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Assess the domestic impact of Chinas economic development.

Since the opening up of China in 1978, economic development has brought wealth
to the country, resulting in domestic transformation of the Chinese society, culture
and politics. The shift from command to the market economy in China led to
fundamental changes in the mindset, system and practices of its people, given that
they have formerly adhered to communist ideology. This essay seeks to argue that
the domestic impact of Chinas economic development is highly diverse in nature as
the influx of wealth and rapid development has led to paradoxical situations within
the Chinese state.
On one hand in social terms, economic development which resulted in rapid
urbanization had invariably changed Chinas social demographics. Dengs economic
liberalization resulted in opening up of coastal cities, the establishment and
expansion of other urban centers to greater trade and commerce. More Chinese
also migrated from rural to urban areas in search of better livelihoods. These have
caused the transformation of Chinese family structure as most who lived in the
cities would prefer to have nuclear families over extended ones. Hectic city life also
resulted in more late marriages, higher divorce rate and more people choosing to
remain single. Coupled with the One Child Policy, and changing Chinese values birth
rate has dropped and the Chinese population is rapidly aging. This trend has
become irreversible as more than half of the Chinese population are living in cities
today, adopting new social perceptions and leading modern lifestyles, comparable
to other foreign cities, such as Bangkok and Seoul.
On the other, many inland rural regions still remain relatively unaffected. Inland
provinces such as Gansu and Qinghai are relatively intact from modern influences
which impacted mostly coastal cities. Villages in the countryside are still staunchly
adhering to traditional agrarian lifestyle. For example, women are still discriminated
in many of these places and families would prefer boys over girls. Traditional values
like concern for ones family surname are still practiced. Foreign influences
concerning entertainment and modern values could not reach the countryside due
to poor transportation and communication. Even when they do in some places,
minority groups treat them with hostility and see it as just another of the
governments attempt to infiltrate their natural culture. Furthermore, many rural
folks continue to worship Mao and his ideology. Many are alien to the new culture
and values that struck coastal cities.
Culturally, improved status of individual has due to rising affluence and better
education as a result of Chinas economic development has led to the rise of a class
of well-to-do Chinese that are more exposed to the global culture. Over 50% of
China population earn at least 6000yuan per month and are considered the middle
class. Increase in income has allowed them to be the major consumer of foreign
products and services. The proliferation of outlets of top-end luxurious foreign
companies from the US and the European countries like Zara, Prada and Gucci is a
testimony of this. Being well-travelled and better-informed, the middle class of
China has spearheaded even more social trends such as the influx of cultures and
lifestyles beyond the countries. This group of Chinese also includes artists and
prominent intellectuals like Ai Wei Wei. They are the critiques of a contemporary
Chinese society and the creators of future social trends making its impact extensive.

The middle class communicates among themselves through modern media like Wei
Bo and Ren Ren and disseminates ideas like environmentalism and human rights
that even the authoritarian government found it hard to control.
However, economic development also has the reverse impact of heightening
Chinese awareness of their traditional roots and attaching the Chinese to them.
Greater national confidence as a result of the successful economic development,
expansion of Chinas prestige and the search for cultural identity amidst the influx
of globalization has led to the revival of traditional Chinese culture. Chinese
traditional culture formerly suppressed under Mao, is revived by the state to
promote nationalism, social stability and cohesion. One of such example is the
subliminal promotion of Confucianism that is evident in Hu Jing Taos policies of
developing a harmonious society and a harmonious world. The deviation from
Marxist theories and the need to learn from the experiences of others rekindled the
interest in ancient philosophy. Chinese New Year, ancestor worship, Qing Ming and
moon cake festivals are now practiced under official encouragement.
Politically, by bringing in prosperity for the people, economic development has
enhanced the standing of CCP in the country and has allowed them to have the
mandate from the people to rule largely unchallenged and without popular
opposition. Just like prosperity and abundance of food and clothing represent the
Mandate of Heaven that had authorised Emperors in the past to rule over its people,
economic prosperity has been the line of defence for CCP that have made it possible
for a large majority of the people to stay at least passively acceptant of CCPs
authoritarian rule. Due to the success of CCP at developing Chinas economy,
standards of living for both the rural residents and the urbanites have vastly and
greatly improved. Since Chinas opening up, 400million people have been lifted out
of poverty. In just 2003 alone, in spite of the outbreak of SARS, 13million jobs were
created. Real income for rural residents grew by 4.3%. CCP, with its promise of
people-centred development to the country, has been able to gain the continual
support of the people to unite with it in spurring the Chinese economy. 20.95trillion
yuan raked in in 2006 shows that CCP has been successful at uniting the people
through economic development, and at the same time safeguard its legitimacy as
people are kept content with the status quo. The economic successes of the CCP
have caused the emergence of a middle class in China that largely supports the CCP
for fear of rocking the boat of prosperity. Over 50% of China population earn at least
6000yuan per month and are considered the middle class.
However, dire consequences of economic development also have the counter-effect
of weakening CCPs legitimacy. China has been plagued by social ills that are byproducts of its economic reforms. Economic transformation has resulted in serious
environmental degradation detrimental to the health and social stability of China.
Economic success coupled with unequal development has also exacerbated
socioeconomic inequalities. Market reforms have also accentuated dissents against
CCP regime as more political challenges began to surface. The prevalence and
rampancy of corruption that have arisen out of Chinas economic success are rooted
in Chinas partially reformed economy and absence of genuine political reforms. For
many years, Beijing, for fear of undermining the supremacy ruling party has lacked
the political will to act against top level party officials and this has encouraged
rampant level of corruption in a patron-client structural relationship. The recent Bo

Xilai saga is a good example: Credibility of governing institutions was critically


undermined; public resentment was fuelled; massive economic distortions were
resulted; and needlessly, CCPs legitimacy was challenged.
Inadequacy of economic development at justifying CCPs authoritarian rule has
resulted in the addition of other pillars of legitimacy. The amount of money through
corruption scandals has risen exponentially since the 1980s. The absence of
competitive political process and free press make it such that the even the public
sector is susceptible to fraud, thefts, kickbacks and bribery. The direct cost of
corruption on the economy amount to as much as 86billion yuan each year. The
need for foreign investors to risk environmental and human rights, and financial
liabilities to compete against Chinese rivals who engage in illegal practices and the
proliferations of scandals of poisoned food and faulty products often caused by poor
quality control processes serve as a disincentive for foreign investors to invest in
China. Few western companies are willing to transfer their advance technology to
China for fear of patent rights infringement by unscrupulous Chinese companies,
which have the backing of corrupted officials. As such, other pillars of legitimacy like
nationalism, civil governance and populism were added to support CCPs legitimacy.
However, with economic development, modifying the ideological justification of
CCPs legitimacy becomes all the more important as the country deviates from the
state ideology. The adoption of new party statutes and state constitution with
modification to the state ideology such as Dengs socialism with Chinese
characteristics, Hus harmonious society, and the scientific concept of development
while carefully adjusting the role of international class struggle as the latter is
increasingly contradicted by the direction of Chinas economic development.
In conclusion, the domestic impact of economic development is indeed extensive be
it socially, culturally or politically. However it has also give rise to paradoxical
situations within the Chinese state further bringing contrast to an already highly
heterogeneous society. Therefore, the domestic impact of Chinas economic
development is highly diverse.