China's Revolution and Future
China Revolution and International System. In the year 1949, People’s Republic of China was found. Since this time to the start of economic reforms that took place in the late 1970s, the foreign relation of China mainly focused on the socialist bloc and the third world. Political disaffection marked the relationship of China with some western countries and the conventional international system dominated by those countries (Schaller, 2002). China joined the mainstream international system in the reform era. The integration of China with international economy played a key role in making its foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade more liberal. In early 1980s, China became a member of major international economic organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF. In mid 1980s, China initiated negotiations on membership in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
In addition to China’s endeavor to reconnect with international economic systems, the open policy of China enabled the country to rejoin the wider international community. Despite the integration of China with the global economy and community, its perception on the nature of the international order as well as its place therein has consistently changed. In 1950s, Chinese viewed the world as divided into two camps; that is, the capitalist and socialist camps. As a result, China supported socialist camp which was led by the Soviet Union. From early 1960s to the end of 1970s, the China’s view of the World was mainly directed by “Mao Zedong’s theory of three world”. According to this theory, the First World comprised the two superpowers, the Second World comprised of other developed countries and the Third World represented the developing countries. China viewed itself as part and leader of the Third World (Schaller, 2002). As a result, since the late 1940s to the end of 1970s, China stayed out of the mainstream international system that was dominated by western countries. During the Maoist regime, China perceived itself as a bastion of global revolution and a victim of imperialism. During that period, the government of China endeavored to challenge the international order that was already in existence through its example of defiance and supporting revolutionary forces that existed in other countries.
However, with the beginning of reforms, the Chinese view with regard to international order started to change. Reformers in China ceased to consider international system at that time as a goal for revolution. Instead, Chinese reformers perceived the existing international system as opportunities in which it should take part. In this regard, China redefined itself rapidly from a dedicated revolutionary power to destroying the existing international system. China discarded its own radical system-transforming approach and it accepted a system-reforming approach and later adopted a system-maintaining approach (Schaller, 2002).
In 1980s, China increased its interaction consistently with international system particularly in the economic realm. However, it remained doubtful towards the emerging international norms especially in the economic area. As China tried to expand its FDI and exports in the existing international economic systems, it advocated for a New International economic order, which had been set forth in 1974 by the Group of 77 with increasing demands for a more just and equitable distribution of resources and wealth across the globe.
From 1990s, China has embraced the international order fully. As a result, this attitude has been observed in major changes in the foreign policy of China. For instance, China ratified and signed the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, UN human rights covenant, and it has also become a de facto partner in the G-8. This initiative would have been difficult in the past since Chinese opposed the existing international system. These initiatives reveal the commitment of Chinese government in identifying the existing international system. However, some people perceive Chinese approach towards active participation in international regimes as its plan to minimize the security dilemma that might arise as a result of rising power of China (Schaller, 2002). In addition, some view these initiatives as a Chinese strategy to avoid the possibility of being a target of balancing by other nations across the globe. However, there has been a consensus in the circles of Chinese policy that in the globalization age, China has no option, other than integrating itself with the rest of the globe so as to modernize itself. The participation of China in the world economic system has greatly benefitted China’s national interest.
China Perceived as a Threat to the Present International Order
Over few decades, the rising of China has resulted to the emergence of a sense of alarm that a powerful China might be a threat to some countries (Schaller, 2002).. Discourse on the rise of China especially in USA has centered on its possible disrupting effect in the international community. However, China was slow to realize that foreign countries were worried about its rapidly growing power and its initial reactions expressed anger and incredulity. Some western countries especially USA perceived a rising China as a threat since USA emerged as the only superpower in the post-cold war period. In the 1990s, there were talks about what was called “The China Threat Theory”, and this proved that western countries were recognizing China as a rising great power (Schaller, 2002).
Since the ancient times when China portrayed itself as benevolent power at the center of the globe, its main interest has been image-building. In the Maoist era from 1946 to 1976, China endeavored to convince foreigners that China was a revolutionary socialist power. Since the start of reform era in 1978, China’s main interest has been to gain recognition as responsible and cooperative actor in the international system. During the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, there was urgent need for China to rebuild its image since their reputation had plummeted amongst western countries, which resulted to ban of all types of weapon sales to China. As a result, China focused on image-building from 1990s, and established an external communication office to improve its overseas publicity (Schaller, 2002). The main reasons as to why China was focused on image building was because it was offended by the fact that overseas countries perceived it as a threat, thus it endeavored to eliminate the behavior that promotes such a notion.
Fears on the rise of China were more evident between 1995 and 1996 during the time when it tested its missiles in the shores of Taiwan and initiated territory clashes with Philippines within South China Sea. However, in 1997 there was an indication of a new China when it peacefully recovered Hong Kong, smoothed bilateral trade agreements with USA and provided support to Southeast Asian countries that suffered the Asian financial crises. The China’s image-building took place in numerous dimensions such as public statements on the threat theory, increased military transparency and new interest for multilateral diplomacy.
Why China is/will be a System-Sustaining or System-Transforming Power
Beijing has over the past decade engaged in efforts to build strong relations with many nations especially the African countries. Beijing is building strong diplomatic ties with countries that the western nations and America shunned away from. Beijing is particularly engaging those countries that want to defend their sovereignty unlike the westerns who meddle with the internal issues and affairs of Africa, Asia and Latin America countries. In the recent times, the Chinese president, Hu Jintao has paid high profile visits to the key players in the African continent. This has worked for Beijing in building strong relations and partnering with African countries for the creation of markets for their goods and services. The developed nations from the European Union have accused China of unfair competition and intellectual property law.
Beijing Foreign Affairs aims at establishing close relations and boost Chinas status with the International Community. Chinese massive economic development has been attributed to the many oversea markets, foreign investment and large domestic consumption. The current president of china has continued with Deng’s leadership dictum that China is to focus on its internal affairs on development and avoid direct encounters with other superpowers. The current president perceives beneficial relations with other nations as a key diplomatic initiative. This will nurture a pleasant surrounding conducive for China to continue with its economic and military development.
Beijing has been playing a significant role in imperative balance. This ensures that no single country dominates all sectors of the world economy. Instead, it has proposed a strategic partnership with other European nations on sectors such as technology, space exploration, trade, technology and defense. China has developed a concept of maintaining peace and enriching their neighbors which portrays china as a peaceful emerging superpower. China also denounces hegemony where they will not be dominant class whereby the whole world subordinates to them. Beijing has emphasized that they will never seek hegemony and that their new pre-eminence will bring substantial gains to the whole world.
China is being viewed by the Americans as a threat because of its predominance and finally become hegemony. Beijing has been able to command attention due to its formidable power on economic growth, share of the global trade and its military strength. China has now embarked on a new role of winning the acceptance of other global powers. In the recent, Beijing and Copenhagen have entered in a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen their collaboration on sustainable planning and construction. Both countries will benefit from construction of infrastructure and public transport means. Even though, Chinas internal and regional issues remain the main priority, Beijing is now much more integrated in the world economic systems. United states are wondering whether the rise of China will have any benefit for the Americans or it will pose a significant threat. On the other hand, the Chinese puzzle on whether the Americans will use their powers to hurt or help China. Therefore, Beijing foreign relations are the priority foreign policy challenge facing China. Beijing and United States beneficial relations are a key foreign policy concern in ensuring good relations between the two countries, reduce suspicion and sustain economic growth.
Since China has accomplished on improving her national economy, it can engage in activities to ensure the sustaining of these powers. This can be done by China assuming more international responsibilities in the world economy and security. Chinese intellectual property has had implications on their economic trends. Economic growth has facilitated improved living conditions in the state.
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