China of the 1950s and China now, are miles apart. The days of communism has gone, when the country toiled in abject poverty, striking at people who even thought of living a democratic life. People were forced to wear uniforms to work and only a handful of Chinese had cars. The streets of Beijing were filled with people cycling to work. Today, China is among the few countries that can challenge the economically sound west. All this began toward the end of the 1950s when the communists found that the country was going nowhere by isolating itself from the rest of the world. It does come as a surprise that the communists, who trusted no one, suddenly sought foreign help to develop their nation. I am not very sure why or how this change came about, but yes, I do know that there was a change of guard at the top of the political system and the new, young leaders of China must have thought that change was imminent.
I may not be an astute politician or an economist, but I do have my apprehensions of China becoming an economically sound superpower. There are many reasons for this; the Chinese continue to be ruled by communists and there is no telling when a change at the top of the hierarchy can shift their position from being an emerging liberal global economic partner to becoming a dictatorial economic superpower. Their business ethics is far from comforting, which can be seen by their business relationship with Australia. Australia’s relationship with China underlines the way the Chinese do business. There are few countries in the world that have benefited more from China’s rapid economic growth than Australia. “Australia is one nation that benefited immensely during the recession of 2008, as the surge for Australian products, more importantly raw materials, sustained the Australian economy” (Schuman, 2011). This is big news to me, because I didn’t know that China had such a warm business relationship with Australia. However, I am a pessimist and would like to believe like most Australians that this relationship could play into the hands of the Chinese.
The biggest worry would be that China could at some point use its economic leverage to put political pressure on Australia, or employ its growing economic power to become a strategic threat. As Hugh White, head of the Strategic & Defense Studies Centre at the Australian National University was spot on when he said that, “As China keeps growing strong enough to fulfill Australians’ economic aspirations, it grows more powerful and undermines U.S. primacy and our strategic aspirations. People are conscious that with the benefits we get from Chinese growth, there is a certain degree of vulnerability” (Schuman, 2011). This is a cause for worry as Australia is a strategic partner of the U.S in its foreign policies and affairs and a tilt towards China could cause Australians a lot of embarrassment and economic turmoil.
Should this be seen as a precedent for things to come, there is no telling what China’s futuristic ambitions are. Most of the world is reeling under recession and Europe is being bailed out economically by China. While China’s economic progress promises a lot to its strategic business partners, “China’s competing economic model; state capitalism, challenges the economic ideology of the West” (Schuman, 2011). China’s political ideology is in contrast to the Western ideals of democracy and human rights. I dread to see a world made up of state capitalism. China is a nuclear state and its military has grown leaps and bounds to be among the most powerful in the world. They have learned the art of developing technology and can now manufacture their own airplanes and ships. They have also followed the U.S and Russia in sending manned spacecrafts into space. They continue to back North Korea and bully their immediate neighbors. Considering these, I believe I have a right to feel apprehensive about China’s economic growth and business strategies, globally.