China and the Neo-Liberalism

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The current political and economic systems that underly international relations have fostered a sink or swim environment for those who strive for dominance. China’s rapid rise to economic rivalry is a direct result of the benefits of participating in the neoliberal system. By reforming their economy to better participate in the capitalistic global market, an ascendant China has reshaped its identity in the shadow of the Communist party. The growth China has experienced in the last decades demonstrates not only the allure of liberalist ideology, but also how liberalism has made itself nearly inescapable on the world stage.

Following multiple widespread famines and political strife, the death of Mao Zedong left those leading China with a chance to push the country in a new direction. Previously, Mao had strove for industrialization with as little dependency on the outside world as possible. “This once again plunged China into a series of food crisis, which led China towards the path of Comprehensive Economic Reform starting in 1978” (Hou 2011, 2). As China failed to achieve the urbanization and wealth of its Asian neighbors, the prospect of participating in the global marketplace seemed necessary. This paradigm shift is reflective of how liberalism has come to shape the modern era by becoming a de facto necessity. China recognized that in order to build itself up, it needed to forgo pieces of its ideology for the sake of progress, thus sacrificing communistic idealism for perceived developmental gains.

This concession proved to work very well as China began to run with its economic development the more it began to prescribe to ideas of free trade and foreign investments. As it relates to liberalism, the power of the global economy has become so strong that nations who wanted any chance to catch up to the leading powers have hardly any other option but to join the system. The consequence that underpins this is placing economic dependencies outside of your own borders. This is a facet of liberalism that makes it so powerful. If China would have continued to resist it, it is hard to imagine that the trajectory the country was on under Mao would have matched their rapid economic development of, “… a record setting rate of 10% annually since the launching of reforms in 1978.” (Lin 2000, 1). Consequentially, China has entangled themselves in the politics of global cooperation underpinned by finance, a position very difficult to leave without destroying their economy.

The modern-day implications of this can be seen in a variety of Chinese political decisions. The territorial issues surrounding Taiwan serve as a good model for how liberalism’s inherent interdependency helps to prevent conflict. China has a realistically easy plight in retaking the island they have claimed sovereignty over for decades, however, the fear that such militaristic actions could crumble their growth or stifle their markets and investments has continued to keep the move too politically risky for China. As put in a recent analysis of the situation, “As a result, the two economies are now in a deep, wide ranging relationship of ‘asymmetric interdependence,’ in which each side relies on the other for important contributions to its economy” (Shlapak 2009, 9). The gradual growth of China’s private sector has proved massively beneficial to the country’s economic success, with e-commerce giant Alibaba rivaling Amazon in the neoliberal world of online retail (Mourdoukoutas 2018).

These examples would have been unthinkable during the rule of Mao Zedong yet have slowly found their way into Chinese society such that it has repeatedly been in China’s best interest to support them. Conversely, the Chinese government faces the beginnings of dependency on its private sector, another unheard-of precedent for the rapidly evolving command economy; “They are crucial for Beijing because such firms are seen as more efficient users of capital, in sharp contrast with the inefficient state-owned sector” (Yao 2016). Ultimately, these changes have only thrust China closer to their goal of being a fully developed nation capable of rivaling the other major world players, and there is very little indication that they will be stopping as the present neoliberal climate continues to incentivize their continued expansions.

China’s continued growth will keep the world watching, yet fears that this could be militaristically dangerous need to be taken with the fact that much of China’s growth is tied into the continued success of the global market, and, as China has grown, so has the list of liberal institutions it participates in. A significant institution China has a presence in is the WTO, representing a commitment to a form of continued participation in the global economy. When and if China reaches its goal of being fully developed by 2049, it is safe to say that it will most likely be fully globalized as well. This roadmap for the success of a major country from stark Marxist ideals into a major neoliberal player will continue to influence other industrializing nations.

To conclude, China’s cultural and societal transformation is a demonstration of the undeniable influence of liberalism. For nations seeking to industrialize and become a genuine force in the global arena, participation on some level is not only attractive, but nearly unavoidable seeing as it is much of the world’s economic and political status quo.

Cite this paper

China and the Neo-Liberalism. (2021, Aug 13). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/china-and-the-neo-liberalism/

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