Free Response Questions: China

Terms and Definitions

1.) Identify three different forms of political participation in authoritarian systems.
As for China, which is an authoritarian system, three different forms of political participation are
  • the legislative body
  • labor unions--its important to note that only groups that are given official sanction by the Chinese govt--such as these labor unions are allowed to exist. They are do not act like labor unions or other civic organizations in advanced democracy which provide an important pathway of action for citizens. However, even these govt. organized and sponsored organizations provide an indirect means for the people to communicate their concerns to the party elite: the term you want to associate with this is state corporatism (the state requires all members of a particular economic sector to belong to an officially designated interest groups--the state has a lot of control over these)
  • danwei:this is a specifically Chinese innovations--they are social units based on a person's place of work:
  • elections--also not that elections at the local level in China are the most competitive.
  • Though they're are these channels for participation, they don't have much of an impact on the actual decision making process. (KS)

2.) Explain what it means to say that a government has political transparency. Describe two examples that show how the Chinese government has limited transparency since 1989.
  • When a government has political transparency it means that the people know what and why a government does what it does. The people know the decisions made, who voted and didn't for the decisions, etc...Transparency allows the people to have a clear idea of what is going on in their government.
  • The Chinese government has limited transparency since the Tank Man incident that allows the government to act without the people interfering. (MC) You need some specific examples to support this statement, Mattie! A good definition of political transparency though. You can use Kinsey's blog entries for some specific examples of how the govt. has limited criticism. Why not take a look at how China has responded to Google? You can link to one or two articles if you find some good ones.
  • 2008 Earth Quake In my analysis I focused on equality in China, however the 2008 earth quake is a great example of how opaque the Chinese government is: a disaster happens (one which really is the governments fault), the Chinese government steps in (controls press, investigations etc.) and that's that. Though the Chinese government was forced to instate an investigation, it really wasn't an investigation. This blog post is about one man who tried to expose the real story and was imprisoned for his desire to seek transparency.
  • Cnn v. Google
  • Nobel Peace Prize: even though outside institutions are advocating free speech in China, the Chinese government continues to censor everything. The Chinese Communist Party is able to function so efficiently because the Chinese people do not have the right to question the government. This blog post is about the Chinese government still trying to clean up after Tienanmen Square. Even after 12 years, the government is still trying to silence any one who questions their supreme authority.
  • Running Over Opposition: this is yet again another example of the Chinese government silencing the people, and not having to answer to anyone... or do they? -- in this post i talked about how web 2.0 and the age of camera phones demands transparency, however China's government is not willing to open the tightly closed doors of the politboro. (KS)
  • On Christmas Day 2010, workers for the Chinese government ran over and killed Qian Yunhui, a political activist. The government attempted to cover it up by announcing to the public that it was a traffic accident. Fortunately, the internet has allowed for video footage of the "accident" to be leaked to some of the public, but the government continues to deny the claims. This is an example of transparency in that the government is hiding their actions and trying to keep their citizens in the dark (CG)

3.) Describe the status of private property in China under Mao. Identify and explain one policy undertaken by the
Chinese government within the past 30 years that contradicts that policy.(KW)

  • Mao à Massive Collectivization, 1953 – 1957
    • The majority of the land was owned by the government – i.e. no private property
    • Farms were consolidated to form large collective farms where the food was produced to feed workers
    • RESULT:
      • The peasants remained poor
      • Corruption
      • Lack of efficiency
      • 30 to 40 million died

  • Deng à Agriculture Reform
    • Collectives was distributed to each household: Household Responsibility System
    • Kept whatever extra crops the farmers could grow after meeting their grain quota
    • RESULT:
      • Farmers had more options with their livelihood
      • 22 million small businesses appeared
      • Many rural families repaired or improved their homes

  • Currently: There still is little protection for private property. The government can still take away property anytime they want to - to develop cities and create largest hydro-electric power station--best evidence of this is the Three Gorges Dam project which displaced millions of Chinese from their homes to build the largest hydroelectric facility in the country. NPR did a story on the Three Gorges Dam in 2008 and part of the series was on the displacement process. Check it out here.
  • BUT there are signs of change. In 2007, China passed a new law which sought to strengthen legal protection for private property for the first time. Take at a great NY Times article on the new law--and the policy making process behind it here.

4.) Describe one feature of a bureaucracy in the context of an authoritarian system. Explain how that feature you
have described can both help and hinder the effective implementation of public policy in an authoritarian system.

A bureaucracy is meant to carry out the actions of a state in a way that is as beneficial as possible for its people while also being as efficient (in terms of time and money) as possible. This tends to work well in authoritarian systems of government. The bureaucracy can carry out their plans with ease because they don't have to ask the people's opinion and they have ultimate power (power is concentrated at the top)

In an authoritarian system, bureaucrats are appointed not due to merit and qualification but to personal relationships or affiliations they have with those in power. Policies are easier to implement with such a small, centralized government and it is also easier for the government to monitor and make efforts to see that their policies are continued. A bureaucracy within the context of an authoritarian system is often riddled with corruption, and can also run into problems because of the lack of experience that many of the appointees have in the role that they have assumed. (MS)

Conceptual Analysis (Lindsey)

5.) Political legitimacy is a fundamental concept in comparative politics and is important for governments as well as citizens.

a.Define political legitimacy.
  • Political legitimacy is a state that has a government that is recognized by the state and other states as right and proper, that the person in power has the right to be in that position. A failed state is one in which there is a lack of political legitimacy in the government. Political legitimacy can come from the people's perception of the leader(s), the law and a constitution, or it can come from having a government that has been in place for a long period of time. A legitimate government is one that can provide basic goods and services for the people.
b.Describe two ways in which political legitimacy can be achieved in a democratic state.
  • Political legitimacy in a democratic state is achieved because of the free elections and the opposing political parties. In a democracy, the government is legitimate because it is supposed to provide democratic ideals for the people. A democratic state can achieve political legitimacy through checks and balances and separation of powers. This way, there is more than one person who makes all decisions for the state.

c. Describe two ways of establishing political legitimacy in a communist state.
  • One way of establishing political legitimacy in a communist state would be for the people to have the ability to disagree with the government. A way to establish this is to have debates and to be able to question political leaders. Also, a state can have apposing political parties in order to be able to disagree with the government. Another way of creating political legitimacy is by having separation of powers. With controlling powers separated into many groups, there are always checks on each level of power.
  • I disagree with ya linz on this one:
  • Though democratic states achieve legitimacy through free and fair elections as well as the constitution, Communist states achieve legitimacy through different means. Two ways which a communist state can achieve legitimacy is through the economy and fear. China exemplifies the notion of people recognizing a communist government as right and proper in order to receive economic benefits. As long as China is able to hold up they're end of the social contract (recognizing few rights of the citizens in order to make all of the decisions in exchange for economic growth), the people will legitimize the Chinese Communist Party.In fact, as we've studied the Chinese Communist Party has calculated that the must maintain at least a rate of 9% GDP growth per year in order for them to maintain the buy in of the people. Another way a communist state establishes legitimacy can be through fear. Russia under Stalin exemplifies this form of legitimacy. Stalin was seen as the right and proper leader of Russia because of the fear he wielded against his own people. (KS)
  • Yeah Kinsey I think you're right. If you look at Nigeria, even though they are working on having free and fair elections, they are still on the brink of becoming a failed state. Nigeria lacks the legitimacy of a stronger state such as China, who gets its power from something like the economy, or as you said the power of fear form the people.

d. Explain how legitimacy impacts government effectiveness in a communist state.
  • Legitimacy impacts government effectiveness in a communist state because the rate of change would be different. In the United States, a democratic state, the rate of change is extremely slow because ideas must pass through many levels of power until they are accepted and put into action. In a communist state, there is not a system of separation of powers. Ideas do not need to pass from one body of power to the next. This allows for decisions to be made promplty and put into effect quickly.
  • I don't think that legitimacy necessarily effects a communist state's efficiency. I think that legitimizing a state through fear or economic growth makes the state more vulnerable then say a democratic regime. These forms of legitimacy make the states extremely effective for a brief time, they aren't realistically sustainable. For example if China doesn't maintain huge economic growth every year, the people will no longer live with being oppressed. Also, a state that is legitimized through fear isn't maintainable. This is what caused the movement to desatlinize Russia, because innovation and modernization can't happen when the people live in fear. (KS)
  • This is an interesting point given what we're seeing all across the Arab world at this point---the govt. in Egypt was in power due to the fear and power it wielded over its citizenry. As we have seen this week, such regimes can fall quickly if the people are emboldened to stand up to them and the govt. proves unwilling to use power against the people--as happened in China in 1989 and might possibly happen in Iran today if the protests in Egypt continue to spark uprising in that country.

Country Context

6.) The increasing international integration of economies has led to political debate in Great Britain and China

a.For Great Britain, describe one argument for and one argument against joining the European Union single currency.

There are many advantages if the United Kingdom adopts the Euro as its currency. Great Britain could join Single European Market, consisting of European countries trading using the Euro as a currency, increasing trade. Countries would be more likely to invest in the UK because of their labor markets, but also because companies would not have to convert to the Euro when exporting goods. Also, the Euro would stabilize and be less vulnerable in periods of economic downturn and foreign exchange crises. Tourists traveling to the UK from Euro countries would not have to convert money. A single currency would lead to lower interest rates and businesses would not have to worry about currency fluctuations.

There are 15 countries currently using the Euro, who all have different economies, demographics, and many speak different languages. The language barrier may cause some areas to thrive, while other areas deteriorate. The United Kingdom would instantly lose sovereignty if they join the single currency because they would no longer control their fiscal power. They would be forced to work with economically weaker countries in deciding on an economic policy. A monetary policy spanning so many unique countries has never been attempted for, which speculates some doubt and uncertainty. (EMILEE) Also, changing the British currency from the pound to the Euro has serious repercussions on Britain's national identity. One of the concerns with conforming to the European currency is that Britons would loose a major part of being a citizen of Britain. Similarly to how America identifies it's self with the dollar, Britain wants to remain an independent body with the money it's citizens have used for hundreds of years.(KS)
I also feel that Britain is not willing to swtich the the Euro just because they would lose their leverage over the global economy. Their money has strength and recognition as a very strong currency and is stronger than the Euro, so I do not see them willing to switch anytime soon. (CM)

b. Describe the current British government's response to the issue of EU single currency.

c.For China, describe one argument for and one argument against the privatization of industry.
  • Obviously one argument for privatization of industry in China is efficiency and productivity. Under Mao's command economy both were incredibly low.
  • One argument against China's privatization of industry is the greater likelihood of increased inequality in the country. That's always the flip side when you move from a command to a market economy and China currently has one of the highest GINI indexes in the world and some of the greatest disparities in wealthy, particularly between the urban regions of the country along the coast and the rural areas of the country.

  • Another argument for the privatization of industry is that it provides work incentives, creates competition and stabilizes the market. (MS)
  • At the same time, the privatization of industry can also cause the creation of oligarchs (MS)

d. Describe the Chinese government's response to global pressure to privatize industry.

Possible Example #1 (Ms. T)
  • One way that the Chinese government has responded to the global pressure to privatize industry is their decision to join the World Trade Organization in 2001.
  • This represented a major effort on the part of China to enter the global market place and to allow private industry to grow and develop, particularly industry funded by American and other western countries. China had made an application to join the WTO as early as the mid 1980s but was rejected by the WTO originally. Those initial objections were finally overcome in 2001 after China agreed to some concessions such as lowering their agricultural subsidies.
  • China gained a lot as a result of this entry, but they have also lost some of their ability to control their own economic policies. In December 2010, the US challenged China in the TWO over its subsidies to its burgeoning wind turbine industry.
  • On a side note (not for this particular question!) here's an interesting point of view on why such subsidies are good for the U.S. by the Motley Fool.
Possible Example #2 (Ms. T)
  • Just this month (February, 2011) China has made moves to lessen its control over its state managed currency, the renminbi, and allow it gradually to become a global currency comparable to the dollar.
  • This move reduces China's strict control over its currency, a control that has allowed its economy to grow so rapidly since 1978 by keeping the currency unnaturally low in value, a move which makes Chinese exports much cheaper comparable to Western goods.
  • But as China moves into the second decade of the 21st century, such control has come at a cost. It is restricting how much foreign investment is flowing into the country and it is preventing China from competing head to head with the dollar and the EU.
  • So in exchange for reducing its control, China is conceding the role of private industry in its economy and extending that privitization to its banking system in order to better compete.
  • This move will also help China deal with possible rampant inflation which might continue if the currency continues to remain low and people in China save their money rather than invest it.

7.) China and Russia both have political parties and party systems.

a. Describe the party system that currently exists in China. Describe the party system that currently exists in Russia.

  • Political parties in Russia originally formed as a way to build support for Parliamentary policies, but have since changed. Today, the leading political party is United Russia, which is the first major party since the fall of the Soviet Union. The major reason for its success is due to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s support of the party. Although some suspect that elections are rigged, United Russia continues to pull ahead by a large majority. Some think of political parties in Russia as failed because of United Russia’s dominance in the Duma and in elections.
    • The other reason that United Russia wields so much power is the way that Putin changed the election system in Russia in 2005--not switched the elections from half first past to the post/half proportion to all proportional and upped the minimum percentage of voters to 7%. This allowed United Russia to dominate the Duma elections in 2007.
  • There is only one political party in China: the Communist Party. No one is allowed to express dissent against it or try to defy it. (CG)
    • There are some minor parties which tend to represent ethnic minorities or specific groups of people but they do not have enough clout to make a difference in policy making and they are very small--they do not function as a true opposition party.

b. Discuss one factor that has contributed to the structure of the party system in China. Discuss one factor that has contributed to the party system in Russia. (EMILEE)
  • The current party system today was affected by the original dynasties that once ruled. The power was concentrated from the start, and was held within a group of people that knew each other. Today, the structure of the party system remains the same, but isn't conentrated based upon family, but who you know. For example, the National Party Congress (at the bottom of the order of power) consists of 2,000 members, but it only meets once every five years, and you can only get into this by knowing someone in it already. (MC)
  • whenever you talk about the "old boy network" in China you want to use the term guanxi which means personal connection--that's how you move up the ladder so to speak in the party. You also want to get on the nomenklatura--which is a list of possible members of the party who can fill various jobs at the local and provincial level.

c. Describe the impact that the party system in China has had on the policy making process. Describe one impact that the party system in Russia has had on the policymaking process.
  • The party system in China has impacted the policy making process based upon the number of people in power that acutally contribute in the policy making. No one has any real power or control until they reach the top of the heirarchal system, which is where the policy process takes place. The party system has limited people to speak out against policies, and the group over the individual is valued more than vice versa, which affects the policies created. And the fact that the policies are made at such a quick rate doesn't allow for the one to even really have a say in speaking out against the policies if they wanted to. (MC) The CCP are the policy makers. All of the decision/policy making goes on in the Politiboro/Standing Committee of the CCP. (KS)
  • Policy-making can also lack innovation without debate. For instance, in theUS when various people's ideas are bounced off of one another's, new innovative ideas can come of it, but when policy is created by one small group of people who are like-minded, ideas can become stagnant and one-sided. (CG)

8.) China is the most populous country in the world with the 3rd largest land space after Russia and Canada.

external image map_of_china.jpg

a. Describe one population pattern in China displayed on the map above.
Most of China's major cities are on the coast. If a major city isn't on the coast, then it is on a river. (KS)

b. Using the population pattern that you described in (a), identify and explain two implications of this population pattern for policymaking in China.

  • Policy making is influenced by trade (as all of these major cities seem to be by a water source.) They focus their energy on things that make trade prosper i.e. roads, modes of transportation etc-infrastructure (CG)
  • There are a couple of other implications of this population pattern for policy making: the coastal areas have thrived while the countryside---where 750 million China reside--has remained poor and underdeveloped.
  • There is also a big division between ethnic Chinese (the Han) who live in the coastal areas of China--and ethnic minorities who live in the West and the North. Some of these areas--like Tibet--desire their independence from China and created tension and conflict.China has sought to strengthen its hold over Tibet by shipping in ethnic Chinese to settle.