Will China become a threat to its neighbours and the rest of the world? China, which literally translates to “Middle Kingdom” in Chinese, has a history of over 2000 years. Then ruled by the Qing dynasty, the people led lives of peace, prosperity, harmony and co existence, courtesy the Confucian principles. It remained secluded from the rest of the world, in terms of trade, commerce and cultural exchanges and hence remained unaffected to any of the influences from the outside world.
This has certainly not affected the way China grew after uniting under the power and influence of the Communist Party of China [CPC]. China has been on a growth path since the late 1970’s. The Communist Party of China, realising the potential to grow outwardly, opened the economy gradually for businesses to be set up in China and relied on an export driven growth model. The huge population provided for cheap labour and the availability of human capital and necessary resources helped in this regard, and China was able to attain the absolute and consistent growth for over 30 years. This consistent growth has led to the citizens of China becoming better off by means of rising wages, purchasing power parity, better education, health facilities etc.
The CPC, being the protagonist in the growth story of China, holds the key to making the lives of the people of China better, by means of balanced regional growth, low corruption, elimination of poverty, reducing unemployment and so on. The CPC which has brought about the proposition of middle kingdom to China’s growth story, will be responsible to preserve and maintain the same growth prospects in the future as well. Now that the Chinese government was able to conceive the notion of development it had envisaged by means of outwardly growth, has laid the imperative on internal growth.
By means of increasing consumption and attaining self sustenance, the Chinese government intends to make the country less dependent on exports. In order to materialise the concept of internal growth, the Chinese government would need resources such as capital, mineral, energy resources and technology from the developed world. This is possible through mutual co-operation, trade, co-development with countries which are in consensus with China’s growth needs and aspirations.
The shift in the balance of power from the west to east, that came with the rise in countries like China, India and other east Asian nations, brought about a paradigm shift in the eyes of the western policy makers and other world bodies. Many of the western nations understood the role that these emerging economies would play in the global scenario and began amending their policies to accommodate these countries. All this led to the mutual co-operation and development in trade and commerce between these countries and China which became a significant trading partner.
Being a communist society, China was able to open up to the capitalist market for the sake of growth without compromising on its sovereignty and culture. The CPC made sure that the external influences of the capitalistic world do not affect the internal functioning of the Chinese Society. Even when there were a few aberrations, the CPC maintained a low profile in dealing with such anomalies’, with a few exceptions, never exposing itself to the criticism of the developed world, despite exercising overbearing control over its civilians for decades. Hitherto, the image of China as projected to the rest of the world as a countrywhich followed the Confucian principles of peace and harmony, seems to be fading away.
The ambition of China’s expansion in the global scenario, as a major power, has brought about a sense of insecurity not only in the developed world but also amongst its neighbours. This has left many scholars and researchers from the developed world and neighbouring countries intrigued. .Thus many theories are circulating about China’s self-imposing actions over the neighbouring territories.
One observation could be since CPC has long since adopted the domineering attitude in keeping the entire country under its power within the state, only now the world is witnessing the lopsided view of China’s growth story. This would also bring to light the lack of co-ordination within the Chinese Government. Without a strong power at the centre to integrate the states and provinces, it has become a hub of bureaucratic infighting.
Thus the policy dissonance due to the current state could also be a contributing factor toward the recent territorial disputes. Another aspect of looking at the issue would be, In the recent past, China has been pursuing to obtain a strategic disposition in the energy reserves byacquiring pieces of land in places like Africa, Afghanistan, South America, Nepal, Vietnam, Russia etc In the past year or so, China has been trying to use its military might to strengthen its foot hold in the South China sea where it is believed that if China took all the South China Sea oilfields, it would satisfy China’s energy needs for 50 years.
The South China Sea is not sovereign to China alone, but has shared boundaries with Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and other south east Asian Nations. It is also one of the major sea trading routes which connect Indian Ocean, South China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. . As a result it could be a strategic move by CPC to gain upper hand in the territories that are in question, as they are a major source of energy reservess, and this could become a major deciding factor in determining China’s chance of becoming a Super Power. Chinese warships have been confronting the US naval forces in the South China Sea, which goes to show that China has all the intentions to challenge the US hegemony globally. However on the contrary these territorial disputes appear counterproductive to China’s long term interests.
And China has failed in providing a legal argument to substantiate its control over the surrounding territories. Following this development China has antagonized its neighbouring countries and provoked US to concentrate its naval power on the sea of China’s coastline. The CPC, after successfully implementing the growth formula for China, now has the responsibility to maintain the momentum of growth at a consistent pace, failing which:
1. It may hinder the infusion of foreign investments into the economy which has become a major source of investment. China being a export driven country , major of its revenues comes from exports, following a substantial reduction in the investments could also affect the national income and per capita income of the country. 2. Existing companies may face the brunt due to scarcity of investments from the foreign soil thus adding pressure on CDC to sustain the GDP growth rate.
3. If the investments from International Institutions become inconsistent, it could push the economy toward a regressive trend; this can have serious implications on the growth of economy per se. 4. China being a huge country and several millions to feed, an economic slowdown could increase economic disparities due to socio-economic factors like unemployment, poverty, corruption etc. 5. Economic slowdown could also lead to social disharmony and a need for new form of governance (eg. Democracy) which could become a dangerous predicament for CDC.
6. These actions could also reduce the foray of international companies substantially, following which the major boost of China’s economy which is its people in the form of cheap labour could face a setback. All of the above propositions are disconcerting for the Chinese government, considering the CPC’s position as a proponent of communism. Hence in order to secure its position as the main controlling body in China, the CPC may resort to all measures that is possible in its own ambit to maintain the growth momentum. Only the growth factor is holding the major economies of the world from taking aggressive measures against China as it could facilitate the global economy significantly.
Furthermore CDC might also need to give a serious thought on the path it is headed on. The dominating approach adopted so far could pose a threat on the growth story of China and also weaken the spot for other political players to emerge. Unless acted upon the implications of its actions could be severe which may be ranging from resistance from the neighbouring economies to withdrawal of foreign investments from the economy. This could have an adverse effect on the growth of the economy.
Being a major player among the developing economies also has its disadvantages as other nations would try to emulate the growth model which could result in repercussions on a global level. CDC being a communist party, should exhibit strong leadership capabilities by contributing to the larger good of its people and retain their trust. Hence under the current scenario the best probable solution for CDC would be to play by the rules and adopt a restrained approach. This could facilitate CDC to maintain control over the economy as well as the country as a whole, thus increasing the odds of gaining the Super Power status.