. Privatization and It s D iscontents — The Evolving C hinese Health Care System. The New England Journal of Medicine. [Online] 15 September. Available at: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMhpr051133. [Accessed on 01 March 2012].

40 Blumenthal, Dav id, 2005. Privatization and It s D iscontents — The Evolving C hinese Health Care System. The New England Journal of Medicine. [Online] 15 September. Available at: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMhpr051133. [Accessed on 01 March 2012]. (Very good summary of the history of the chinese health insurance system.)

41 HealthPac, 2012. H ealth Care Statistics in the United States. [Online] Available at: http://w ww.healthpaconline.net/health-care-statistics-in-the-united-states.htm [Accessed on 01 March 2012]. (Here y ou can find further information about the US health sy stem.)

42 Transparency International, 2012. Corruption Perception Index 2010 Results. [Online] Available at: http://w ww.transparency .org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results . [Accessed on 21 February 2012].

43 Inter-Parliamentary -Union, 2011. Women in national parliaments. [Online] 31 December. Available at: http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm. [Accessed on 21 February 2012].

Details

Pages
7
Year
2012
ISBN (eBook)
9783656973218
ISBN (Book)
9783656973225
File size
521 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v300787
Grade
Tags
china´s

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Title: Is China´s growth socially pathological?