The Rise of China and the Age of Transition.doc - The Rise of China and the Age of Transition Dr Minqi Li Assistant Professor Department of Economics

The Rise of China and the Age of Transition.doc - The Rise...

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The Rise of China and the Age of TransitionDr. Minqi Li, Assistant ProfessorDepartment of Economics, University of UtahPaper prepared for Das Argument0
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The Rise of China?China is now emerging as a major player in the capitalist world economy. In term ofpurchasing power parity, China is now already the second largest economy in theworld, behind the United States. In 2002, China accounted for 17.5 percent of theworld economic growth and 60 percent of the world exports growth. China is said tobecome the workshop of the world, the major platform of world manufacturingexports in the 21st century.China’s rising importance in the capitalist world economy raises several interesting,important questions. First, there is the question how China’s internal social structureis likely to be transformed as China assumes different positions in the existing worldsystem. According to one point of view, as China plays an increasingly active role inthe capitalist world economy, China is likely to become increasingly “modernized”and “developed,” and it is only a matter of time China becomes a stable, materiallyabundant, and overwhelmingly “middle class” society.For example, between 1999-2001, a special research group of the Chinese Academyof Social Sciences, under the direct instruction of the highest leadership of theChinese Communist Party, conducted a research on the “evolution of thecontemporary social structure” in China. The research group predicts that “as Chinaexperiences industrialization, informationalization, and urbanization, the middle stratawill keep growing, and eventually become the most important, most stabilizing socialforces within the modernized Chinese structure of social strata.” (CASS 2001 and2002)Secondly, there is the question if China is “rising,” that is, if it is moving upwardswithin the hierarchy of the existing world system, how will other peripheral or semi-peripheral countries be affected? On this question, the size of China is of particularimportance. The capitalist world system is an unequal, hierarchical system in which1
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wealth and power have always been concentrated on the top. Given the structure ofthe existing world system, the rise of China, given China’s enormous size, cannot buthave to have serious implications for other peripheral and semi-peripheral countries?Thirdly, there is the question whether China will become the next hegemonic power.If the 20th century was said to be the “American Century,” will the 21st century turnout to be the “Century of China”? In Chaos and Governance in the Modern WorldSystem (1999), Giovanni Arrighi places much hope on the renaissance of the Chinesecivilization. Arrighi hopes that the reemerging China-centered civilization wouldprovide system-level solutions to the system-level problems left behind by the U.S.
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