While the modern history of China extends to 1912, the history of China and its people extends for over two thousand years under dynastic rule. Today, China is a mix of ethnic groups and various linguistic dialects.
China is the second largest country in Asia, following Russia, and is considered the third largest in the world. It borders fourteen (14) nations, including the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Union of Myanmar, Republic of India, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Russian Federation, and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. As of 1999, China had 1.2591 billion people, equating to 22% of the world’s population. China produces approximately one third of the world’s steel and aluminum. China is a global leader in manufacturing and maintains a trade surplus allowing us to purchase reserves of foreign currency in addition to foreign debt. China’s explosive economic security and military capacities also contribute to its systemic resources.
Inner Workings of China
The People’s Republic of China is a socialist republic established as a successor state to the Republic of China in 1949. The Communist Party of China (CPC or CCP) has the people’s authority under the 1982 Constitution, as amended, to represent China and appoint the nation’s government officials in a vast bureaucracy that operates on national, provincial, and local levels. The current President of the People’s Republic of China is Hu Jintao, the core of the fourth generation of China’s leaders. The National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee appoint the Premier and other members of the State Council, or the Central People’s Government, the chief administrative authority. President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao have worked to improve the expectations of leaders in the PRC, building a contingency that is reliable, competent, clean, and honest. The CPC is closely aligned at all levels and treats all political maneuvering as state secret. The government maintains certain restrictions in media, politics, population growth, and religion for the good of the people. However, the PRC’s current administrative climate is much less restrictive than the closed door policies during the mid 1970’s after several reforms were instituted to advance our nation and its people. China is committed to expanding and improving the standard of living for its entire population.
The PRC is perceived as an ascending power due to the great economic development and diplomatic relationships formed all over the world since the 1950’s. The PRC takes pride in participating in national forums by first listening to issues raised by other countries, and then speaks in a manner consistent with its foreign policy, capturing the thrust of developing world goals. The PRC is focused on a peaceful rise with regard for how to use its influence in other countries. China is the “first stop” for American diplomacy concerning relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Sudan, and the Union of Myanmar. The PRC is an emerging global power that attempts to harness internal energies and prevent domestic conflict. At times, the PRC is criticized by foreign governments over perceived human rights violations associated with criminal matters such as leading the world in capital punishment in 2004, and allegations of lengthy detentions without trials, forced confessions and torture, and restrictions on freedoms of its people. A nation as populous as China is expected to have a slower justice system and higher numbers with regards to capital punishment. China is also not the only nation in the world that is facing allegations of human rights violations, but is one of the few seeking to curb actual violations. The PRC’s standard of living for its people continues to improve and freedoms continue to expand as Hu Jintao’s agenda for a Harmonious Society is completed while maintaining China’s economic growth in a sustainable fashion.
China’s Economy: Breathing Fire
The Chinese economy has shown unprecedented growth over the past decade, averaging about 10% in growth per year. 1 Due to the massive growth of the Chinese economy, the Chinese Government and Chinese Communist Party have developed a more robust foreign policy to match the growing importance of China in world affairs. China’s main foreign policy objective is the continuation of the Friendly China Policy2, involving the opening of Chinese embassies in over 160 nations to encourage friendly relations with as many neighbors and states as possible. China also seeks to ever increase its trade relations with other nations, annually exporting over $974 billion USD worth of goods and services. China enjoys most favored nation status as a valued trading partner with many states, including the United States of America. Additionally, China is engaged in many regional conferences, including the Southeast Asian Trade Organization (SEATO), the East Asian Conference (EAC), Asian Pacific Economic Conference (APEC), and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and is looking to become a regional leader within those organizations to foster friendly and profitable trading relationships. Perhaps most important of all, China became an active member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.
The most pressing issue presented by the international community is the valuation of China’s currency. The US and the European Union have pressured China to revalue its currency to a perceived fairer rate rather than the set rate it stands at now which has been alleged to make Chinese firms unfairly competitive on the international market.3
China enjoys a relatively rich environment of resources to employ in its constant rate of growth. China has deposits of coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, and hydropower. These resources provide China with a stable base to construct infrastructure and produce consumer goods. The extensive coal reserves provide a means of inexpensive power for factories and the increasing emphasis on environmentally friendly power has led the Government to invest in hydropower. The largest project in this endeavor is the construction of the Three Gorges Dam which will be the largest supplier of hydropower on the planet.
China’s capacity to produce goods at inexpensive prices has allowed a positive trade balance and an ability to use the surplus within the budget to further the economic goals of the nation. An increase in military spending has allowed the Government to begin to modernize the military, bringing it up to international superpower standards. The extra resources also mean that China can and will provide international aid where other nations cannot or have not. China has expended 10 million yuan in aid to Iran4 to assist in social programs and infrastructure, as well as 40 million yuan in aid to Sudan for resource protection and infrastructure5. Additional income from a positive trade balance has allowed China to create a desirable domestic economic situation, creating more jobs within the government and state held sectors. The policy of creating a social market economy has also created internationally competitive firms outside of Government control, often attracting the best and brightest minds from China and abroad.
Despite a wealth of resources, China, like every other state on the planet, is not self-sufficient; China relies on almost 800 billion dollars of imports every year to keep the economy at a functional rate of growth in accord with the economic plans created by the National People’s Congress.
Our Great Motherland is Thriving
Since the People’s Liberation Army’s victory in the War of Liberation, culminating with Chairman Mao Zedong’s proclamation that the Chinese people have stood up, the People’s Republic of China [中华人民共和国] has continued to thrive and prosper.
Our nation’s roots lie heavily in Communist ideology; however, as China has grown, our principles have evolved into a nationalist state that is proud of its history and people. While many Communist influences and traditions are still present in society, economic reforms have advanced China’s formerly outdated planned economy into a market socialist powerhouse governed by strong institutions with strong leaders. Most importantly, the People’s Republic of China is committed to the One-China Policy in addition to protecting all Chinese territories in the maintenance of sovereignty and national security.
However, as an integral part of the World Community, the People’s Republic of China is also a member of several international and regional organizations including the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the World Trade Organization. We are also founding members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the East Asian Summit. The People’s Republic of China participates in these organizations as we are a regional power as well as an emerging global superpower. We stress the importance of maintaining balance and peace, but are members of regional security organizations in the event our interest or sovereignty is violated.
Long Live the Great Chinese People’s Liberation Army ( PLA)!
The People’s Republic of China maintains the world’s largest fighting force. Active troops outnumber those of the United States by over one million soldiers. The PLA’s active force is numbered at approximately two million soldiers and when supplemented by reservists and paramilitary, can grow over three times. Due to its large size, the PRC has recently increased efforts to create new means of mobilizing such a large military. These efforts can be seen in the dramatic increase in military spending in recent years. The military budget for 2007 was increased to $44.94 billion USD, an increase of more than 10%. This money has gone toward developing a modern navy, continued research and development in the field of nuclear defense, and research and development in weapons and defense for ground troops.
The PRC military is comprised of 18 divisions, which include: armored, mechanized infantry, motorized infantry, regular infantry, amphibious assault, artillery, antiaircraft, and army aviation components. There are also airborne divisions, which are staffed by the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) and the PLA Navy (PLAN) operates multi-arm marine brigades.
In addition to the immense ground troops and growing naval and air fleet, the PRC is a member of the nuclear club. The capability of PRC’s strategic weapons program uses ballistic missiles of various range capability. China continues to develop its strategic weapons program for the purposes of national defense. To supplement the nuclear defense program is the satellite defense system that is currently under development for purposes of additional deterrence.
Militarily, the People’s Republic of China is most closely allied with countries such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Syrian Arab Republic, and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. These nations benefit from close relations with the PRC, making China a key ally for diplomatic relations. These alliances also help the PRC in its goal of security and peace.
The PRC maintains that it is the sole legal government of China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The constant tension between mainland China and Taiwan have created a very hostile situation which has nearly come to a head in recent years. Provided China’s territorial integrity is not threatened and the world recognizes the PRC’s status as the sole legal government of China, this issue will remain peaceful.
A Peaceful Place for China
China pursues an independent foreign policy based on the concept of a peaceful rise. It is important that we retain our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity as we maintain and develop relationships with other countries. China will not bend to outside pressures in matters relating to international relations, but will proceed first and foremost with the fundamental interests of the Chinese people. Chinese systems and ideologies will not be forced upon others, nor will the Chinese allow others to impose their belief systems on our country.
China is a founding member of the United Nations, one of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the World Trade Organization, and participates in many peace keeping and human rights operations throughout the world. China proceeds with friendly relations with other countries on the basis of “mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each others’ internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, China’s Independent Foreign Policy of Peace, August 18, 2003.) China has a specific interest in maintaining and developing good relations with neighboring countries and has witnessed great strides in overcoming problems left over by history in this regard. China seeks to strengthen its solidarity and cooperation with developing countries, having shared common historic experiences of preserving national identity and independence, as well as developing economically in an increasingly globalized world. China believes that mutual, beneficial cooperation has a solid foundation with broad future prospects. At a time when China attempts to institute environmental improvements and equitable distribution of resources within its borders without sacrificing its successful economic advancement, multi-dimensional relations involving trade, and technological and scientific exchanges, to promote common prosperity is among our objectives.
China is opposed to terrorism in any form and has made important contributions to international anti-terrorism cooperation efforts with regard to international arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. China stands ready to enhance cooperation efforts to combat global problems facing mankind.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, (www.fmprc.gov.cn);
China Today (chinatoday.com), General Information, Population
Thank you to International Institute of Social History’s Stefan R. Landsberger Collection for the posters. (http://www.iisg.nl/~landsberger/)
1 The Economist How Fit is the Panda, Sep. 29th – Oct. 5 2007 pg 75
2 Premier Li Peng, opening speech, 96th Inter-Parliamentary Conference, Sept. 19, 1996 http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/zmgx/zgwjzc/t35077.htm
3 China Urged to let Yuan Gain Value October 20, 2007. ABC News http://abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/10/20/2065140.htm?section=justin
4 China Offers a Further 10 million yuan to Iran. 12/31/2001 http://au.china-embassy.org/eng/xw/t57283.htm
5 China Continues Humanitarian Aid to Darfur 8/26/07 China Daily http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-08/26/content_6056535.htm