Commentary on China with an economic flavor

Archive for May, 2011

What values?

Lanxin Xiang at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva has an article in today’s SCMP proposing that deteriorating in U.S. China relations as a result of conflicting values  between the U.S. and China:

But for the US, seeing China as a newly rising power or “emerging market” leads to the logical conclusion that China’s “rise” and its negative consequences must be contained by forcing it to embrace Western value systems. Thus, the reasoning goes, since China has embraced the market economy that originated in the West – a notion that is itself problematic – political democratisation must follow.

The problem with this sort of logic is that it implicitly assumes that authoritarianism is somehow part of the Chinese “value system” — rather than the result of (often brutal) imposition of rulers’ will on the ruled.

In reality, neither Chinese or Americans choose their system of government based on their present-day “values” — it is instead a result of historical happenstance.  But Americans do, at least, choose their current government.  The same cannot be said for China, so where is the evidence that the current Chinese government has anything  to do with Chinese values?


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