Napoleon predicted that in China’s awakening, the world would shake. One century later, Kaiser William warned people against what he considered to be “the yellow threat.” After almost two centuries of humiliations from Western powers, China emerges as a great power that is called to co-preside the destiny of the planet before a decade’s time. Journalist Georgina Higueras describes this process in her formidable book, “China, the Dragon’s Revenge.”
China is the only country who has had an average yearly economic growth of 8 percent over a period if 25 years. This economic miracle becomes stronger due to the influence that its surrounding countries have.
In 1979 China started its second revolution which was marked by an economic pragmatism and the transit towards capitalism, and by the permanence of the Communist Party’s centralist structure.
China stands out as one of the most important growing poles not only of Asia, but of the rest of the world. It is already the sixth economy of the world behind France and, by 2015, it will have surpassed Japan. In a decade it will be the second economic power, after the United States.
The country has 11 percent of the world’s stock reserves, with more than 260 billion dollars. It can buy anything and influence other countries’ economies. It has multiplied by five its foreign exchange with exports that represent 4 percent of the world’s total and in 2002 foreign investment was about 60 million dollars.
Deng Xiaoping, who died in 1997, ended the Marxist ideology that governed the country since 1949. He did it with the renowned phrase: “it’s good to become rich.”
The economy’s transformation changes the social model of a 5,000 year-old society with more than 1.3 billion people that are still controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. In the Summit celebrated in 2002, the first pacific transition in the history of the Chinese Communists took place. There were no purges or firings. Jiang Zemin and the remaining members of the Political Bureau’s Permanent Committee gave away their positions to the “fourth generation” of leaders.
China is considered to be on of the world economy’s motors and the machine that can impede with its dragging strength that the world goes into recession. Its youngsters return by the thousands from the most prestigious Western universities to incorporate themselves to that economic miracle, which represents a unique phenomenon because they know that social development will transform power structures.
Former president of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, who commanded an anti-communist regime that made possible one of the highest income rates per capita in the world for his country, said that China “is so big and so diverse of a country that it will be capable of producing shoes, high-tech electronic devices, telecommunications and the cheapest chips of the world at the same time because it counts with a never ending labor force and a great formation capacity.”
The anxiety of discovering what is further away from the Great Wall becomes evident with the 50 million Internet users in China. It is a double-edged weapon because it is a basic instrument for commercial activities that can also become a subversive agent with its 400,000 sites in Chinese. The government urged the Internet industry to commit not to publish or disseminate information on the web “pernicious information that can harm the security of the State, shatter social stability or material that is obscene or superstitious.” A wise decision because through the opening towards new horizons structures and institutions can be transformed before they become obsolete.
Higueras writes, “The miracle of the economic growth has taken place at the expense of millions of workers who find themselves without the protection that the State used to give them: job security, retirement funds, housing, medical services, education and other social benefits. In front of this situation, the Party won’t have other remedy than to modify part of its gigantic investments in infrastructures and development to canalize them towards the creation of a social security system that can protect as many people as possible.”
It is precise to overcome the nostalgia of Maoist and the so-called iron bowl times that gave everyone an everyday ration. The Asian giant must adapt to new realities and maintain the social balance that is so traditional in its vision of the world and its History to plunge into meaningful reforms; not only economic reforms, but also social and political ones.
The spirit of students massacred by the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 seems to sprout with the impulse of the ten thousand flowers.
Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez