Modern China & Western Capitalism
Modern China has been quick to grasp and accept Western capitalist principles. Neighbor Hong Kong has led the flood of foreign investment that fueled China’s astounding 12.8 percent growth of GNP in 1992 (Overholt, 1993, p. 30). However, the obvious rewards are as tantalizingly as they are fraught with risk. Low productivity, a complex system of nepotism and patronage, bureaucratic red tape, defects in legal and financial systems, an inadequate infrastructure, and lack of skilled labor sources are all problems to be addressed (Overholt, 1993, pp. 149-150).
Still, as China continues to extend its “open door” policy, the lure of the market will overpower such drawbacks. To American manufactures, China’s more than one billion people represent a potential market and work force as large as Europe, North America and South America combined (Fairbank, 1987, p. 10). In fact, there may be no more lucrative place on earth to do business than this formerly staunch Marxist state. During the next century, China will represent unprecedented opportunities for the Unites States in expanding export markets. The numerous possibilities include aircraft and aerospace, power plants, and telecommunications (Overholt, 1993, p. 365).
Even the most skeptical of outside observers have been forced to consider seriously the many compelling economic arguments for investment in China. Nevertheless, nagging doubts remain. Because the culture is so deeply rooted in ancient tradition, at times that tradition has impeded technological advance. Historians point to the many xenophobic periods throughout China’s history ranging from the Ming to the early Ch’ing dynasties (Fairbank, 1987, p. 349), when the nation became hostile and mistrustful. Foreigners with investments were shut out, and the eye of the giant turned inward. Such isolation accounts for China’s technological lag in entering the twentieth century.
Concern that, despite its spectacular …