The Great Big World and China

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The Great Big World and China

Since its inception, the Chinese people and leaders have referred to their homelands as the ‘Middle Kingdom.’ This name reflects the long-held belief that China is the center of the world. For thousands of years, Chinese foreign relations consisted of subjugating countries that were unable to stand up to the powerful Chinese military and walling themselves off from empires which threatened the control the various regimes had over the economic and cultural lives of the people of the Middle Kingdom. With the growing power of the Western nations, these solutions became less and less tenable. The Chinese empire found itself at the mercy of the British and saw its borders forced open and its peoples exposed to a new level of cultural exchange. This systematic opening of China began a change in Chinese politics which lead China to become more invested in the world outside the ‘Middle Kingdom.’ The change in Chinese thoughts on interdependence of the country on other countries and institutions culminated in the opening of China to the outside world in the 1970s by Deng Xiaoping. This decision marks one of the first times that China embraced the changes and new challenges brought on by opening itself to the world. Since then, China has expanded its economy, changed the way its largely centralized government functions and has become a force to be reckoned with in the international realm. The newfound openness of China, combined with the effects of globalization has lead to a myriad of new issues for China’s leadership and people. This paper aims to evaluate the effects of globalization on the Chinese government and reform efforts, and the evolving international relationships that China is fostering.

The most obvious and farthest reaching effects of globalization can be seen in the shift of the government’s priorities away from lofty ideological principles and toward sustained economic growth. This shift can be seen during the reforms of the late 1970s, where the Communist Party promoted ‘twin pillars’ of economic growth and nationalism. (Economy, 9) The groundwork for a global China starts to emerge when, as a result of loosening of economic trading restrictions, the country and government begins to see the economic benefits of joining an interconnected economy. The economic stability granted by globalizing economies is so important that, during the ‘southern tour’ of 1992, Deng Xiaoping wrote, “guidelines that his successors have followed ever since of requiring further openness and economic reform as a necessary condition for maintaining high levels of economic growth.” (Yahuda) The opening of China and the resulting economic growth was seen as instrumental in the continued survival of the Communist party. It would follow that it is in the interest of the party to increasingly utilize any system or phenomena that has shown to be inductive for economic growth. When looking at the systems available to China it becomes clear that their “interests would seem to be most congruent with the existing international order” and that Chinese economic interests are best served by an increasing integration with the existing economic order. (Ikenberry, 106-107) Integration into the existing order was undertaken by entering into agreements with foreign countries and non-state actors. Entering these institutions and markets was only accomplished through major reforms and revisions made to Chinese governmental institutions and the need for a ‘stable international environment’ created a significant change to Chinese foreign policy. (Harris, 24) These ideas concerning the economic growth of China seem to be correct, evidenced by the increased participation by China with international actors and increasing interdependence manifested in China’s trading habits. By opening the international trading and funding restrictions on Chinese businesses, the country has become one of the “largest recipients of foreign direct...
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