Controlling the Dragon centrally and horizontally


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With a population of close to 1.35 billion people, land area of 9.7 million square kilometers and 34 divisions that include provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions, special administrative regions and also the claimed Taiwan province, China requires a strong government to ensure harmony and functionality of every aspect of the country. Two of the many interesting and complex phenomena that exist in China are the vertical control and directive from the central government and the horizontal economic and policy cooperation among provinces. This topic is being researched and published by Professor Chung Jae-Ho of the Department of International Relations at Seoul National University, South Korea. Professor Chung presented on the vertical control and horizontal cooperation of Chinese Central and local governments at Singapore Management University (SMU) on February 14, 2014, and Anna Shell Media Press had the privilege of covering his talk.

The main points of his discussion were the dynamic, the implications and opportunities that arise from strong relationships between central and local governments. Historically, the Chinese Central Government has been minimal and less monumental in providing policy and economical guidance and directives to a select few local governments, but in recent years, relationships have shifted where the Central Government connects more with all of its local governments as it accumulates more wealth and consolidates more power. This was evident with the establishment of special economic zones in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou in the Guangdong province, Xiamen in the Fujian Province and Hainan Province since 1980. But as time progresses, many other provinces have been granted similar privileges in order to enjoy the benefits of designated special economic zones. In addition, the local governments also start to establish horizontal relationships among provinces. The benefits of these relationships include special tax benefits and policy treatment by the Central government. But, despite the benefits, there are also downsides to this, mainly the competition for resources and special treatment. According to Professor Chung, after a while, the special economic zone title loses its meaning because everyone is competing to become part of it. More importantly, the implication is positive for businesses and the people of China as a whole. When local governments establish special relationships horizontally with the guidance of the Central Government, businesses can flourish and ultimately bring prosperity to the province and its people.

It was an interesting talk which explored an aspect of China not frequently reported or studied. But the bigger question remains: in the pursuit of economic growth, China has neglected many issues that could potentially make it a great nation. The most pressing issues are human rights and environmental issues. Although China continues to grow its GDP at an average rate of 7% annually, they lack the freedom of speech and expression, and things don’t seem to be getting any better (Although many would argue that they’re not getting any worse). In terms of environmental pollution, the development of many of these provinces caused bad air and water pollution. In addition, the race for resources and development has stripped many areas bare and left many villagers displaced and relocated to concentrated housing areas. We hope that China will realize the work that still needs to be done and get their act together soon.

Report prepared by Boon Hoe Chin

36 thoughts on “Controlling the Dragon centrally and horizontally

  1. It is important to note that if Chinese authorities continue to implement this Planned Birth Policy, the Chinese population will be horribly unbalanced. In a small village in the Guanxi province, 19 out of 24 births during the year 2001 were boys. China’s population of 1.2 billion people has 41 million more men than women. The Chinese generally prefer their only child to be male, particularly in the countryside where boys are of more help to the family. Therefore, female infants are often killed or left at orphanages. If this continues, the proportion of males will quickly tower over the proportion of females, leading to a vaster network of women trafficking as men scramble to find wives. Upcoming generations will have no concept of siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts. China will be an abnormal, hapless nation.

    • Birth — A Basic Human Right!!!

      To give birth is a basic human right. No government, organization, or individual should, based on political, economic, cultural, religious, and racial reasons, deprive a human being’s right to give birth. To give birth is also an act of nature, and try as we might, we cannot always control a human being’s reproductive system. To violently punish a woman and her unborn child for natural consequences often beyond their control is the epitome of cruelty. And, to hold such power in the hands of a central totalitarian regime invites far too many human rights abuses to terrify the masses.

  2. In actuality, China’s Communist political and economic system is the main reason why it can barely develop, which in turn causes an exploding population and stagnant economy. The only way to solve China’s population problem is not to strengthen Communism’s political powers, but to drastically change its irrational political and economic system.

  3. China argues in support of its population policy, saying that to become prosperous, China must curb its population growth. They claim that limited living and land resources as a result of overpopulation lead to poor education, environmental hazards, poor medical care, and a low quality of life for the population. To summarize, the Chinese government wishes that people around the world, particularly the Chinese people, could agree that overpopulation is one of the major reasons why China remains poor and corrupt. But such an argument is preposterous and entirely unacceptable.

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