China_on_the_Rise - The University of Chicago Magazine...

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The University of Chicago Magazine About the Magazine | Advertising | Archives | Contact :: By Richard Mertens :: Photography provided by Corbis Features :: China on the Rise China s success story has reached a pivotal chapter. What does it mean for the rest of the world? Wang Guangya, China s representative to the United Nations, is a small, dignified man, his mild, inoffensive manner perfectly pitched to the reassuring message that China tries to communicate to a world jittery over its growing economic power. Of all things, nothing is more desirable than harmony and peace, Wang told a Chicago audience this April, invoking Confucian principles to explain why his country posed a threat to no one. In case anyone doubted his meaning, he went further, predicting an era of harmony between man and nature and among mankind. A Chinese official in America these days finds himself inevitably on the defensive. China s remarkable growth, now in its third decade, has lifted millions out of poverty, transformed the world economy, and restored pride to a people who just a few decades ago were entrenched in backwardness and poverty. But that rise has also raised hard questions about the country s future. Can China sustain its growth? Or will internal contradictions, such as a growing gap between rich and poor, cause it to stumble? How will democracy fare in an authoritarian state that has embraced the free market but still crushes political dissent? Most of all, what does China s growing economic muscle portend for its future on the world stage? In the United States, China s rise has caused deep anxiety not only about the costs for American jobs and industry but also about the political and military consequences. Will its rise be peaceful or violent? Will it produce closer ties with the United States or confrontation? Despite Ambassador Wang s assurances, U.S. officials are not so sure. Many Americans, and even many people in Washington, have not made up their minds about what China means, Christopher Hill, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told the same Chicago audience. What is China going to be? People are very curious. China is a bit of a mystery to many Americans, just as Americans are a bit of a mystery for China. Wang and Hill were among a score of scholars and government officials who gathered at International House for a two-day conference, organized by the student-run Chicago Society, to help demystify China. If the conference s title, China and the Future of the World, seemed ambitious, it may not have (1 of 7) [8/28/2008 3:07:28 PM]
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The University of Chicago Magazine been ambitious enough. As Ted Fishman, author of China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World, told the group, he abandoned a book project about the new world economy to write about China, only to discover that the story of China was the story of the world. Such
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China_on_the_Rise - The University of Chicago Magazine...

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