China and globalization.
The intellectuals of Peking speak
An inedited informative report on the phenomenon of globalization comes to us from a highly developed debate among Chinese intellectuals. It concerns an ‘inside view’ which, for the first time, allows us to examine the situation from the viewpoint of a country which is trying to identify an original and alternative path able to satisfy the requirements of modernization and, at the same time, respect tradition.
The term which was coined at the beginning of the 1990’s, to translate the concept of ‘globalization’ is (quanqiuhua). In the official language, quanquihua has gradually replaced the word which means “modernization”, (i.e., xiandaihua, where xiandai is the equivalent of the word ‘modern’), now considered obsolete (1) .
Such lexical evolution reflects the always more massive integration of the Country into the mechanisms of the international market, which started with the policy of opening (i.e.towards the outside world) and reform (gaige kaifang), during the historical 3rd Plenum of the 11th Central Committee (12 – 18 December 1978) and which was accelerated in 1992.
The steps taken by the establishment to reorganize and strengthen the internal economy have produced surprising results, as the following figures demonstrate: the annual growth recorded in 1992 – 1994 was higher than 13%, in 1994 – 1997, it oscillated around 9 % and from 1998, it has stabilized around 4 – 6 % (2) .
The result of this extraordinary development was China’s entry to the World Trade Organization (W.T.O.). This goal, reached in 2001 after 15 years of negotiations, has attributed to China, the status of an emerging economic giant, if not the new frontier of the world economy.
Thanks to the abundance of underpaid labour and to the incalculable profit opportunities offered by a continuously expanding market, in 2004, the P.I.L. (Gross Internal Product) again passed the threshold of 9%.
It is expected that in 2005 China will become the 3rd country for volume of goods exchange, after U.S.A. and Germany, eclipsing Japan (3) .
However, this exceptional growth is causing a series of imbalances both at the national and international levels. For example, from 2000, China has contributed to the two fifths of the growth in the world demand for raw materials, with the consumption, in 2004 equal to 30% of extracted petroleum, 30% of produced steel and 40% of cement. In the next 20 years, China’s demand for energy per person could quadruplicate, consequently, overtaking the American rate of consumption although each Chinese will burn half the energy that each American citizen will burn (4) .
From these examples it is evident that China will hardly be able to keep its rate of growth unvaried. The likelihood of a progressive reduction is suggested not only by the necessity to respect the economic and geopolitical world equilibrium, but also by the rising internal tension. The steady diffusion of the principal aberrations of the capitalist model, like the corruption of management, the increase of criminality, the wide gap between the rich and the poor, between the city and the country, the headlong race towards a consumer society, have induced some observers to acknowledge that globalization is creeping into the Country, threatening to compromise the fragile equilibrium.
The “genesis” of the debate
on globalization in China
In this context, the publication, in 1989, of the book by Shintaro Ishihara “Japan can say no: because Japan will be the first among its equals” has had wide acclaim. It can be considered the initial act of the debate on the superiority of the Asiatic values with respect to those of the West, a reflection which has involved the emerging countries of the Extreme East (5) .
Asia has become a subject of study, in the main foreign institutes, for its astonishing economic growth. Since the middle of the 1990’s, they have spoken of “Confucian Capitalism”. (6) Some Western and Asiatic scholars have, in fact, realized the usefulness of certain aspects of Confucianism for economic growth, namely: frugality, honesty, business ethics, the importance of instruction, the respect towards the family and, above all, towards authority. There is an opinion that the 21st Century will be the “Asiatic Century”, since Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world, as has been demonstrated by the rapid development of Japan and of the so called “four Asian tigers”. China with an average growth increase from 6-8% per year of the P.I.L. (Gross Internal Product), shares this prevision.
The pride generated by these results has favoured the revival of the studies on the national heritage (guoxue) and the publication of books which condemn the spreading of homologation. Among these books we can mention: “China can say No” ( Zhong-guo keyi shuo bu), which obtained great success in 1996. The opposition to China’s entry to the W.T.O., the refusal to assign the 2000 Olympic Games to China, the Taiwan strait crisis (1995 – 1996), the American support of the Tibetan cause, the suspected C.I.A. espionage activities, have induced the authors of these books to maintain that the United States are not the bastion of universal values which they sustain to be, but are a hegemonic power, narcissistic and arrogant which acts as a sort of global surveillance agency. Furthermore, the literature does not spare the Chinese leaders, accused of being too compliant in their relations with the United States. Sometimes, they should have the courage to say “No” to the Americans, but they are not sufficiently sure of themselves (7) .
The sense of uneasiness which has found expression in these texts and in the subsequent discussions, has been further sharpened by the slow, but irreversible decline of the optimism which characterized the 1980’s. As Wang Hui stated, the opening to the West and to globalization has not resulted in the propagation of equality and social justice, but rather in collusion between economy and politics and to the deepening of the rift between the rich and the poor (8) .
Thus, since the second half of the 1990s, Chinese intellectuals have accepted the umpteenth challenge from the West and have tried to analyse the repercussions of this phenomenon on the Chinese “continent”. Their different opinions have given way to a heated debate which is still continuing today. To render the atmosphere even more stimulating, they have contributed the influences coming from the Western intellectual circles, like post modernism and post colonialism, etc.
In the course of the years, no theory has acquired an absolute validity, thus bringing into evidence an extremely variegated intellectual panorama. However, on examination of this panorama (with all due simplifications) one can discern a dividing line between two groups: the “new left” (xinzuopai) and “liberalism” (ziyouzhuyi). Such a debate formation recalls the Western type, with the opposition between two principal sides; one, critical of globalization and the other supporting it.
The “new left” (xinzuopai)
With due differences, the “new left” could be assimilated into the Western group which criticizes globalization.
The expression “xinzuopai” was coined by the intellectuals to distinguish this new current from the known “old left”, constituted by the Marxist – Leninist ideologies, like Hu Qiaomu and Deng Liqun. Unlike the “old left”, the “new left” does not oppose the policy of opening and reform, but refuses the introduction of radical modifications into the economic and political system now in force. Furthermore, its representatives believe that the Chinese Communist Party should rise and champion the interests of the Country, formulating reforms which favour the economic growth without damaging the national identity.
The first to be mentioned as members of the “new left” are the Chinese who have studied abroad, (mainly in the U.S.A.), subjects such as social sciences and the classical disciplines.
As Wang Hui notes, living in the West has permitted these intellectuals to witness the attacks against capitalism and against the degeneration of the society, which are every day discussions on the campuses (9) . Western critics of globalization denounce the growing concentration of wealth in the hands of a restricted elite, the irrational use of natural resources, the uniformity of life styles and conformity with consumer models which destroy the pluralistic quality of cultures, the growth in military expenses, the war victims and the deaths from malnutrition (10) .
Also in China, there was growing attention to post-modernism, post colonialism and de-construction, with the publication of the works of foreign scholars such as Edward Said and Michael Foucoult, around the middle of the 1980’s To this, the influence of the School of Frankfurt, of Wallerstein, of Amin, etc, has been added.
However, it was only after the Tien-an Men Square incident in 1989 and the drastic changes which followed, that these currents of opinion, together with other methods of criticism, marked the progressive detachment from the Movement of May 4th 1919 (11) , and gave a start to a diminishing of consumerism predominantly of Western derivation (12) .
In the middle of the 1990’s, in order to avoid censorship, the “thinkers” of the “new left” started to divulge their ideas in Hong Kong newspapers and magazines such as the ‘Twenty-first Century’ (Ershiyishiji), drawing the attention of the Chinese academic circles and the Chinese media.
In general, they challenge the western liberal ideology and sustain the necessity to rise above both socialism and capitalism to develop an alternative way towards modernization.
Their attention was mainly concentrated on the cooperation between the Chinese Communist Party and the global market. In fact, the present programme of reforms does nothing but reinforce the economic power of the Chinese elites, worsening the inequality among the various social classes and between China and other states.
This sort of connivance has been willingly accepted by the major part of the intellectual community, particularly, by the so-called “neo-liberals” (13) . The mirage of economic wellbeing and of a democratic society, that will guarantee equal rights and duties for all, to many has impeded the development of an adequate critical conscience which allows one to see beyond the immediate material benefits. They have become accomplices to this system, adapting their activities to the iron laws of the market.
The first to reflect on the current situations was Wang Hui who, as well as being the editor of the popular magazine, ’Study’ (Dushu), he is also one of the main exponents of the “new left”, In fact, it was he who started the dispute between the “new left” and “liberalism “ with the publication of the essay, “The situation of contemporary Chinese Thought and Modernity”, (Dangdai Zhongguode sixiang zhangkuang yu xiandaixing wenti) in the magazine, “Frontiers”, (Tianya) in May 1997 (14) .
In his analysis, Wang denounces the excessive influence of the Western culture, above all, American - a factor which constitutes an obstacle to the development of an original Chinese thought. Notwithstanding this, he does not defend with drawn sword, the traditional Chinese culture. In fact, his objective is to overcome the classic dichotomies, the West and China, Capitalism and Socialism, and free market versus planned market because both nationalism and the Western model, brought to extremes, does nothing more than worsen the fracture between East and West (15) .
It would be an error, therefore, to analyze the problems encountered by China along the road to modernization, on the basis of Capitalism. Such a form of development, in fact, has been elaborated on the basis of Western historical paths. Consequently, the Chinese questions would have been liquidated as a difficulty generated by the economic and scientific backwardness of the Country, like obstacles produced by the complex passage of an agricultural economy to an industrial one
From this it can be deduced that, according to the western theories, modernization means the diffusion of Capitalism. Instead, as Wang Hui underlines, the Chinese conception of modernization sinks its very roots in Socialism (16) .
Mao Zedong firmly believed that the strategy of the revolution and of the Great Leap Forward (17) would have permitted China to come out of its state of under-development and compete with the industrially advanced countries.
Fundamental to the realization of this project was the establishment of Collectivism, considered the indispensable condition of mobilizing the whole population and directing all efforts to the growth of the Country.
Through the nationalization of the economy and the creation of working class communes, Mao succeeded in subjecting the society to the priorities of the State, controlling the problems of tax collection inherited from the times of Qing, reducing the difficulties of the supply of raw materials to the industries etc.
According to Wang Hui, the Maoist Socialism constitutes a theory of modernization alternative to the Capitalistic one because it is founded on the revolutionary ideology and on an equalitarian model rather than on private property and the separation between the capitalist-owner class and the working class.
However, along the road to modernization, the Maoist thought has created profound contradictions. Wang is aware of this and discusses it with great intellectual loyalty. For example, he believes that any form of social equalitarianism, which was introduced into China) between 1949 and 1976 has lost the greater part of its real value, in the face of the total separation between the leader executives and the people, between cities and rural areas etc. Another antinomy is represented by the fact that, on the one side, Mao nationalized the economy in order to direct the society towards reaching acceptable living conditions and, on the other side, he always deprecated state control because it limits the autonomy of the people
Such incongruity is generated by the fact that the seeking of modernization in China was born in an historical context, characterized first, by the expansion of imperialism, and then, by the crisis of capitalism. It is, therefore, natural that any promoter of development has reflected deeply on ways of avoiding abuses in the process of Western modernization.
This tendency was ‘nick-named’ by Wang Hui “ the anti-modern theory of modernization” (fanxiandaixing de xiandaixing lilun), whereas for “anti-modern” is intended the modification, (in a liberticidal way), of certain aspects of the theory of western modernization because they are self-defeating, (for example, The capillary penetration of the State in every sector of social life is justified by the will to impede an excessive diversity among social classes) (18) .
The present modernization process, which started in 1978 with the launching of a policy of opening and reform, aims at the economic growth of the Country and its entrance into the restricted circle of the most influential world powers. It lacks the idealistic component of the Mao thought which has been replaced by an iron pragmatism which is synthesised in the words of Deng Xiaoping : “practice is the only criterion of truth (19) . As such, it tends to be always more similar to the capitalistic model and to repeat its faults.
Wang Hui, believes, furthermore, that the events of 1989, and the radical changes which followed, demonstrate the existence of a paradoxical relation between the State and the market: on the one side, the expansion of global capitals is unthinkable in the presence of the legal apparatus and of the state limitations, but, on the other, the market needs the cooperation of the state to continue expansion. Precisely on the basis of this inextricable relation, Wang reaches the conclusion that the integration of China into the mechanisms of globalization cannot be stopped (20) and that the globalization process is fed also by the forces which are contrary to globalization (21) .
The State, then, becomes the champion of the interests of the great companies adapting itself to the rules of W.T.O. and of the other international organisms.
To avoid that the society falls into a state of irreversible crisis, it is necessary that the government refuses to adhere to the more radical liberal programmes, taking upon itself the responsibility of ensuring social justice not only at national level, but also above national level (22) .
In the sphere of international relations, in fact, it is necessary to impede the prevalence of individual state interests, i.e. of the most powerful countries at the expense of the newly developing ones. To this purpose it would be ideal to establish a sort of world government to coordinate the global financial policy, the fair distribution of wealth, the protection of the environment etc., so that each individual nation is compelled to consider the wellbeing of the global community prior to its own.
This project recalls one proposed by one of the most authoritative scholars of the globalization phenomenon, the emeritus Professor of Sociology of the Leeds and Varsavia Universities, Zygmunt Bauman, who foresees the establishment of a planetary republic which is capable of protecting the notions of “public welfare”, “good society”, “impartiality” and “justice” (23) .
Naturally, the question is not limited exclusively to the interlacement between economy and politics. Wang maintains, in fact, that a new model of globalization is emerging in the world: the “military” one lead by the U.S.A. and by N.A.T.O., the implications of which are equally disturbing (24) . Wang’s reflections recall those of the Italian, Danilo Zolo, who underlines the progressive passage from circumscribed wars in defined spaces, justified by righteous causes (bellum justum) to a global war motivated exclusively by the logic of ‘profit’ (25) .
One of the clearest testimonies of this process, was the Balkan war, initiated in 1999 and never concluded. It represents the first case of conflict to break out in order to impede the perpetuation of crimes against humanity, but it never received the approval of O.N.U. It was followed by the equally tragic war in Iraq of 2003, which is still the cause of thousands of innocent deaths today.
It is the attempt to sensitize the consciences of the leaders to the importance of performing social justice that induces Wang to re-evaluate Socialism. The socialist ideology, in fact, is characterized by the exaltation of social equality and impartiality. Consequently, intellectuals have appealed to this, to denounce the corruption of the establishment, before and after 1978.
In order to understand to what point the Chinese problems, after the opening towards the world market, are an integral part of a world crisis of modernity, it is necessary to submit to close criticism, not only the recent history of China, but also the history of European capitalism and its expansion in the world. The scope of this analysis is not to refuse completely, the experience of modernity, but to eliminate the fetishism towards the West and utilize the history of China and of other societies, to renew the modernization process and try to remedy the damage done by globalization.
From all this, it can be deduced that according to Wang, the path towards progress and economic growth must be encouraged, but it is necessary to modify the ways in which it has been managed so far, in order to avoid that the world falls into a state of irreversible crisis.
The same line of thought is also taken by Cui Zhiyuan, to whom Wang Hui reserves particular praise.
To those intellectuals who maintain that the only possible path towards modernity is the combination of liberal democracy and neoclassic capitalism, Cui replies that there does not exist a unique model of liberalism, (Japan, Germany and the U.S.A. follow different paths) and that their model is showing its negative aspects, as many western intellectuals agree.
Like other members of the “new left” of Maoist tradition, Wang refuses both the mobilization of the mass and the rigid bureaucratic apparatus associated with planned economy, but positively evaluates the revolution experience because of the energy and innovation that accompany it.
In particular, he believes that the Maoist doctrine, divested of its excesses, is able to furnish a base for the establishment of a democratic economy in China. Wang’s idea derives from an attentive study of the village of Nanjie, in the province of Hanan. Around the middle of the 1990’s, this village became the subject of strong debate because it had reached economic wellbeing by following the Thought of Mao Zedong, without resorting to private property.
According to Cui, Nanjie is a witness as to how it is possible to find a compromise between Mao’s heritage and the free market economy, at the same time obtaining social justice and economic efficiency (26) .
His criticism of Liberalism and the support given to Mao’s cause are an integral part of the breaking with tradition of the 4th of May 1919, which involved also the intellectuals of the “new left” who express even more radical positions.
These “new left”, among whom we can remember Han Yuhai, do not limit themselves to criticizing the main distortions of globalisation, but harshly condemn the entire phenomenon, identifying it with westernization or even with Americanization (quanqiuhua jiushi meiguohua) (27) . Following this path, China will soon find itself under the control of the multi-nationals and will be irreparably ‘caught up’ in the vortex of Capitalism. It is just such a dominion of restricted financing and political oligarchies that these ‘thinkers’ are against. Such positions coincide with those of the Western critics of globalization, among whom, we remember Zygmunt Bauman, James Mittelman, Michael Hardt, Toni Negri, etc (28) .
Similarly, Han Shao Gong, essayist and theorist as well as being a writer, has underlined, as a matter of fact, how colonialism, at the expense of the so-called “third world countries”, did not finish at the beginning of 1900, but has only changed form, transforming itself into cultural hegemony, enacted mainly by the U.S.A. (29) In his opinion, the cultural models imported from the West via the mass media do nothing but nourish disaffection towards study, work, and the basic values on which a strong and stable society is built.
The only remedy against what he calls “mass mediatic capitalism” (chuanmei zibenzhuyi) is nationalism. However, Han Shao Gong warns against the snares of nationalism which, when brought to extremes, turns into fundamentalism, as has happened in Bosnia, In Cecenia, etc (30) .
Notwithstanding the intellectual efforts of its members, the “new left” is composed of a small minority and the challenge of consumerism which they must face every day,( based on the ‘get rich quick’ concept), continues to thwart their efforts to propose an alternative to the rapidly spreading westernization.
As is underlined by the Italian sociologist Luciano Gallinoun, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and others, the conscious decisions of the major world powers to accelerate, always more, the liberalization of the movements of capital , the deregulation of the labour market, the reduction of State intervention in numerous sectors, (Health, Social Security, Education etc.), and the cultural homologation, will provide benefits from which only the richest will have the advantage (31) . By now. there appears to be no way of halting this process, and a way out seems impossible because the network of interests that feeds it, is too vast.
However, it is just for this reason that the activities of groups like the “new left” are fundamental in China.
They constitute a sort of critical conscience of globalization by trying to point out the excesses and offer corrections for its future progress and even elaborate alternatives.
The liberal current (ziyouzhuyji), instead, is characterized by the exaltation of capitalism and of its conquests.
Interest in western liberalism started to spread in China during the 1980’s, thanks to translations of the works of such philosophers as James Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Karl Popper, F.A. von Hayek and Francis Fukuyama.
This movement has its roots in the Enlightenment tradition of the 4th of May 1919, Movement, which praised the victory of science and democracy over obscurantism and the destruction of the cultural heritage of Confucius, considered the main obstacle to the progress of the Country. Consequently, its members have strenuously supported Deng Xiaoping’s policy of opening and reform, which implied not only China’s entrance into the world’s economic, political and cultural circuit, but also the revision of some practices of the old Marxist Leninist order, like the planning of the economic sector.
Under the influence of Western ideology, above all, American, the Chinese liberal groups brought their arguments to extremes.
The sporadic requests for innovations became always more pressing by the end of the 1980’s, fomented by the awareness of the growing diversity between the rich and the poor and by the spreading corruption.
The expressions of uneasiness reached a climax with the April – June 1989 Tien an Men square demonstrations which notably complicated relations between the government and the liberals.
The restrictive measures, enforced the day after the troops attacked the demonstrators, forced some intellectuals to abandon China, others to keep silent, immersing themselves in non-political activities.
The distension which succeeded the journey of Deng Xiaoping to the South of the Country (32) , permitted a restricted number of scholars to put the accent, again, on the necessity for changes, though in a moderate way and within well defined limits, like specific magazines and academic circles (33) .
Furthermore, in the course of the 1900’s, the socialist ideology underwent an ever increasing drive towards renewal. This drive was strongly influenced by the West, which highlighted the Capitalist economic success, and added the hostility against Communism which was rooted in the political and cultural environment of the Right.
Galvanized by the western influence, the liberals started to question the legitimacy of the Party to lead the country, during the transitional phase, towards the free market.
One of the main targets of liberalism then, has become the radical transformation of the Chinese socio-economic and political structure, being inspired by the neo-conservative system of the Regan-Thatcher era.
More generally, the liberal intellectuals started a process of re-evaluation of the mobility of global capital, presenting its supremacy as the victory of civilization over ignorance in the struggle between the forces of modernization and those of under-development (34) . The encounter with the Thatcher-Reagan ideology has induced some scholars to nominate this current thought, “neo-liberalism” (35) .
Among its maximum exponents, let us mention Li Shenzhi, Director of the American Study Institute at the Chinese Social Sciences Academy. He is one of the most respected intellectuals in China, thanks to his excellent knowledge of both the Chinese and Western cultural heritages.
He declares to be a direct descendent of the Enlightenment tradition of the 4th of May Movement and he states that the objectives which have characterized it, like the triumph of democracy and the right of the individual to self-determination, have not yet been obtained (36) .
In order to demonstrate that values such as individualism, human rights, reciprocal tolerance are not the exclusive heritage of western liberalism, but they are an integral part of the 4th May, he refers to the works of the most representative intellectuals of that movement such as Chen Duxiu, Cai Yuanpei, Lu Xun and Hu Shi (37) . This re-evaluation of the 4th of May cardinal points, is not only an answer to the importance attributed by the “new left” to collectivism, but also constitutes a sort of counter-attack versus the party, which tends to diminish the significance, considering it a simple manifestation of patriotism against the Japanese invasion.
Li Shenzhi affirms that the ideology of the promoters of the 4th of May was the fusion between the Chinese Thought and western liberalism and it is a clear manifestation of the gradual entrance of China into the modern world.
Such reflections have lead Li to assume a positive attitude towards globalization. Unlike the “new left” which highlights the negative effects of this phenomenon, Li maintains that the events which happened between 1989 and 1992 can be interpreted as the power of information which compelled China to come out of isolation (38) .
Therefore, the most appropriate reaction to globalization is not to feed nationalistic fervour but to work to favour the modernization of the Country.
Li is worried, above all, about the tendency of the “new left” and the nationalists, in general, to over-estimate the progress achieved during the Mao era. He considers it arrogant and presumptuous of those who claim to be able to save the world through the Chinese historical and cultural patrimony.
At the same time, he is conscious of the serious repercussions that globalization can provoke, but he is convinced that the benefits will be more than the damage.
In his opinion, globalization will guarantee economic development and will create a middle class - a true revolution in the Chinese social structure. Only such an epoch-making change will be able to create the basis for the germination of good laws and democracy.
Li, in order to respond to the challenge of the new global context, underlines the necessity of making radical political reforms. He states that the greatest fault of the country is the violation of human rights. Upgrading the legislative apparatus would result in a remarkable evolution of the country’s politics, allowing China to obtain the respect of the world. To keep pace with globalization, therefore, means to found those institutions which are compatible with this process and to rely not only and exclusively on the economy. Only in this way can China stand on an equal basis with the other world powers and contribute to the construction of a new moral order through the diffusion of the fundamental values of Confucianism.
Li represents the old guard of liberalism. While the exponents of the old generation have been influenced, to a minor degree by the western tradition, the younger people have absorbed much more from it.
In this way, the liberals of the 1980’s referred to the “Economic and philosophical Manuscripts” of Marx, to the writings of the reformists of Eastern Europe and to the socialist ideas. The liberals of the 1990’s studied widely conservative thinkers like Frederick von Hayek, Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman and liberal thinkers such as Isaiah Berlin, Alexis de Tocqueville and James Madison.
Among the young intellectuals of recent years, Liu Junning stands out - editor of the principal Chinese liberal magazine “Res Publica” (Gonggong luncong) and was a researcher at the Institute of Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, until 2000, when he was compelled to resign due to the mounting inflexibility of the cultural climate.
By his side stands Qin Hui, professor at the Humanistic Studies Department at the University of Peking.
Liu firmly believes that the expansion of capitalism will permit the gradual elimination of the too evident differences between the rich and the poor and of all the privileges enjoyed by the elite.
Qin shares this position, but stresses the necessity to put beside the purely economic globalisation, the globalisation of democracy, social assistance and information.
He maintains that the liberalization of the market is a process which will inevitably involve the political, social and cultural sectors and, therefore, it is unthinkable to neglect the repercussions that it will produce in those areas (39) . From this perspective, to put into practice an exclusively economic globalisation would signify the provocation of serious imbalances (40) .
Qin reflects, with great lucidity, also on international politics. He notes that America is now the target of sharp criticism because it considers itself a sort of international police and utilizes the pretext of the “defence of human rights” to pursue its interests. In his opinion, this criticism has certain logic. However, not impeding one state to keep humanity under control would mean allowing any country (including dictatorships) to act freely, plunging the world into chaos (41) .
To avoid a similar degeneration, it is necessary to turn to liberalism, a system in which human rights, freedom and democracy are valued more highly than profit (42) . Although China will not be able to sustain the elevated consumption which characterizes the western democracies, nevertheless, it could take advantage of its benefits (43) . According to Qin, in fact, the greater part of the Chinese problems, including the ethnic clashes, the shortage of natural and financial resources, are essentially caused by the stagnation of the democratic process (44) .
From this report, it is seen that the Chinese liberals put the accent on the positive aspects of globalisation although they are aware of its limits. This vision is in common with their colleagues across the Ocean; among whom, we recall Anthony Giddens and Kenichi Ohmae (45) .
In their opinion, three centuries of industrialization and modernization have obtained excellent results in the West, generating, apart from an elevated economic wellbeing, such phenomena as the informatics revolution, the proclamation of the human rights, the secularization, the free market and the diffusion of liberalism.
Looked at in this way, globalization is not considered only an advantageous phenomenon, but also a desirable one, since, notwithstanding its faults, it has improved the living conditions of the world population.
Principal differences between
the “new left” and “liberalism”
As we have shown in the preceding paragraphs, the positions assumed by the “new left” and “liberalism” are substantially irreconcilable.
This contrast derives, above all, from their divergent analyses of the relations between capitalism and power.
The members of the “new left” are strongly critical towards the growing mixture between politics and economy and they do not believe in the conception of capitalism as a remedy to all the evils of the country.
The most important accusation that they make against the liberals is, in fact, that of not taking into account social justice in their request to extend private property.
On the other hand, liberals are convinced that the exponents of the “new left” have turned their back on the Enlightenment tradition of the 4th of May.
They neglect such values as individualism and democracy, which are essential to carry out efficient economic and political reforms and put the accent, exclusively, on the needs of community, dusting off the Maoist doctrine.
Such a tendency is functional to the policy of the government, which oscillates between an opening towards capitalism and repeated confirmations of its loyalty to Maoism. For this reason, the liberals accuse them of cooperating, more or less openly, with the Establishment (46) .
One more reason of disagreement has been the entrance of China to the W,T,O., which has provoked opposite reactions within the two currents.
On the basis of the developments of the negotiations with W.T.O., the “new left” severely criticized Prime Minister Zhu Rongji (47) and the entire Chinese leadership for the excessively compliant attitude towards the requests and conditions imposed by U.S.A. For example, China conceded the absence of prohibitions regarding the commercial activities of foreign companies, after three years of permanency in the country.
However, the main obstacle was the entrance of American agricultural products into the Chinese market.
China tried to maintain its position of a “developing country”, in order to be entitled to more generous subsidies to finance the increment of internal agricultural production (such subsidies reach up to 10% of the production value). The U.S.A. simply replied with a request for compliance with the limit of 5%, which is normally destined to industrialized countries. Finally, a compromise was found: subsidies will oscillate between 7% and 8,5% of the production value, according to the products and the areas cultivated (48) .
According to the “new left” such remissive conduct reflects the inclination by the government to side with the Americans and with the West (qin Mei qinxifang), forgetting the interests of the Mother Country (49) .
Cui Zhiyuan stated that, under these conditions, the benefits of the access to W.T.O. are reduced and that, instead, the price to pay is very high. For example, since this institution protects the foreign intellectuals’ rights of property, the Chinese high-tech sector would be disadvantaged. Furthermore, the presence in the W.T.O. will compel the further opening of the Chinese financial market, impeding the country to utilize the expedient of capital control in the case of catastrophic events like the Asian crisis.
It is now the diffused opinion that the U.S.A. have decided to admit China to the W.T.O., after a good 15 years of wavering, because the globalisation strategy encountered enormous difficulties in 1998: Japan requested aid for the countries which were more harshly hit by the financial crisis of 1997. Hong Kong pushed back the assault of foreign speculators, Malaysia announced the ‘go-ahead’ of control on capital etc.
W.T.O., therefore, is conceived as a network which permits the West, and above all, the U.S.A., to control global economy in an always more capillary manner. To enter W.T.O means to offer the U.S.A. the possibility of interfering at will in Chinese internal matters (50) .
On the contrary, liberal intellectuals have always supported entrance to the W.T.O. For example, Liu Jiunning has affirmed that this event will produce numerous positive effects: the separation of economy from politics, the increase of transparency in economic transactions and political agreements, the widening of the legislative apparatus and the reduction of corruption. Such a card will have to be played by the government, immediately, to allow the country to be on an even standing with the western powers.
From the analysis of the debate on globalisation in China, it is possible to understand the reactions of the intellectuals to the great transformations produced by the global market expansion in a country in continuous tension, pulled between the race towards modernity and respect for its own historical and cultural tradition.
Notwithstanding, the frequent reference to the Western school of thought, the Chinese have managed to analyse the problems which plague their country in an attentive and punctual manner, drafting original solutions which reveal an attempt to combine the needs of the Chinese continent with the strong external pressures.
Both sides believe that to abandon globalization would not be a viable option because the interlacement of interests that supports it, is too difficult to unravel. Such change in direction would not even be desirable because this phenomenon has produced not only problems but also advantages. Therefore, reform is necessary, but to carry out such an ambitious objective, a global sensitivity to the inherent dangers of mal-management, is absolutely essential.
In this sense, the task of divulgation and sensitization done by the Chinese and Western intellectuals is fundamental.
In a world grappling with one of the greatest crises of its history, it is the moral duty of the intellectuals to elaborate solutions and convince global citizens to reflect upon the processes underway.
The proposal of Wang Hui and of the members of the “new left” is particularly deserving of attention. In promoting the revival of the Maoist ideology, the intellectual panorama of the world is enriched by the contribution of a nation which has overcome many crises, adapting itself to the circumstances without ever losing sight of its history and tradition.
And it is just to this historical and cultural heritage that China must hold firmly, to avoid being engulfed by the wave of globalization and its internal contradictions, demonstrating its own competitiveness, not only in the economic sphere, but also in the sphere of ideology.
(1) Compare ref: Maurizio Marinelli,“The Chinese Intellectuals and the Debate on Globalization”in Mondo Cinese 110 January-March 2002 Year XXX, n.1, pages 40-41. (2) Compare ref: Marie-Claire Bergère – The People’s Republic of China from 1949 to Our Day, 1st ed., Armand Colin, 1989 (3rd ed. 2000) translated into Italian by Giorgia Viano Marogna (1949-1999) Bologna, Il Mulino, La Repubblica popolare cinese, 2000, pages 372 and 381. (3) Angela Pascucci, “Economy 2005, What World Will it Be”, Il Manifesto, 7-1-2005, www.ilmanifesto.it (4) Compare ref. idem. (5) Compare ref: Joeph Fewsmith, China since Tiananmen – The Politics of Transition,Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001, page l43. (6)C ompare ref: Merle Goldmanand Leo Ou-Fan Lee, An Intellectual History of Modern China, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002, pages 505-506 and pages 526-527. (7) Compare ref. Merle Goldman and Leo Ou-Fan Lee – work cited in (6) page. 527 and Joseph Fewsmith –work cited in(5), pages 1554-156. (8) Compare ref: Wang Hui "Dangdai Zhonguo de sixiang zhuangkuang wenti yu Xiandaixing wenti" (Il Pensiero cinese contemporaneo e la questione della Modernità) in Tianya-1997. N.5.page 134. For the translation, I referred to the English version by Theodore Huters, “Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity” , in Wang Hui and Theodore Huters, “China’s New Order – Society, Politics and Economy Transition”, Cambridge, Harward University Press, 2003, page 144. (9) Compare ref: Wang Hui and Theodore Huters – work cited in (8) pages 142-143. (10) Compare ref: Danilo Zolo, “Globalization – A map of the problems”, Bari, Gius, Laterza & Figli Spa.2004,pgs.15-17. (11) The expression “Movement of May 4th,1919”, refers to the demonstrations organized on that date at Peking against the hard conditions imposed on China by the Treaty of Versailles, which ratified the end of the 1st World War; it refers also to the cultural turmoil which followed, characterized by the adoption of Western models as a form of break from the Confucian tradition, considered the principal cause of the backwardness of the country. It is believed that with this Movement the modern China was born. (Compare ref: Jonathan Spence, “The Search for Modern China”, New York, W.W. Norton, 1990, pages 299-308. (12) Compare ref: Danilo Zolo, work cited in (10), pages 111-113. (13) The term ’neo-liberalism’ and its derivations indicate the progressive ‘closing the gap’ between the the intellectual liberal Chinese of the 1980’s and the Western neo-liberalism, which promotes the diffusion of the global capital and of the regulations, refusing any form of extremism. Such a doctrine corresponds to the moderate and conservative thinking of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, ref: Xudong Zhang,work cited,page 16-28. Some scholars use the term ‘neo-liberals’ to refer to the supporters of the free market of the 1900’s (ref.Wang Hui and Theodore Huters, work cited. Pg.27), others use the term ‘liberals’, without distinguishing between the intellectuals of the 1980’s and those of the 1990’s, (ref.Maurizio Marinelli, work cited, pgs42-43), others use the term in a more generic way, ‘liberals’. (ref. Joseph Fewsmith, work cited,pgs 122-131). (14) Ref. Note (8) pgs. 3-4. (15) Ref. Wang Hui work cited, page 135. (16) Ref.idem,pages 135-136. (17) The Great Leap Forward 1958-1960, was an economic policy which aimed at developing in a short time, the agricultural and industrial sectors, through the general mobilization of the population. The objective was very ambitious; to increase production to such a point as to ‘overtake England within 15 years’. Due to management errors, this strategy caused thousands of deaths and a delay of approximately a decade in the ‘march’ of the Country towards modernization. (ref. Marie-Claire Bergère, work already cited,pages 110-111). (18) Ref:Wang Hui already cited, page 136. (19) Ref: idem, page 128Ref: Tony Saich, Governance and Politics of China, N.Y. Palgave, 2001, pg.52. (20) Ref: Wen Tie Jun, Wang Hui, Qin Hui, “Zhongguo neng fou zouchu Yitiao dute de daolu” ,(China can take an alternative route, or no), in Tianya, 2003, no. 4. page 57. (21) Ref: Wang Hui and Theodore Huters, already cited, page 18 & 128. (22) Ref: idem, page 128. (23) Ref: Danilo Zolo, already cited,page 23. (24) Ref: idem,page 127. (25) Ref: DaniloZolo, already cited,pages 113-135. (26) Ref: Joseph Fewsmith, already cited, pages 118-122. (27) Ref: Maurizio Marinelli, already cited, page 42. (28) Ref: Danilo Zolo, already cited, pages 15-17. (29) Ref: Han Shao Gong “ Dier jilishi- ‘Ku’de wenhua xiandaizhier” The Second Level of History –The cultural modernity of being ‘cool’, Dashu 1998. no.3. page 49. (30) Ref: idem,pages 51-52. (31) Ref: idem, pages 8-9. (32) In 1992, the President of the People’s Republic of China, Deng Xiaoping made a journey to the south of China during which he relaunches the economic reform which was suspended after the Tian an Men Square incident in 1989. (Ref: Marie-Claire Bergère, already cited, pages 374-75. (33) Ref: Joseph Fewsmith, already cited, pgs 122-123. (34) Ref:Maurizio Marinelli, already cited, page 43. (35) Note (13), page 6. (36) Ref: Li Shenzhi, Reignite the Torch of Enlightenment –In Commemoration of the 18thAnniversary of the May 4th Movement”, in Contemporary Chinese Thought, vol.33. no.2 Winter 2001-2002, page 15. (37) Ref: Joseph Fewsmith, already cited, pages 123-124. (38) Ref: idem,page 125. (39) Ref: Qin Hui “Duoyuanhua de quanqiuhua” (The Variety of Globalization) In Ershiyishiji 2003, no. 2. page 139. (40) Ref: idem, page 138. (41) Ref: idem, page 139. (42) Ref: WenTie Jun, Wang Hui , Qin Hui, already cited, page 56. (43) Ref: idem, page 60. (44) Ref: idem, page 62. (45) Ref: Danilo Zolo, already cited, pages 4-5 and page 14. (46) Ref: Xudong Zhang, already cited, pgs. 54-55 & Joseph Fewsmith, already cited,pgs.128-131. (47) Zhu Rongji becomes Prime Minister in 1998 and gives priority to restructuring stateenterprises and opening to the international market. (Ref: Marie-Claire Bergère, already cited,pg. 483. Today, this office is covered by Wen Jiabao. (48) Ref: Romeo Orlandi, “The adhesion of China to the W.T.O.”, in Mondo Cinese 108, July-September, Year XXIX, no. 3.page 28. (49) Ref: Joseph Fewsmith, already cited, page 215. (50) Ref: idem, pages 214-217 and Joseph Fewsmith, “The Political and Social Implications of China’s Accession to the W.T.O.”, in the China Quarterly, September 2001, no.167, pgs.573-591.