China's Economy in Global Perspective

China's Economy in Global Perspective

China's Economy in Global Perspective

China's Economy in Global Perspective

Excerpt

Of all the major powers, China until recently has been the least involved in the web of global interdependencies that has developed during recent decades. Attitudes rooted in history, as well as recent international politics, partially explain this fact. Traditionally, the Chinese viewed their country as a civilization unto itself and felt little need for contact with the outside world. Because of this, the forcible "opening" of China by the Western colonial powers in the 1840s was traumatic. The Chinese viewed these powers as culturally inferior even though they were more advanced scientifically, technologically, and militarily. The Western impact contributed to the disintegration of the traditional Chinese political and social system, which began a long period of revolutionary change. For the first time, the Chinese had to confront the reality of the modern multistate international system. Since then, for a century and a half, they have been trying to answer some basic questions. To what extent should China involve itself in the world economy and modern international community? And precisely what international roles should it try to play?

There has been continuing debate in China over the desirability, and possibility, of borrowing useful ideas and techniques from more technologically advanced modern nations while at the same time preserving the essence of China's traditional culture. Repeatedly, some relatively cosmopolitan leaders have argued for more active Chinese participation in the international community and extensive borrowing of ideas and values as well as technology from the West, accepting that this would result in far-reaching cultural change within China. Others, essentially nativist or isolationist in orientation, have advocated minimal interaction with the outside world and placed highest priority on the need to pre-

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