China as a Rising World Power and Its Response to 'Globalization'

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China as a Rising World Power and its Response to 'Globalization', edited by Ronald C. Keith. London: Routledge, 2005. [ii] + 128 pp. £65.00 (hardcover).

The title of this book does not pique the reader's interest, as the "rise of China" and the issue of globalization are two of the most hackneyed themes in today's world. Yet the authors, who first published their contributions in The Review of International Affairs, mostly escape superficiality by underlining the specific, often non-conventional, responses that China has designed in the different sectors where its rise indeed intersects with the trends of globalization.

In the first chapter, on "Globalization, human rights and international relations", Ann Kent argues that China has only adopted the "hard-edged contour of economic globalization" (p. 22). Market actors, social stability and government authority have taken precedence over social welfare and individual rights. The initial failure to admit the spread of SARS is also taken as an example of "international reputation" taking precedence over protection of rights. A second chapter by Alan Smart and Jinn-Yuh Hsu on "the Chinese diaspora, foreign investment and economic development" argues that the investments by overseas Chinese (including so-called "roundtrippers" exporting capital from the mainland to reinvest it as foreign) has helped to mitigate the bias in reform policies. It has in fact helped to finance private firms and entrepreneurs in China, who were disadvantaged with respect to large foreign and state firms. Taiwanese investment in the high-tech Integrated Circuit industry is cited as an example, although the scale and implications-notably, for the future military balance-of this Taiwanese connection are not fully discussed.

In another unconventional approach, Margaret Meriweather Pearson brings a fresh perspective to the issue of China's implementation of its entry into WTO. Drawing from the existing global literature on trade policy and regulation, she makes the point that there is simply no single and convergent outcome after countries sign on to WTO. Arguing against liberal approaches and citing Jagdish Bhagwati's recipe (forcing internal compliance and doing away with non-tariff barriers) as opening a "Pandora's box" (p. 63), she explains that domestic subsidies, for example, are often ways to deflect domestic political and social conflict. Even the WTO leaves ample room for internal regulation and has, for instance, tolerated both the Anglo-Saxon and the developmental forms of state intervention in the past. …