Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

21
Oct

Is the China Model Better Than Democracy?

Written on October 21, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Democracy & Human Rights

Is the China Model Better Than Democracy?

On Oct. 15, Daniel A. Bell, the author of The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, sat on a panel hosted by Asia Society’s China File Presents series. The event, co-hosted by the New York Review of Books, also included panelists Timothy Garton Ash, Zhang Taisu, Andrew Nathan, and others, who discussed with Bell the question his book addresses — does China have an identifiable political model, and if so, what is it? The following ChinaFile conversation includes excerpts, edited for clarity, of that discussion.

Daniel A. Bell, chair professor of the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University in Beijing and director of the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center:

For much of Chinese imperial history, public officials were selected first by examination and then by performance evaluations at lower levels of government. The fascinating thing is that this system has been reestablished in form over the past 30 years in China — highly imperfectly, as we’ll see. When this idea hit me, I began writing op-eds, and I was severely criticized by my liberal friends and my Confucian friends who asked, “What’s happened to this guy? He’s become a staunch defender of the government.” But that’s not what I mean.

I call my method contextual political theory: the idea that a political theorist should aim to make coherent and rationally defensible the leading political ideals of a society. I happen to find myself in China, so what are the leading political ideals of Chinese society? I label it “vertical democratic meritocracy,” the ideal that has informed political reform in China over the past 30 years. But there is still a huge gap between the ideal and the practice. This ideal is good, at least reasonably good, and can and should continue to inspire political reform in China in the foreseeable future.

What is this idea of “vertical democratic meritocracy”? This is the idea that democracy works well at lower levels of government. This is a view that Western political theorists have argued, starting with Aristotle, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. If you have a small political community the issues are fairly easy to understand, and you know the moral character of the leaders you’re choosing, thus making a strong case for democracy at the lower level. But, in a huge country, as you go up the political chain of command, the issues become more complex and mistakes become more costly. Read more…

 

By Daniel A. Bell, Timothy Garton Ash, Andrew J. Nathan, Taisu Zhang; October 19, 2015; http://foreignpolicy.com

 

 

10
Sep

China’s impossible trinity

Written on September 10, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Global Economy, News

Chinese bank notes

This weekend’s meeting of the G20 group of countries sounded a relatively optimistic note on the global economy, in sharp contrast to the recent price falls in world asset markets.

So who is right: the markets or the ministers? The swing factor between a continuing stable but uninspiring global recovery and relapse into a global downturn is China.

The big question is: how steep is China’s economic slowdown? Those looking for an answer have pointed to China’s surprise decision to devalue its currency in early August.

Does this suggest that policy-makers are panicking and trying to boost exports?

The fundamental problem that China faces is that its economy is deeply unbalanced – both internally and externally – at a time that it is also slowing.

Economists tend to look at an economy for internal balance (a state of affairs in which neither employment nor inflation is too high or too low) and external balance (a situation in which a country’s current account (its borrowing or lending to the rest of the world) is neither too high nor too low.

China is currently struggling to achieve both kinds of balance.

Chinese policy-makers have a tricky task ahead but not unmanageable one.

It’s a challenge that could be made much easier by some global policy co-ordination and co-operation. Read more…

Published on Sept. 8th in http://www.bbc.com/

27
Aug

Why worries about China make sense

Written on August 27, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Financial crisis, Global Economy

James Ferguson illustration

I am neither intelligent enough to understand the behaviour of “Mr Market” — the manic-depressive dreamt up by investment guru, Benjamin Graham — nor foolish enough to believe I do. But he has surely been in a depressive phase. Behind this seem to be concerns about China. Is Mr Market right to be anxious? In brief, yes.

One must distinguish between what is worth worrying about and what is not. The decline of the Chinese stock market is in the second category. What is worth worrying about is the scale of the task confronting the Chinese authorities against their apparent inability to deal well with the bursting of a mere stock market bubble.

Stock markets have indeed been correcting, with the Chinese market in the lead. Between its peak in June and Tuesday, the Shanghai index fell by 43 per cent. Yet the Chinese stock market remains 50 per cent higher than in early 2014. The implosion of the second Chinese stock market bubble within a decade still seems unfinished. (See charts).

The Chinese market is not a normal one. Even more than most markets, this is a casino in which each player hopes to find a “greater fool” on whom to offload overpriced chips before it is too late. Such a market is bound to be extremely volatile. But its vagaries should tell one little about the wider Chinese economy.

Nevertheless, events in the Chinese market are of wider significance in two related ways. One is that the Chinese authorities decided to stake substantial resources and even their political authority on their (unsurprisingly unsuccessful) effort to stop the bubble’s collapse. The other is that they must have been driven to do so by concern over the economy. If they are worried enough to bet on such a forlorn hope, the rest of us should worry, too. Read more…

By Martin Wolf; Published on Aug. 25 in the Financial Times

13
Aug

Colonialism, Invasion, and Atomic Bombs: Asia’s Divergent Histories

On September 3 of each year, Chinese people celebrate their victory over Japan in the Pacific War, which ended in the summer of 1945. This year, which marks the 70th anniversary of that victory, the Chinese government has designated September 3—and the days before and after—a national holiday so that “all Chinese can join the celebration.” The government has also extended an invitation to the leaders of other countries, including North and South Korea, to attend their memorial military parade. However, although they too fought against the Japanese colonial power in the same war, Koreans celebrate the nation’s “day of liberation” from Japanese rule on August 15, not September 3.

For Japan, the day to commemorate (and not to celebrate) is August 6, the day that the U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. A memorial service honoring the victims of atomic bombs, along with a lantern floating ceremony, is held in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to bear wishes for lasting peace and harmony in the world. Meanwhile, the United States officially “remembers” only the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, holding an annual memorial parade and commemoration on December 7.

The above examples illustrate how differently the countries involved remember and revisit the memories of an unfortunate past marked by war and colonialism in the Asia-Pacific region. For Chinese and Koreans, Japanese acts of aggression, such as the Nanjing massacre, forced labor, and sexual slavery, are the most crucial in their memories of the war. Accordingly, it is only natural for Chinese to celebrate their victory over Japan and for Koreans to celebrate the day on which they regained national sovereignty from the “vicious” Japanese colonial power. Read more…

20
Mar

Written by Meghan O´Farrell, IE Master in International Relations Student, 2014/2015 Intake 

2. Mario Esteban

For IE Professor and China expert Mario Esteban, moving to the other end of the world is eventually what led him right back home. What started as an interest in China and Chinese culture grew into something much bigger and took him places, both literally and figuratively, few Spaniards have been. He has since emerged as one of Spain’s leading China experts with a mastery of the language and unique cultural and political perspective of the rising global powerhouse, granting him the opportunity to introduce Spain, the country he calls home, to China, the country he grew to love.

Mario was raised in Getafe, on the outskirts of Spain’s capital city, in a house only 5 minutes away from where he currently lives with his wife and children, ages 2 and 5. His family was working class- his mother was a housewife and his father was a blue-collar worker in the Airbus factory. 25 years ago, a sizeable Chinese population had yet to take root in Spain. However, he traces his interest in China back to his childhood precisely when China was just a place most Spaniards read about in books. Like so many other children, Mario practiced martial arts and became intrigued by Asian culture. He also befriended a young Chinese boy who sat next to him in primary school, exposing Mario to his first brush with Chinese culture when going to play at his friend’s house.

As a junior in high school, Mario found his way to Middlebury College in Vermont on a French language scholarship. But 10 days alone in New York City made it very clear that, although a strong Chinese presence hadn’t quite yet arrived to Spain, Chinese people were numerous and thriving in other major cities around the world. “I got the feeling that the Chinese were on their way to Spain. This was a huge window of opportunity to merge teaching and research with Chinese culture. First it was an interest, then it became a career move. So as soon as I got back to Madrid, I started learning Mandarin.”

Read more…

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