At the beginning of the 21st century, relations between China and the rest of the world have improved. Yet the ruling military regime that dictates China's international policy is hardly a clear-cut friend of the West. As an impressive competitor in the economic sector and an imminent contender for technological advantage China balances uncertainly between a promising free market and the bane of lingering communist rule (Thatcher, 170)…
The enduring control of a worn-out, edgy, Communist regime scarcely serves to improve international confidence in the Chinese bid for a responsible position on the world stage of the new century (Lawson, 161). It is possible that what some see as the threat of a menacing new superpower might actually be the promise of a new forward-looking Chinese generation on the verge of the disavowal of old revolutionary sympathies with aspirations of taking an active part in a wider world growing ever more interdependent (Jian, 28).
Professor Chen Jian offers a unique point of view from his background as a Chinese Red Guard during the infamous Cultural Revolution. Appraising China's foreign-policy from the vantage point of an insider rooted in Chinese history, Jian identifies a key factor in Chinese modern military behaviour as the belief that economic exploitation and military aggression by foreign imperialist countries have dishonoured the glory of the ancient Central Kingdom or Zhong Guo (Jian, 26). The perceived humiliation continues to foster a victim mindset unique to Chinese history that overshadows China's relations with the international community (Thatcher, 163). Chinese leaders held that the revolution would be ultimately successful when it recovered China's former standing in the world (Leffler and Painter, 278).
China currently boasts a ten percent annual economic growth, but poverty is rife in its rural interior. The regime uses its extensive masses in the service of its growing economic prowess, while its aging leaders wrestle with the spectre of social dissolution under the strain of vastly diverse regional political, economic, and ethnic forces (Poole-Robb and Bailey,185). Serious domestic challenges compel modern China to focus its policy largely within its own borders. The persistence of political repression along with China's dismal human rights record may actually be the uneasy admission that the iron control is slipping by degrees from their grasp (Lawson, 149).
Though Chinese labourers are more expensive than their equals in poorer countries of Southeast Asia or Africa, the Chinese nation offers a more stable situation for international investment in the current political climate, along with a dependable and competent labour force, primed by years of government-enforced discipline (Poole-Robb and Bailey, 185). The Chinese masses make attractive market prospects and inexpensive manufacturers. As China's market attains record trade, industrial output, and consumer spending, the nation's future holds both promise and paradox for the world at large (Thatcher, 114).
From near isolation China has escalated to the third strongest economy in world trade, behind the United States and Germany but ahead of Japan. Though the Chinese middle class does not quite experience the affluence Western nations enjoy, the standard of living for this growing sector of the public is relatively high within the general Chinese public, as China's domestic price differs substantially from the price of a comparable item in wealthier nations with higher standards of living (Segal, 56).
China's citizens number close to 1.5 billion people, a population in great flux. Since economic reform began under Deng Xiaoping three decades ago, the ...
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