Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, January 12, 2015

Crystal ball for China

2015 has arrived in China. It matters to more than the Chinese people. Rule of law or ideology? Innovation and censorship? International cooperation or confrontation?

This future is told by Carrie Grace, BBC China editor.

What's in store for China in 2015?
Economic Reform:

After postponing the pain in 2014, reform is the white knuckle ride for the year ahead.

Beijing says addiction to growth driven by industrial exports, infrastructure and real estate has to stop.

Growth will be slower and in order to be better, state-owned enterprises running on empty must be dismantled, and private enterprise has to provide the jobs instead, especially in the service sector and even if that means foreign enterprise…

Politics and anti-corruption

With the graft busters moving into top state institutions, expect new revelations and a steady stream of investigations and court appearances.

But everyone knows corruption is entrenched in the system so who ends up wearing the handcuffs is about politics…

Also watch how he tackles the Party's existential challenge: building a governing culture based on an incentive structure other than greed.

As part of this, think ideology.

The unapologetic authoritarians will be highly visible and vocal in 2015, filling the airwaves with a narrative that meshes Marxism and Confucianism, insisting the Chinese Communist Party is more democratic than the West because it rules on behalf of everyone, like the good emperors of old who ruled for "all under heaven"…

Whenever the game requires deep pockets, staying power and affordable engineering, China's strengths will be apparent.

In 2015, its ambition and confidence in delivering huge infrastructure projects will be felt around the globe; from a high speed rail network in Nigeria to a canal across Nicaragua.

But the single-mindedness that works in some conditions turns to damaging rigidity in others.

In 2015, no Chinese citizen will be allowed an independent voice on anything which the Communist Party declares off limits…

Watch for universities in Europe and North America allowing Confucius Institutes funded by the Chinese government to impose restrictions on debate, watch for Hollywood studios making adjustments to movies to satisfy Chinese film censors and for internet companies bowing to Beijing's sensitivities on search results and social media posts…

2014 ended with a growing blacklist of celebrities who are now barred from appearing on national media as a result of convictions for taking drugs or visiting prostitutes.

But here too lies a contradiction: China's media and entertainment are increasingly market driven...
International relations and economics

Despite being described by the IMF as the world's biggest economy, with not just its own 1.3 billion citizens but so many livelihoods all over the world depending on China's direction, decision making at the top of the Chinese Communist Party is as unknowable as ever.

75 years ago, Churchill said of Russia, It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

He might well say the same of China today.

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