Neoliberalism with Chinese Characteristics
The Golden Lotus manifested in a sense of higher spiritual and physical growth or understanding is highly coveted and appreciated in the Chinese society as it is embodied in the work, Neo-liberalism with Chinese Characteristics by (David Harvey). Woven into the socio-economic and spiritual fabric of the Chinese Nation, the attainment of the above status is epitomized in their social fabrics notwithstanding the costs, sacrifices and negative outcomes. After the death of their captivating leader, Mao (1976), the Chinese Nation underwent what may be termed as a peculiar mix of economic reform (market economy) under the iron grip of state control (Harvey, 2007). Deng’s administration embarked on a journey of incorporating a rapidly transforming capitalist market economy into the already established authoritarian system of governance.
As the author points out, as a result, they experienced the dual aspects of great positive social-economic expansion, at the expense of limited democratic space, environmental degradation, labor exploitation and the characteristic of not so clear growth of the capitalist class. Just as the Chinese womenfolk strive to achieve the Golden Lotus state, so have the successive Chinese administrations. It has been through the fostering of a remolding/remaking of their society through toil, pain, suffering and acculturating a sense of inner understanding, to foster the growth that the Nation experiences in the contemporary era. Focus was aimed at four sectors of the now thriving economy, in education, industry, agriculture and science and defense (Harvey, 2007).
The author states that devolution was enforced aimed at fostering healthy local and regional competition, as catalysts for spurring universal Chinese growth. The foreseen resultant levels of inequality were viewed as tolerable side-effects of the projected growth and development. Supplementary to the above was the Chinese government’s opening of its market to both foreign investment and trade that was epitomized through its entry into the WTO in 2001. Global shifts in the capitalist arena enhanced China’s journey into the global market arena through the accumulative strength of globalization and associated neo-liberal ideals. The resultant socialism with Chinese characteristics entailed the creation of unique state-influenced market economy that boomed under impressive economic development (Harvey, 2007).
Through a dual approach to its constant journey into the modern arena, the Chinese state has been able to achieve great results albeit the many challenges faced. Power struggles within the ruling Communist Party that was a result of key decision-making processes set the stage for the nation’s experienced reforms. Heavy reliance was placed upon direct foreign investments to fuel the nation’s economic growth. It countered the formation of any capitalist class strata within the social arena and thus enabled an easier approach to state control. While on one side of the spectrum, the state suppressed any form of democratic growth, on the other, it enhanced an increase in foreign capital and market forces (Harvey, 2007).
State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) and Town and Village Enterprises (TVE’s) became the bedrock of the state’s socio-economic growth. The two components integrated well with the direct foreign investments provided. Subsequent global trends necessitated the Chinese government’s “opening” of trading economic zones with limited state intervention. While the state maintains control over the economy, there is growing understanding and appreciation that private enterprise/ property with the accompanying privileges is necessary for continued growth and maintenance of social tranquility. Rapid urbanization, funded and mainly in the control of private sector, provides one avenue of re-absorbing the huge numbers of potentially unruly/uncontrollable labor reserves resultant of the great failures of state-owned/controlled enterprises during the latter 20th Century (Harvey, 2007).
Certain questions arise from these issues. Has private enterprise finally been able to dominate state-ownership and control of China’s economy? Is rapid urbanization the best way forward in promoting continued growth and the best-preferred means of social control? In addition, in the foreseeable future, is privatization and liberalization the best way forward? What is vividly clear is that the Chinese Government has its “work cut out” at maintaining growth while at the same time, achieving a positive influence in the socio-economic and political aspects of the nation (Harvey, 2007).
The author states that rapid urbanization helps greatly in the provision ways that massive labor reserves that have converged in the cities from the rural areas can be absorbed. Also, it brings up new tier cities that are locked in inter-urban competition that are mostly ferocious. The author gives the example of the Pearl River Delta that is trying to attract businesses by putting up structures that make it superior to the other cities around.
The author states that between the early and the middle of the 1990s, financial institutions including banks funded huge property developments throughout China as the “casino mentality” was widely accepted in the country. It saw the development of luxurious buildings including fist class office spaces, apartments, luxurious villas, and brazen town houses. The financial role of the state-owned banking system in China encouraged these developments. It encouraged the sector to expand extensively and rapidly after 1985 such that by 1993, the number of branches of state banks had increased considerably from 60,785 to 143,796. Also, it saw the creation of many employment opportunities. The number of employees increased from 973,355 to 1,893,957 (Harvey, 2007).
The author suggests that China is currently engaged in living up to the moral claims that the aim of mass movements is to make the central state stand on its revolutionary mandate against foreign capitals, local authorities and private authorities. It will help to retain its legitimacy.
In conclusion, it is evident, from the work that for the achievement of any success, there is need for input, the negative aspects notwithstanding. A resultant empowerment makes it worth undergoing the difficult phases. Readjustment, pain, sacrifice and perseverance are the main facets that the article underscores to strive on into the future enlightened, enriched and encouraged.