Contemporary China

Short Essay 1

Introduction

From the historical perspective, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution were first used as a campaign by the communist party of China under the leadership of Mao Zedong (History - Mao Zedong 2). According to Mao Zedong, the campaign was intended to revolutionize the country from the contemporary status of poverty into an agrarian economy that would outdo other powerful economies such as the United States. The economic and social status of China before the introduction of the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution was not desirable. The Great Leap Forward campaign, from the historical point of view, was developed to stabilize the country so that in the 1980s, it would be in a position to sufficiently produce food, manufacture quality products and compete with the dominant economies ("The Great Leap Forward" 7). Varied arguments have emerged supporting and incriminating the entire campaign because of its possibly adverse outcomes. This essay intends to analyze the historical context of China and utilizes it to establish a reliable argument regarding the importance of the campaign for the Chinese people.

The Review of the Statement that Disregards the Great Leap Forward

It is indisputable that China went through a very challenging experience that is believed to have resulted in the establishment of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution campaign ("Great Leap Forward (1958-1961)" 4). A series of political decisions overcame the need to use common sense when running the project about which most citizens had high hopes. An enormous amount of material or products that were developed in haste did not meet the expected standards. For instance, farm machinery that was manufactured quickly fractured even before serving its purpose. Furthermore, thousands of workers were injured as they fell asleep during working hours. Later, in the years 1960 and 1962, low quality food production led to massive deaths of approximately 9 million people due to starvation. However, it would be irrational to judge the campaign and Mao Zedong who spearheaded it. Instead, it would be rational to look at the issues from the historical perspective.

Historical Perspective

It is not necessary to conduct full analysis of the myriad of decades before the introduction of the campaign by the communist party under Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong’s era commenced in 1949 after his government took over control of the Chinese territory ("Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution" 1). However, before 1950, the Chinese were renowned for the fact they were part of the Feud system. Following the collapse of Qing Dynasty, there were a series of warlords who controlled China. As such, China fell victim to civil wars, after which Japan invaded China during the World War II (Dongping). Poverty during these centuries was intensive to the magnitude that most Chinese citizens in the rural areas were in debt to the land owners.

As a result, there was a large economic gap between the rich and the poor. Similarly, people did not enjoy any form of justice. Restrictions fostered on the poor were reinforced in the form of public sessions as well as social pressure. It means that the people of rural areas had a very had time surviving the pressures from the leadership of warlords. Hence, their economic status deteriorated gradually.

Understanding the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution

With the consideration of the abovementioned facts about the Chinese history before Mao Zedong’s era, it is rational to take time to understand the arguments for the campaign. Initially, the Chinese were at liberty to discuss and argue about the best ways of conduct after the communes were formed ("Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution" 8). Resultantly, the country registered a change in food production. For instance, in 1958, the country enjoyed substantial harvest despite the critics claiming that the statistics provided by the government about 260 million tons of food harvest was inaccurate ("The Great Leap Forward" 9). The country was also in a position to manufacture huge amounts of steel despite the fact that some of it did not satisfy the required standards for construction purposes. 

Conclusion

This aftermath can be attributed to the poor follow-up and management of the projects initiated in line with the campaign. For instance, poor quality of products must have resulted from poor management of capital, including human resources. The central idea of the campaign was to alleviate poverty even amongst the people from the rural areas. Therefore, Mao Zedong’s idea was to revolutionize the agricultural sector and the industrial sector to a competitive level. Mao Zedong’s perception that agricultural and industrial sectors would develop together was rational, since the country had already set the pace for development. However, the political leaders of his government were guided by selfish interests during the projects. They refused to engage in consensus with those who supervised the projects, which caused the campaign to fail. Poor yield of the farming products could be attributed to the change in weather and floods. As a result, all these factors should be considered when seeking understanding of the campaign.

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Short Essay 2

Introduction

The role of the government in stabilizing the economic status of the society has been a contentious issue not only in China, but in the rest of the world as well. However, China has its own story regarding how well or poorly the government has performed in this context. A series of economists and scholars have made assessment and inferences regarding Chinese government and its role in ensuring that democracy prevails. Such prominent Chinese economists as Wu Jinglian and Lin Yifu have contributed arguments regarding the priority and roles of the government and democracy (Osnos 30). Furthermore, a renowned Chinese writer Yu Hua used his scholarly work China in Ten Words to describe the history and experiences of the Chinese nation using personal encounters in the form of case study. Thus, this essay intends to determine the extent to which Wu Jinglian’s and Lin Yifu’s arguments regarding the government’s democratic priorities were in accordance with Yu Hua’s experiences as recorded in his book.

Lin Yifu’s Views

Lin, in his capacity as a chief economist and a former senior vice president of the World Bank, proposes a distinct argument regarding the role of government in the market-related activities. Particularly, Lin is an avid supporter of the perspective that the government should intervene in the market. He attempts to support his argument with the Keynesian concept associated with global policy coordination (Yuqian 3). According to Lin, the government’s participation in the development of any sector results in more costs as compared to the benefits. However, he assumes that the failure to include the government in the context of coordinating economic activities is likely to cause increased costs as compared to the situation when the government intervenes. Instead, he advises that it is the role of economists to help the government take appropriate actions.

Wu Jinglian’s Views

Wu, on the other hand, uses his experience of state control of economies across the Asian and Western countries resulting in different outcomes ("Wu Jinglian: China’s Social and Economic Conflicts Are Close to Critical Point" 4). Arguably, he also supports government which is the key player in the coordination of economic activities of the country. However, the difference between his argument and that of Lin is in the extent to which the government should intervene. First, besides the fact that the state has a responsibility to promote rationality in the economy, it has to act indirectly. It means that the government is only required to interfere when there are low levels of market growth. According to him, the government should control the industries through the central bank where it coordinates credit activities through the relevant activities ("Wu Jinglian: Fast-Track China Is on the Wrong Path" 6). He believes that the direct control of business activities by the state is likely to lead to inconsistencies in the market.

The Analysis of Yu Hua’s Arguments in Relations to Lin’s And Wu’s Perspectives

Yu Hua uses the history of China, the Cultural Revolution, the social-political environment, economic trends and personal life experiences to write a book describing China in ten words (Hua 15). He believes that there is a huge difference between the contemporary China and that during Mao Zedong’s era. He narrates that three decades after the direction of Mao Zedong towards serving people has been proposed, the modern Chinese society can be characterized by economic disparity, corruption, and injustice. He attributes the devastating economic system of China to the Chinese government. The state has total control over the economic activities of the nation. Yu Hua believes that most sectors of the economy suffer from discrepancies that are associated with the ill-fated intervention of the government. Arguably, Yu Hua uses ten words to demonstrate the elements that are affected by the irrational intervention of the state in China.

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After the comparison of Yu’s perspective and the arguments of Wu Jinglian and Lin Yifu, it is clear that Yu agrees more with Wu Jinglian than Lin Yifu. Yu, in his narrative, condemns the poor approach of the government in its endeavors to intervene within the social and economic sectors of the region (Hua 21). He believes the reason lies in an intensive and direct link between the government and the economic sector in China. Lin seems to support direct intervention by the government as far as the economic activities are concerned. However, Wu argues that it would be inappropriate for the state to exercise a direct influence on the direction of the economy. Instead, he believes that it is only right for the government to intervene through the particular channels, such as the banking sector or the central bank. What is more, it should only intervene when the need arises. Therefore, Yu is likely to support Wu’s argument, which discourages direct state participation in the economic activities.

Conclusion

It is indisputable that the Chinese government considers it important to control all sectors without having to use indirect means of regulation. As a result, the people, according to Lin, end up getting hurt (Hua 21). After all, the ultimate outcomes include economic despair and huge gaps between the wealthy and the poor. Any economist who supports a system where the government’s participation in economy should be indirect wins the sympathy of Lin, especially regarding Yu Hua’s arguments in the book China in Ten Words.

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