Wednesday, 26 August 2009

"A person who stands under someone else's roof must bow his head."

I’ve developed an interest over the last six months or so in China for a variety of different reasons, but I suppose really; its political and economic system interests me the most particularly the part it plays in world affairs. So for the next month or so I’m going to write about Chain occasionally and try to build a picture of what I think is modern day Chain; who are its people and how do they live in the 21 century.

The first thing that comes into my head when thinking about China is the seen of that young man; a protester who stood in the way of an advancing row of tanks in Tiananmen Square on 5 June 1989. And my second image is of James Bond darting around in some secret underground location trying to save the world from the Red Army and its collaboration with some international criminal. Not a very good knowledgeable understanding of a country that has the largest population in the world a staggering 1.31 billion people.

So what I’m going to do is look at and examine the structure that is the ‘People’s Republic of China’ or to use its native name ‘Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo’.

Between 1 and 3 per cent of the Chinese population control 70 per cent of all financial Wealth. In an article in the Financial Times it reported that China’s middle class (a description I don’t care for) dose not like or need what the west calls democracy, they are the most privileged 15 per cent of the population. And they would, in fact be quite concerned that if you had a democracy in China, as thay fear they would be outvoted by the lower classes.

“Most people in the Chinese middle class are complicit in this in the name of preserving social stability, as long as opportunities for money-making and wallowing in nationalist pride keep on thriving.” Pranab Bardhan F T 22/8/2008

According to the National Geographic Magazine the past decade has seen the rise of something Mao sought to stamp out forever: a Chinese middle class now estimated to number between 100 million and 150 million people. Though definitions vary—household income of at least $10,000 a year is one standard—middle-class families tend to own an apartment and a car, to eat out and take vacations, and to be familiar with foreign brands and ideas. They owe their well-being to the government's economic policies that has embraced the market and western style capitalism whilst at the same time holding on to an authoritarian style dictatorship.

In terms of unemployment official statistics are not reliable. But, basically, throughout the 1990s, 70 to 80 per cent of the state industrial sector was privatized. And as a result between 30 million and 60 million workers lost jobs. This came as 100 million to 200 million migrant workers from the rural areas moved to the urban sector typically working in sweet shop conditions; that has provided us in the west with cheep consumer goods.

To be continued ….

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