China a guide to economic and political developments
There is currently widespread and growing interest in the Chinese economy, its rapid growth, and the consequent impact on world business and economic affairs. At the same time, there are concerns about China’s political system, the Chinese Communist Party, China’s human rights record and the degree to which reform – the development of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ – represents real liberalization. This book provides full details of economic and political developments in China, focusing in particular on events since 1978. It includes coverage of Hong Kong, Macao, Tibet and Taiwan, together with China’s relations, including international trade, with its neighbours and with the international community. It considers the evolution of China’s ‘open-door’ policy in economic affairs, the impact of entry into the WTO and effects of the Asian ﬁnancial crisis. All the key topics – the growth of the market, the reform of state-owned enterprises, foreign investment, human rights, SARS and bird ﬂu – are comprehensively covered. Overall, this book provides a full account of economic and political developments in China, and will be of importance to all who are interested in this country’s affairs, not only scholars but also those within the business and policy-making communities. Ian Jeffries is Reader in Economics and member of the Centre of Russian and Eastern European Studies at the University of Wales Swansea. He is one of the foremost authorities on the post-communist world and has written extensively on
communist and transitional economies. His publications include A Guide to the Socialist Economies (Routledge, 1990), Socialist Economies and the Transition to the Market (Routledge, 1993) and The Countries of the Former Soviet Union at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century: The Baltics and European States in Transition (Routledge, 2004), the last of a ﬁve-volume series written by the author.
Guides to economic and political developments in Asia
1 North Korea A guide to economic and political developments Ian Jeffries 2 Vietnam A guide to economic and political developments Ian Jeffries 3 China A guide to economic and political developments Ian Jeffries
China A guide to economic and political developments
First published 2006 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
ISBN 10: 0–415–38223–8 (hbk) ISBN 10: 0–203–09966–4 (ebk) ISBN 13: 978–0–415–38223–6 (hbk) ISBN 13: 978–0–203–09966–7 (ebk)
China: a summary Population 3 Chinese civilization 9 Communist China 12 Deng Xiaoping 14 China after Deng Xiaoping 16 Economic reforms 20
Politics China and Taiwan 26 The regaining of sovereignty over Hong Kong on 1 July 1997 and Macao on 20 December 1999 76 Tibet 108 Inner Mongolia 110 Uighurs 111 Human rights 116 SARS 160 Bird ﬂu 175 AIDS 225 Pig disease 229 Direct elections at the local level 230 Political developments, congresses and Central Committee sessions since March 1993 240
The economy Introduction 375 Agriculture 377 The market gradually replacing central planning 402
vi Contents The reform of state industrial enterprises 441 The non-state, non-agricultural sectors 507 The ‘open-door’ policy 516 Economic performance 616 Postscript Political developments 641 Economic developments 651
I am much indebted to the following individuals (in alphabetical order): At the University of Wales Swansea: David Blackaby; Siân Brown; Dianne Darrell; Michele Davies; Peter Day; Chris Hunt; Frances Jackson; Jaynie Lewis; Nigel O’Leary; Lis Parcell; Mary Perman; Ann Preece; Paul Reynolds; Kathy Sivertsen; Jeff Smith; Syed Hamzah bin Syed Hussin; Clive Towse; Ray Watts; Chris West. Professors Nick Baigent, George Blazyca, Paul Hare, Lester Hunt and Michael Kaser. Russell Davies (Kays Newsagency). At Routledge: Yeliz Ali, Simon Bailey, Amrit Bangard, Tom Bates, Oliver Escrit, Tessa Herbert, Alan Jarvis, Liz Jones, Alex Meloy, Peter Sowden, Alfred Symons, Annabel Watson, Mike Wending, James Whiting, Vanessa Winch and Jayne Young. At Wearset: Matt Deacon and Claire Dunstan. Ian Jeffries Department of Economics and Centre of Russian and East European Studies University of Wales Swansea
Readers will note in the bibliography that I have published extensively on communist and transitional economies, but most books deal with groups of countries. Since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in and after 1989, the number of countries I have analysed has grown from fourteen to thirty-ﬁve! Owing to the large number of languages involved, I have had to rely overwhelmingly on English sources. I am unable to read Chinese and so cannot undertake frontier research on China. Nevertheless, a vast amount of information is available in English on this increasingly important country. Despite an already vast literature there seems to be a need for a broad-ranging study covering both economic and political developments, with particular emphasis on events since economic reforms began in 1978. I have tried to write a book which will be of interest to governments, business and academics (from a wide range of disciplines, including economics, politics and international relations). I present a richly endowed ‘quarry’ of up-to-date economic and political information (presented chronologically where appropriate) to allow the reader to dig out any desired facts and ﬁgures. This is not (and is not meant to be) original research but a broad-brush painting of the overall economic and political picture. I make extensive use of quality newspapers such as the International Herald Tribune (IHT), Financial Times (FT), The Times, the Guardian, the Independent and the Daily Telegraph. Publications such as The Economist, the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), The World Today, Asian Survey, Transition and Finance and Development have also proven to be invaluable. A review in The Times Higher Education Supplement (29 October 1993) kindly referred to my ‘meticulous referencing’, even though detailed referencing has the potential to be tiresome to readers. But since this is not original research and I am deeply indebted to many sources, I feel it necessary to make every effort to acknowledge the material used. It is not always feasible to name the correspondents or contributors, but I try, as far as possible, to ensure that credit goes where it is due. For this reason and for accuracy I make extensive use of quotations, although where these include commonly quoted sayings or speeches I leave out speciﬁc sources. China’s relations with North Korea are dealt with in a companion volume entitled North Korea: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments (2006). This book also deals with the question of how planned economies operate and general issues in the transition from command to market economies.
China: a summary
Population China is the largest country in the world in terms of population. The population was 1.158 billion at the end of 1991 and 1.259 billion at the end of 1999. A ﬁgure of 1.265 billion was announced on 28 March 2001, the result of the ﬁfth national census held on 1 November 2000. In 2001 the ﬁgure was 1.272 billion. On 6 January 2005 the ﬁgure was 1.3 billion. The world population ﬁgure reached 6 billion in October 1999. India is the second largest country in the world by population, reaching 1 billion in August 1999 and 1.033 billion in 2001. (On 1 January 2004 the population of the United States was 292,287,454.) (China is the third largest country in the world in terms of land area after Russia and Canada.) About 92 per cent of the population is Han. By ofﬁcial estimates barely half the population can speak the ofﬁcial language [Mandarin] . . . A government survey published last year  said only 53 per cent of the population ‘can communicate in Putonghua’ [Mandarin]. In recognition of this broadcasters commonly include subtitles – the meaning of written Chinese characters is stable even as spoken dialects vary – on television to help people overcome comprehension problems . . . China has ﬁfty-ﬁve ethnic minorities . . . China’s Han [is] the ethnic group that makes up more than 90 per cent of the population . . . The Han speak as many as 1,500 dialects, with the bulk of them concentrated in the southern half of the country . . . Many of the Han dialects are almost entirely mutually incomprehensible. (www.iht.com, 10 July 2005) Although the Chinese share a common written language, linguists identify eight major spoken-language groups that are mutually unintelligible. The Communists, like the Nationalists before them, have gone to great lengths to impose a common spoken language, Putonghua, commonly known as Mandarin outside of China, as part of their drive to reinforce national unity. But regional language groups, which include Cantonese and Shanghainese, have been surprisingly resilient . . . Cantonese is spoken by about 60 million people in Guangdong province and in Hong Kong and Macao, as well as among ethnic Chinese populations overseas. (www.iht.com, 15 January 2006; IHT, 16 January 2006, p. 9)
China: a summary
China has to support about 22 per cent of the world’s population on something like 7 per cent of the world’s arable area. ‘In 1979 only 11 per cent of the total land area of China was cultivated (50 per cent of India’s land is cultivated), with just 0.12 ha per capita of the agricultural population (compared with India’s 0.42)’ (World Bank 1984: 35, cited in Jeffries 1993: 137). ‘Only about half of China is habitable . . . [It] has 7 per cent of the world’s cultivable land’ (FT, 27 July 2004, p. 15). ‘China is the world’s largest agricultural producer, feeding some 22 per cent of the world’s population with 10 per cent of its arable land’ (FEER, 2 May 2002, p. 25). ‘China attained food selfsufﬁciency in the mid-1990s, managing to nourish 20 per cent of the world’s population from 7 per cent of its arable farmland’ (The Times, 8 April 2005, p. 50). Thus it is no coincidence that agricultural reform was ﬁrst in line after 1978 (see later). By 1986 life expectancy had risen to 66.9 for men and 70.9 for women (Jeffries 1993: 138). Average life expectancy at birth rose from thirty-ﬁve years in 1949 to seventy years in 1989. Health experts agree that one of the major achievements of China’s health system before 1978 was the provision of basic medical care for all urban and rural Chinese. These services, along with an emphasis on preventative medicine and national campaigns to eradicate endemic disease, contributed to an increase in average Chinese life expectancy from thirty-ﬁve years in 1949 to sixty-eight years by 1978. Despite a dramatic increase in prosperity and living standards in China since 1978 average life expectancy has increased by only 3.5 years, about half the gains in longevity in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and [South] Korea over the same period . . . Critics note that the government share of national health spending has plummeted from close to 100 per cent during the planned period to about 16 per cent today as the government has steadily withdrawn from providing health services. By comparison, public spending accounts for about 44 per cent of health outlays in the United States and an average of more than 70 per cent in other advanced industrial countries . . . The public’s access to health care in China has been steadily declining for more than two decades . . . Critics . . .. [talk of] exorbitant charges for medical services, wasteful overservicing and widespread over-prescription of drugs . . . A hard-hitting report [was issued] earlier this month by the Development Research Centre, one of the government’s top advisory bodies . . . The report was co-sponsored by the World Health Organization . . . [The report] noted ‘to our shame’ that the World Health Organization ranked the Chinese health system as one of the most unfair in the world. The report said: ‘Most of the medical needs of society cannot be met because of economic reasons. Poor people cannot even enjoy the most basic health care’ . . . In the absence of widespread medical insurance, many Chinese, particularly the 800 million living in rural areas, cannot afford treatment when they are ill . . . The return [has been witnessed] of deadly diseases including tuberculosis and schistosomiasis [a parasitic disease carried by water snails] that had largely been eradicated before 1978 . . . Health care outlays have now reached 6 per cent of GDP, a relatively high rate for a developing country. During the planned era outlays on health care were about half that proportion. (www.iht.com, 19 August 2005; IHT, 20 August 2005, p. 2)
China: a summary 5 Policy as regards population growth Since roughly the mid-1950s the state has tried to control population growth, often in draconian fashion. The 1953 census revealed a 1952 population of 575 million and shocked the party into a population control programme after 1956. Previously exclusive blame for poverty was based on capitalism and imperialism, Mao opposing birth control as a ‘bourgeois Malthusian doctrine’ (Fang Lizhi, Independent, 18 January 1989, p. 19). It was not until the early 1970s, however, that the programme really took off, with the aim, set in 1980, of restricting population growth to 1.2 billion by the year 2000. A mixture of ﬁnancial and non-pecuniary incentives and penalties were applied, especially to try to attain the goal of one child per family, formally adopted in 1979. This was relaxed somewhat in 1984–5 and tightened in 1987. After mid1988 a surprising switch in policy took place, allowing families in rural areas to have a second child if the ﬁrst was a girl, due to the difﬁculty of enforcing policy. But the policy was maintained for urban areas and tightened up generally for larger families (Jeffries 1993: 174). ‘The population of China will ofﬁcially reach 1.3 billion [on 6 January 2005] . . . State media credited the government’s population control policies over the past thirty years for delaying the date of arrival at the 1.3 billion ﬁgure by four years’ (The Times, 4 January 2005, p. 32). ‘[China claims that its population] would today top 1.5 billion . . . without government intervention’ (The Times, 7 January 2005, p. 43). The present policy as population, formally introduced in 1979, is ‘one child’ per family with exceptions which have grown over time. China’s one-child policy was ﬁrst implemented in 1979, but ofﬁcially proclaimed only in the early 1980s . . . According to Chinese estimates, only one in ﬁve youngsters is an only child. Faced with growing evidence that its population control measures are being ignored [e.g. false claims that children are twins], Beijing is aiming to switch to a two-child policy . . . [although] there is no ofﬁcial policy change yet . . . [China says that the one-child policy] has prevented 300 million births during the past decade and brought down China’s birth rate from 33 per thousand to ﬁfteen by the end of the 1990s. (The Times, 8 November 2004, p. 35) A little-known provision in China’s family planning policy allows an only child married to another only child to have two children, providing the kids are spaced four years apart . . . Now the ﬁrst generation born under the one-child policy is starting to get married . . . more and more couples will be eligible for exemption. (FEER, 23 November 2000, p. 98) China is starting to move away from its ‘one-child’ policy and compulsory birth quotas . . . Targets and quotas have been abandoned in a trial project backed by the UN Population Fund in thirty-two rural counties. Beijing now plans to extend the voluntary approach to a further 800 counties . . . The onechild rule has already been relaxed in most of rural China, where families are
China: a summary allowed two children if the ﬁrst is a girl – and often if it is a boy. City dwellers are still limited to one child, unless both parents are single children themselves . . . While birth quotas have been removed in the thirty-two pilot counties, families who exceed two children still have to pay a ﬁne, known as the ‘social compensation payment’ . . . Instead of paying the ﬁne, couples can choose to have an abortion, especially if the pregnancy was unintended. Another important difference under the UN scheme is that families no longer have to apply to have their ﬁrst child. In the past it might have been refused if the village ‘quota’ had been ﬁlled. (Guardian, 27 July 2002, p. 18) [On 22 July the USA] withheld $34 million in international family planning funds designated for the United Nations . . . [because] any money to the agency . . . [the United States claimed] helps the ‘Chinese government to implement more effectively its programmes of coercive abortion’. (IHT, 3 August 2002, p. 6) China’s one-child policy . . . [was] launched in 1980 after the population topped 1 billion . . . But implementation has always been spotty. Today only about 20 per cent of children under fourteen are from single-child families . . . The policy has been most effective in cities, where residents face heavy ﬁnes and can lose their jobs. But in the countryside, where parents depend on children to help them, especially sons, resistance has been widespread . . . By the mid-1980s most rural communities allowed families with one daughter to have a second child after four years – in effect to try for a son . . . In 1995 Beijing approved a pilot project in six rural counties where family planning workers would try to limit births by expanding health services for women, providing more information about contraception and allowing couples to make their own decisions. Then, in 1998, the UN population agency encouraged China to take the experiment a step further, providing funding and training to thirty-two rural counties . . . that agreed to eliminate the birth permits, targets and quotas and stop promoting abortion as family planning . . . [For example] under China’s one-child policy, couples in this rural county [the county of Yushi] in Jiangxi province once needed a permit to have a baby. Women as a rule were ﬁtted with IUDs after their ﬁrst child, sterilized after their second. But times have changed. Yushi abolished the permits several years ago and let women make their own decisions about birth control. It stopped setting birth quotas and sterilization targets for family planning workers, too. The only punishment now for having an extra child is a ﬁne, and even that is only occasionally collected in full . . . Four years later . . . [it is claimed that] population growth in Yushi has remained steady. In addition, infant mortality and other health indicators have improved . . . as have relations between family planning workers and residents. Similar results have been reported in the other thirty-one counties . . . [It has also been claimed] that ofﬁcials across the country had been impressed by the results of the UN project, and that many were also abandoning birth permits and quotas . . . [It is said] that cities and counties accounting for nearly a quarter of China’s 1.3 billion people had eliminated birth permits and quotas
China: a summary 7 over the last ﬁve years . . . and about half the population now lives in jurisdictions that allow women to choose which type of contraception to use. (IHT, 21 August 2002, pp. 1, 7) China’s ﬁrst national family planning law came into effect more than two decades after its one-child-per-family policy was introduced. The legislation is aimed at preventing ofﬁcials from arbitrarily ﬁning and harshly punishing families which violate the policy. Couples who have more than one child will now pay a weighted form of compensation, while local governments must foot family planning budgets rather than relying on ﬁnes levied on parents. (FEER, 12 September 2002, p. 12) Beijing is considering the value of continuing the one-child policy . . . At the time it was adopted in 1979, at the urging of Deng Xiaoping, the one-child policy . . . represented a huge change from the historical importance of large families in China and from a Maoist philosophy that encouraged parents to have more children because China would be strengthened by a big population . . . Some have said [there have been] cases of forced sterilization, abandonment of unwanted children and infanticide by parents who favoured sons over daughters. According to 2000 census data, China had 117 boys born for every 100 girls . . . Fears of instability that could be caused by this imbalance is prompting ofﬁcials to consider relaxing or scrapping the policy. (FEER, 14 October 2004, p. 28) China hopes to achieve a normal balance of newborn boys and girls within six years [by 2010] by banning the use of abortions to select an infant’s sex and by making welfare payments to couples without sons . . . Government ﬁgures show that 117 boys are born in China to every 100 girls – a gap blamed largely on a policy limiting most couples to one child. In a society that values sons, many parents abort baby girls, hoping to try again for a boy . . . The ‘one child’ limit allows rural families to have two children if the ﬁrst is a girl, because Chinese peasants traditionally rely on sons to support them in old age . . . Researchers say China has millions fewer girls than it normally should, suggesting that many were aborted or killed after birth . . . Another programme gives money to couples who have only one child or two daughters and no sons, or whose children are deceased or disabled . . . Couples get 1,200 yuan, or $145, per couple a year after they turn sixty as compensation to families that practise family planning. (www.iht.com, 15 July 2004) ‘Beijing said on 15 July that it would strictly ban selective abortion of female foetuses’ (www.feer.com, 29 July 2004). [In 2003] 117 boys were born for every 100 girls, compared with a global average of 105 to 100 . . . Ofﬁcials said that they would offer welfare incentives to couples with two daughters and tighten the prohibition on sex-selective abortions . . . Pilot programmes are already under way in China’s poorest provinces. In some areas couples with two daughters and no sons have been
China: a summary promised an annual payment of 600 renminbi once they reach sixty years of age. The money, which is a signiﬁcant sum in areas where the average income is [low] . . . will also be given to families with only one child to discourage couples with a daughter from trying again for a boy . . . In parts of Fujian province local governments have given housing grants . . . to couples with two girls. The state will expand welfare programmes so poor couples rely less on producing a son to care for them in their old age. It will also push a ‘caring for girls’ propaganda campaign . . . China’s demographic distortions have clearly worsened since the introduction of the one-child policy. In 1982 the boy-to-girl ratio was similar to the global average . . . Since 1980 family planning ofﬁcials say the restrictions have prevented 300 million births that would otherwise [have occurred] . . . Two laws have been passed banning gynaecologists from telling pregnant women the sex of their foetus once it is conﬁrmed by ultrasound checks. (Guardian, 16 July 2004, p. 19) Despite some changes, China’s one-child family planning programme remains a source of coercion, forced abortions, infanticide and perilously imbalanced boy-girl ratios, [US] State Department ofﬁcials said [on 14 December 2004] . . . Couples who have unsanctioned children have been subject to heavy ﬁnes, job losses and forced sterilization . . . Testimony [in the United States]. . . focussed on a Shanghai woman who, since her second pregnancy in the late 1980s, has been assigned to psychiatric wards, coerced into having an abortion and removed from her job. (www.iht,com, 15 December 2004) One of the world’s least controlled abortion regimes will be tightened . . . on 1 January 2005 . . . when the city of Guiyang . . . the provincial capital of Guizhou province . . . introduces a pilot programme aimed at halting the widespread termination of female foetuses. The new policy bans doctors from carrying out abortions on most women who are more than fourteen weeks into pregnancy. In many cases the parents delay making a decision until ultrasound checks can determine the sex of their child . . . China’s laws do not set time limits for abortions . . . In 1982, shortly after the introduction of the one-child policy, the ratio was similar to the global average of 105 boys for every 100 girls . . . Because of the stiff ﬁnancial penalties for second children, many couples have unregistered babies. There may be as many as 100 million of these ‘illegal children’. (Guardian, 16 December 2004, p. 14)
‘With over 40 million more men than women in the general population, China is seeking to strengthen laws on prohibiting the use of selective abortion of female foetuses’ (IHT, 8 January 2005, p. 6). The National Population and Family Planning Commission: ‘As a new measure, the commission will start drafting revisions to the criminal law in order to effectively ban foetus gender detection and selective abortion other than for legitimate medical purposes’ (IHT, 8 January 2005, p. 6; Guardian, 8 January 2005, p. 18). ‘Government ﬁgures show that 119 boys are
China: a summary 9 born for every 100 girls, largely because parents abort girls to try again for a boy, under China’s one-child policy’ (The Times, 8 January 2005, p. 44). ‘Beijing has set a goal of reversing the imbalance by 2010 . . . But demographers have said that in poor, rural areas girls are often not cared for as well as boys, resulting in higher infant death rates for girls’ (Guardian, 8 January 2005, p. 18). In early January  the government announced that the nationwide ratio had reached 119 boys to every hundred girls . . . China’s imbalance has widened since population controls began in the late 1970s . . . [although the] preference [for boys] dates back centuries . . . Selective sex abortions . . . were already banned, but doctors often accepted bribes from parents who wanted to guarantee a boy . . . [Experiments are being conducted to give] rural elderly people annual pensions . . . if they had only one child or if they had daughters . . . [and to give] female students from poor families free tuition as are students from families with two girls. (IHT, 31 January 2005, pp. 1, 7) (Although great strides have also been made in education, President Jiang Zemin said in August 2001 that there were still 100 million illiterate Chinese: IHT, 10 August 2001, p. 3.) (‘From the late 1970s . . . Chinese policymakers . . . began allowing Chinese citizens to travel abroad’: FT, 14 January 2004, p. 17).
Chinese civilization China is an ancient civilization. The question why China fell behind Europe after being ahead is an interesting one. Factors may include centralization which stiﬂed initiative and enterprise, and a sense of cultural superiority. China is an ancient and continuous civilization (‘The longest continuous civilization in the world’: The Times, Supplement, 8 October 1999, p. 4). The Shang dynasty was founded in about 1550 BC. But the ﬁrst centralized Chinese state occurred during the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC). The Han dynasty lasted from 206 BC to AD 220. Disunity followed until China was reuniﬁed under the Sui (581–618) and the Tang (618–907). The population of China reached 100 million by the end of the Song dynasty. The Song dynasty was in power from 960 to 1279. The Mongols under Genghis Khan invaded China in the thirteenth century and they established their capital at Beijing (meaning ‘northern capital’ and formerly called Peking in English). The Mongol Yuan dynasty ruled for nearly a hundred years until the Mongols were expelled by the Ming in 1368. The Ming dynasty lasted until the Qing (Manchu) conquest of China in 1644. That dynasty ended in 1911 and a republic was proclaimed. The existence of the shadowy Xia dynasty – and with it Beijing’s claims that China’s civilization dates back 4,000 or even 5,000 years – has always been the subject of intense debate both in China and abroad. All this is supposed to end later this year  when a government-appointed commission of 170 scholars is due to announce that after four years of research they have blown
China: a summary away the doubts about China’s misty past . . . Critics say Beijing’s attempts to promote nationalism have driven the project and that as a result the credibility of the ﬁndings has been compromised . . . Analysts worry that the study could provide new fuel to a growing ﬁre of ethnocentric nationalism in China that could result in a more belligerent foreign policy stance on issues such as Taiwan and China’s leadership role in Asia . . . Compared with the world’s three other ancient civilizations – in present-day Egypt, India and Iraq – the origins of Chinese civilizations have always been controversial. That is because of the long transition period between the various primitive cultures that existed along the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers from roughly 8,000 to 3,000 BC and the beginnings of the country’s written record during the Zhou dynasty in 841 BC . . . The existence of the Shang dynasty (roughly 1,500 to 1,000 BC) . . . as a ‘civilization’, with an organized state and a class system, is no longer in doubt . . . [The Shang dynasty lasted from the sixteenth to the twelfth century BC and the Zhou dynasty lasted from the twelfth to the third century BC] . . . The Xia, by contrast has remained the stuff of legend . . . Archaeologists working on the project say that the ﬁnal report . . . will conclude that the Xia dynasty – and thus Chinese civilization – began around the year 2150 BC and continued for about 650 years until the Shang dynasty. The report is also likely to conclude that the reign of Emperor Yu, or the Great Yu – a mythical ﬁgure – marked the dynasty’s founding. It will also trace the origins of the Xia back another 500 years by linking the Xia artefacts to those uncovered . . . in north-western Henan. Some scholars believe the site was used by a mythological ﬁgure called the Yellow Emperor, the legendary ancestor of all Chinese people. (Bruce Gilley, FEER, 20 July 2000, pp. 74–7) In academic circles scepticism abounds over Huangdi . . . the Yellow Emperor, regarded as the founder of the Middle Kingdom . . . He is credited with the word ‘emperor’ and the imperial colour yellow, but Chinese legend also claims that he uniﬁed three major tribes in the Yellow and Yangtze River areas, invented the cart and the boat, and that his dialogues with the physician Qi Bo were the basis of China’s ﬁrst medical book, the Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine. (The Times, 10 April 2002, p. 20) Zheng He . . . explored the Paciﬁc and Indian Oceans with a mighty armada a century before [Christopher] Columbus discovered America . . . At its [the armada’s] peak [there were] as many as 300 ships and 30,000 sailors . . . [compared with Columbus’s three ships] . . . Zheng He’s ﬁrst mission [was] in 1405 . . . [and] his ﬁnal voyage [was] in 1433 . . . By the latter half of the ﬁfteenth century the country had entered a prolonged period of self-imposed isolation that lasted into the twentieth century, leaving European powers to rule the seas. (www.iht.com, 20 July 2005) A prominent Chinese lawyer and collector . . . Liu Gang . . . unveiled an old map on Monday [16 January 2006] that he and some supporters say should
China: a summary 11 topple one of the central tenets of Western civilization: that Europeans were the ﬁrst to sail around the world and discover America. The Chinese map, which was drawn up in 1763 but claims to be a reproduction of an ancient map dated 1418, presents the world as a globe with all the major continents rendered with an exactitude that European maps did not have for another century and a half, after Columbus, Da Gama, Magellan, Dias and others had completed their renowned explorations. But the map got a cool reception from some scholars . . . At issue are the seven voyages of Zheng He, whose ships sailed the Paciﬁc and Indian oceans from 1405 to 1432. Historical records show he explored South-east Asia, India, the Gulf and the east coast of Africa, using navigation techniques and ships that were far ahead of their time . . . Gavin Menzies . . . a former British Navy submarine commander . . . [in] his 2002 book 1421: The Year China Discovered America . . . claims that Zheng He visited America in 1421, seventy-one years before Columbus arrived there . . . [The book] laid out extensive but widely disputed evidence that Zheng He sailed to the east coast of today’s United States and may have left settlements in South America. Menzies has welcomed Liu’s map as evidence that his theory is correct. (IHT, 17 January 2006, p. 4) The period 1911 to 1949 As already mentioned, the Ming dynasty ended in 1911 and a republic was proclaimed. (China was defeated by Britain in the Opium War of 1841–2 and that was followed by de facto Western domination of China. This humiliating experience has inﬂuenced China’s foreign policy to the present day.) The Kuomintang Party (founded in 1924 by Sun Yat-sen) and the Communist Party of China (founded in 1921) co-operated in the drive to break the power of warlords, but in 1927, following the earlier death of Sun Yat-sen and under the new leader Chiang Kai-shek, the former party turned on the latter. The Kuomintang established a new government at Nanking. In 1936 the Communist Party were driven northwards from their rural bases in southern China (the so-called ‘Long March’). Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and opened full-scale hostilities in 1937. Chiang and the Chinese communists under Mao Tse-Tung then teamed up against the Japanese invaders. But civil war again broke out after Japan’s defeat by the Allies in 1945. The communists were the victors. Taiwan was a Japanese colony between 1895 and 1945. Chiang Kai-shek’s forces ﬂed there on 10 December 1949 after losing the civil war. Beijing took over Taiwan’s seat in the United Nations in 1971. President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972 and recognized the country and its ‘One China’ policy. The United States is against Taiwan ever seeking independence but helps Taiwan defend itself and expects any reuniﬁcation to be achieved peacefully and voluntarily. China says that it will attack Taiwan if the island declares independence. Relations between China and Taiwan have been particularly strained since the election of President Chen Shui-bian in March 2000. The ‘anti-secession’ law was approved by the National People’s Congress on 14 March 2005. This heightened tension, although China
China: a summary
stressed that ‘non-peaceful’ means would be a last resort to prevent secession. The United States has a policy of ambiguity as regards defending Taiwan, but it is generally assumed that it would come to Taiwan’s rescue if attacked by China.
Communist China The People’s Republic (‘communist’ regime) was proclaimed on 1 October 1949 by Mao Tse-Tung (Zedong), who died in September 1976. (The Communist Party was established in 1921.) The People’s Republic of China became a member of the United Nations in 1971. Although there were pockets of modern industry in the Treaty Ports and a commercial and monetary tradition, at the start of its socialist period China was, in other respects, a classically poor country. In 1949, 89 per cent of its population classiﬁed as rural. Average life expectancy was thirty-ﬁve years. The literacy rate was 20 per cent. The commodity structure of foreign trade was characterized by mainly primary product exports and manufactured imports. In the period 1931–6 net investment was only about 3 per cent of net domestic product (Riskin 1987: 33). The new communist regime was also confronted with hyperinﬂation on taking control. In 1952, by which time the economy had largely recovered from decades of foreign and civil war, per capita GNP was only $50, while agriculture employed 84 per cent of the work force and contributed 60 per cent to net material product (Riskin 1987: 269) China is a one-party state, with the Communist Party determined to retain control. It was prepared to shoot protesting students in Tiananmen Square in June 1989. The stress is on ‘unity and stability’ and the regime is fearful of dissidents linking up with discontented workers and peasants and of mass movements such as Falun Gong. The new search for values from China’s past is exploited by Falun Gong, a movement ordinarily seen in the West as a sect linked to rather mysterious traditional practices involving physical exercises as a source of well-being . . . Even though it is not a peasant movement, and frames its claims in intellectual terms, Falun Gong resembles popular movements that emerged during the ﬁnal decades of the decadent Manchu empire . . . Falun Gong reproaches the [Communist] Party for having attacked China’s 5,000-year-old traditional culture, attempting to destroy its three ancient religious traditions, Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist. It accuses the Communists of being the only regime in China’s history to have attempted to eradicate all three ethical systems, in the past considered the source of legitimate government in China, providing ‘the mandate of heaven’. This is a powerful and damaging attack on a Communist Party that presented itself as the vehicle of modernity in China. (William Pfaff, IHT, 25 August 2005, p. 6) The Communist leaders . . . came to power through mass movements and is likely to lose power only in the same way; it is therefore frightened of any group, even a non-political group like the Falun Gong, that has demonstrated
China: a summary 13 its power to produce mass meetings and demonstrations, or of any publication, like that of The Tiananmen Papers, that threatens to embarrass the present Party leaders and undermine their personal position. But the Party is not frightened of purely academic discussions in which only general philosophical opinions and aspirations are mooted . . . The government cultivates uncertainty about what it will punish as a policy of deterrence . . . Political repression, though often savage and arbitrary, seems pragmatic. It is limited to what the government regards as genuine or potential threats to its position and is intended to discourage open political opposition; it is not an attempt at total mind-control . . . [In China reference is made to Russia, whose transition produced] what they [the Chinese] call ‘chaos’, crime, corruption, inefﬁciency and vulnerability to separatism and border terrorism. (Ronald Dworkin, The New York Review of Books, 2002, vol. XLIX, no. 14, pp. 66–7) China is 90 per cent Han. ‘The country has ﬁfty-ﬁve other groups’ (IHT, 1 November 2004, p. 1). There has been unrest among ethnic minorities in peripheral areas such as the Uighurs in Xinjiang (which borders Kazakhstan). The United States and China became closer after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on targets in the United States. The United States has named one Uighur group as part of international terrorism, but critics stress the importance in general of not branding genuine independence movements as ‘international terrorism’ and thus not giving countries like China and Russia (in the case of Chechnya) an excuse for suppressing domestic rebels. The party is resolved to avoid what it sees as the anarchic conditions prevailing in transitional Russia (and indeed in the Soviet Union just before it disintegrated). Although the party has been somewhat weakened by the devolving of economic decision-making to enterprises and powerful regions, the political situation is stable enough to provide conditions conducive to gradual, partial economic reforms and to the attraction of foreign investment. The remarkable economic progress, however, is in stark contrast to its record on human rights. China has faced periodic censure votes in the United Nations Human Rights Commission since 1990 (after Tiananmen), although all resolutions have failed to be carried to date. China stresses aspects such as the beneﬁts of rapid economic development when discussing human rights. China does not acknowledge that it has any political prisoners, claiming that over 2,000 people have been jailed for counter-revolutionary offences. The already weak dissident movement has been more or less decimated. Leading dissidents such as Wei Jingshen have ended up in the USA. Attempts to register the China Democratic Party in June 1998 (timed to coincide with the visit of US President Bill Clinton) led to jail sentences of up to thirteen years for allegedly attempting to ‘overthrow state power’. There is an extensive labour camp network. (Former camp inmate Harry Wu estimates that there are 10 million inmates, while the Chinese government admits to fewer than 1.5 million: Guardian, 19 May 1994, p. 27.) On 22 July 1999 the Falun Gong movement was formally banned and in October 1999 it was ofﬁcially described as an ‘evil cult’. The regime sees the
China: a summary
movement as a threat to the social stability deemed essential for economic reform and as a threat to the authority of the party at a time when ideology is declining and nationalism has not entirely ﬁlled the void. On 25 April 1999 more than 10,000 members had staged a peaceful demonstration around the leadership compound in Beijing, complaining about critical comments in the press and demanding legal status. Falun Gong means ‘Way of the Law of the Wheel’ and is a (slow-motion) exercise and meditation movement. It is inﬂuenced by Buddhist and Taoist principles expressed through breathing exercises. Independent trade unions are not allowed. Religious freedom has increased but is still severely restricted. For example, Catholics are allowed to practise under the auspices of the Ofﬁcial Chinese Catholic Association. The West estimates that many more practise underground (recognizing the authority of the Pope). China and the Vatican do not have diplomatic relations (although the latter has signalled its desire to establish these – at the expense of those with Taiwan – if agreement can be reached over isues such as the appointment of bishops). Unofﬁcial churches are harshly dealt with. Tibet remains a sensitive problem for China (which invaded the country in 1950). The Dalai Lama ﬂed to India in 1959 and has still not been allowed to return even though he accepts Chinese sovereignty and acknowledges diplomatic improvements. China has been criticized over the way it has handled AIDS and SARS in the country. China has exercised strict control over the internet, seeing its beneﬁts but aware of the threat to party control over information and communication. It must be said, however, that the present leaders are among the most liberal realistically on offer. Ordinary people have generally beneﬁted substantially in terms of rising living standards and typically enjoy much greater freedom as regards work, movement and information. Many Chinese students now study in Western countries. On 5 October 1998 China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, although it has yet to ratify it. Direct elections for village committees, which formally started in 1988, are not to be lightly dismissed despite being essentially under party control. The degree of democracy varies substantially, but they are seen centrally as a way of improving and controlling local government, combating corruption and venting local discontent. The ﬁrst township election took place on 31 December 1998. In 1999 experiments began with direct elections at the lowest level (‘neighbourhood committees’) in a number of cities.
Deng Xiaoping Deng Xiaoping was born on 22 August 1904 and died on 19 February 1997. He was the leading ﬁgure in the drive for economic reform, adopting a pragmatic approach (see quotations below). Deng won the struggle within the Communist Party about how to maintain party control. (‘In 1976 after Mao’s death and the capture of the gang of four, Hua Guofeng, Mao’s chosen successor, became top leader. But with little Beijing experience, Hua was no match for Deng, who step by step gained support to become top leader in 1978. At the Third Plenum in Decem-
China: a summary 15 ber 1978 Deng was anointed and launched his “reform and opening” . . . He said he “crossed the river by groping for stones”’: FEER, 25 November 1999, p. 43.) After he relinquished the titles of political ofﬁce, Deng Xiaoping’s only remaining formal title was ‘Most Honorary President of the China Bridge Association’! But he remained the most powerful ﬁgure in reality. Deng’s argument (which is still generally accepted) is that concessions to the market and non-state ownership are essential for maintaining party control, while his opponents believed that the party’s power is threatened by radical economic reforms (e.g. it leads to demands for political reform). (Deng’s ideas on economic reform were inﬂuenced by people such as Zhao Ziyang.) Deng was aware of the extraordinary economic progress of the neighbouring ‘Asian tigers’ (and especially aware of the contrast between China and Taiwan). Deng strongly believed in political stability and considered this a prerequisite of economic progress. He was inﬂuenced and personally affected by the anarchy of the Cultural Revolution. He lost positions of power in 1966 and 1976, making political ‘comebacks’ in 1973 and 1977. He did not become ‘paramount leader’ until his mid-seventies. He thought that calls for greater democracy and the student demonstrations of 1989 were a threat to stability and was ruthless in stamping them out. The goal [of the student protestors of Tiananmen] was to establish a bourgeois republic entirely dependent on the West. Of course we accept people’s demands to combat corruption . . . However, such slogans were just a front. The real aim was to overthrow the Communist Party and topple the socialist system. (June 1989) ‘We put down a counter-revolutionary rebellion’ (June 1989). The following quotations illustrate, among other things, Deng’s pragmatism. It does not matter whether a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice. (1961, in relation to agricultural reform) What do the people want from the Communist Party? First, to be liberated, and second to be made rich. (Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee, December 1978) If today we still do not set about the task of improving the socialist system, people will ask why it cannot solve problems which its capitalist counterpart can. (August 1980) We should let some people get rich ﬁrst, both in the countryside and in the urban areas. To get rich by hard work is glorious. (January 1983) Socialism must eliminate poverty. Poverty is not socialism. (June 1984) Development is the core truth. Fish grow in muddy waters. (1985)
China: a summary Our experience in the twenty years from 1958 to 1978 teaches us that poverty is not socialism. You cannot eat socialism. (1985) If you want to bring the initiative of the peasants into play, you should give them the power to make money. (October 1985) A planned economy does not necessarily imply socialism . . . a market economy does not necessarily imply capitalism. (1992) We in China are faced with the task of transforming our backwardness and catching up promptly with the advanced countries of the world. We want to learn from you. (1979)
(‘In early 1979 Deng Xiaoping was barnstorming America to celebrate the historic agreement normalizing relations between the countries. At a stop in suburban Atlanta Deng toured a Ford factory that made more cars in a single month than China produced in a year. Aware of his country’s economic inferiority, Deng . . . said he hoped to transform China into an industrial power by the distant year of 2000 . . . China manufactured 13,000 cars in 1979; last year  the number exceeded 5 million’: www.iht.com, 20 November 2005; IHT, 21 November 2005, p. 4.)
China after Deng Xiaoping There was something of a mild power struggle among Deng’s successors, but there was essentially continuity of policy. General secretary Jiang Zemin (12 October 1992): We must hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics . . . If we fail to develop our economy rapidly it will be very difﬁcult for us to consolidate the socialist system and maintain long-term stability . . . The goal is to build a socialist democracy suited to Chinese conditions and absolutely not a Western, multi-party, parliamentary system . . . [The development of a] socialist market economy [is the only way forward] . . . We are convinced that a market economy established under the socialist system can and should operate better than one under the capitalist system . . . [Macroeconomic levers should be the main means of control. The plan should, for example, set] strategic targets [include growth forecasts and deal with investment in the infrastructure. There should be an integrated national market with no regional protectionism]. (Jeffries 1993: 497) The leading personalities were the following: (1) Jiang Zemin, party leader and president (March 1993); he was described as the ‘core’ of the collective leadership (note the word ‘collective’) and he steadily consolidated his position (e.g. he was prominent during the October 1999 celebrations of the ﬁftieth anniversary of