Week 6. China's Democratisation: Implications for International Relations
Is it a fantasy to expect China's democratization through trade and engagement with the West?
It is rather difficult to consider trade as being a democratization tool. Indeed at the moment, political affairs and economic affairs are connected and interdependent. However, China represents a totally different political system and is one of the most important actors on the global economic scene.
The East -- West confrontation represented in the beginning an ideological confrontation between what communist and capitalism stood for in terms of human rights, economic practices, but most importantly political views. During the Cold War, the bipolar system of the world refused to accept any ties, other than symbolic UN -- type of communications between the two poles. Still the U.S., especially during the period of President Nixon reestablished ties with communist China, regardless of its ideological differences. This comes to point out that history and general practice is by no means an issue to be acknowledged fully in arguing for or against an opinion. At the same time though such an example points out that neither the West has changed, nor the Chinese government has taken any action for democratic rule.
The economic perspective has chanced however dramatically. In this sense, the Chinese communist perceptive in terms of liberalization of the markets has changed and is now encouraging practices used in First World countries. This proves that given the right incentive, a perspective and practice can change.
Even so, it is difficult to consider that China will become a democratic country by engaging in trade and economic relations with the West. At the moment, practicing a semi-communist system represents an effective way of being one of the most important countries in the world on the trade market. There is little reason for why this situation is to change. Furthermore, there is no incentive to argue for such a change as long as China controls most of the trade and goods manufacturing in the world. Therefore, it can be said that indeed, the current situation in China may not change so rapidly at least, solely due to the commercial ties it has with western democracies around the world.
Week 7. Global governance and the 'China' challenges: human rights,
environment, and energy and resources
Is China a key obstacle to process on global environment?
The issue of the environment is crucial in this era of globalization particularly because it offers a grim perspective on the way in which natural resources have become a scarce resource and an extremely expensive one. In this sense the Kyoto Protocol represented a milestone at the time of its inception. However, regardless of its lofty initiative, it failed to attract the most important support of the most industrialized countries and those countries which are the biggest energy consumers, among which China.
China represents indeed an obstacle to global environment because it consumes a lot of energy given the magnitude of its economy. Given the nature of its industries and the rapid development of the country, China has become a burden for the environment.
Action must be taken in order to ensure that the Chinese government pays attention to such issues as global environment and sustainable development. According to David Zweig and Bi Jianhai "Twenty years ago, China was East Asia's largest oil exporter. Now it is the world's second-largest importer; last year, it alone accounted for 31% of global growth in oil demand" (p1). This is an important and negative development in terms of energy consumption, given the strong initiatives taken at the levels of other governments to support alternative energy or a reduction in gas emissions.
Unlike other countries which are trying to control their oil consumption, China is trying to find new ways of importing it. Indeed, the fast pace of economic growth must be maintained through the use of energy supplies which are very cost efficient such as oil. However, this economic growth is done at the expense of environmental policies which are not crucial for a country which exceeds the average economic growth every year, regardless of the effects of the economic…