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The East African : April 14th 2014
The EastAfrican MAGAZINE APRIL 12-18,2014 books V A Chinese-built highway in Kenya. China is now a big development partner for African countries much to the chagrin of Western powers. ways of law and order first were far from gone from China’s leadership manual. Although Deng Xiaoping and China suffered reputational dent in the sense for China’s search for relevance and respect as a peaceful and democratic nation, the quest for prosperity that he unleashed sent China into a burst of economic growth that brought it to its long desire of the Chinese to the “wealth and power” dreams. Xiaoping’s cultivated protégés Top left: Passengers board a China Railway High-speed train at the Qingdao Railway Station in Qingdao city Shandong province. The government has modernised almost all sectors of the economy; Above: A Chinese worker assembles an electric car in Shandong province. The govtdriven economic revolution has seen major growth in the country; Top right: Chinese oil exploration in Kenya. Picture: File who as his successors largely followed this path of economic reforms first, brought China to where it is today. Thus, China embarked on the tive destruction phase that China needed to launch itself into the desired progress towards wealth and power that it had sought for almost two centuries. It was this idea of action and power which led Mao Zedong to lead China into the eras of the Great Leap Forward (1958) as an economic rethink and redesign of the country’s economic foundations and the cultural revolution (1966) for reordering of the citizens’ mindset. Though it cannot be said that either of those wish-lists were particularly successful, Mao Zedong is without argument the single Chinese on whose shoulders whatever economic take-off China would experience after his death can be said to have been launched. Mao’s followers in office, Deng Xiaoping in particular, built upon his predecessor’s foundations to begin the economic strengthening of China — but by reversing the ideology of the cultural revolution. Taking as his blue-print the “Four Modernisations Agenda” focused on agriculture, industry, science and technology and national defence, Deng led the Communist party of China to appreciate and view “Fazhan” or “development” as the centre-piece of reform for China. Deng Xiaoping begun to reverse China’s centuries-old resistance to anything foreign and encouraged officials and citizens to visit abroad as a means of emancipating their minds. This lead to renunciation of class struggle and the adoption of economic empowerment as the central theme of China’s endeavours. Wary of democracy Despite this, however, China’s Communist party remained cautious about full throttle democracy, claiming it was disruptive for the economic development and not good for China. Instead, Deng Xiaoping urged that the priorities ought to have been in “economic democracy.” The protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989 shook China’s trajectory and the economic development story line. The resort to martial law and the June 4, 1989 Massacre of peaceful protestors in answer to the protests showed that the old road that led it to grow into the second largest economy in the world by the year 2011. The historical strokes painted by the authors indicate that even as it is today, China retains the internal tension between breaking out if it’s past while trying to retain a core of its traditions. The final Chinese thinker is Liu Xiaobo, who is a reminder that perhaps China’s rejuvenation is incomplete as long as it remains a country in which democratic space remains shrunken. The authors perhaps ask this question in rhetoric when they state in the final chapter that China’s break would be complete only when the rule of law, transparency and accountability of the rulers find their way into the thinking of the governance framework in China. The authors have succeeded in confirming that a nation’s improvement towards wealth and power is made from a constant state of introspection that will come with trials and even errors. Time will tell whether China has finally cracked its endeavour for unassailable wealth and power in the 21st century. China’s auto indust≥y stalls, no expo≥ts yet FOR MORE than a decade, Chinese automakers have been talking about starting large-scale exports to North America and Europe, prompting periodic worries in the West that companies like General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen might be crippled by Chinese competition the way they were by Japanese imports a generation ago. Now there are calls for protectionism but from an unexpected direction: the biggest, most politically influential Chinese automakers. Multinational corporations are steadily clawing mar- ket share from Chinese brands in their home market. The latest insurgent is Ford Motor Co., which has a joint venture based here in Chongqing. Ford has nearly doubled its market share to 4.5 per cent in the past two years by introducing new models and expanding output, selling more than 100,000 cars and light trucks in March for the first time in a single month. Ford plans to double production again in the coming year by opening two more assembly plants and one of the world’s largest automatic transmission factories. Foreign brands favoured Chinese consumers increasingly favour US brands, which have a reputation for safety, youth and international flair. The domestic brands have tended to lag in surveys of initial quality and engineering, although they are starting to close the gap. In long-term reliability, they are far behind and falling even further. Rising affluence has left consumers reluctant to accept cheaper, spartan models from domestic manufacturers. The domestic brands have been further hurt by poor crash test results for some Chinese-designed models and a series of food safety scandals that have dented public confidence in Chinese regulations. “Now that I have a child, I’m considering shifting to a safer car like a Ford,” said He Hai, a 29-year-old real estate salesman, as he browsed at a dealership. He was preparing to pay 254,800 renminbi ($41,500), including hefty Chinese taxes, for a light green Ford Kuga. China’s mostly state-owned automakers have re- sponded with an unusually public campaign of news conferences and statements by the industry trade association. They want to persuade China’s commerce ministry to retain a requirement seldom found in other top manufacturing nations: Foreign automakers may assemble cars in China only through 50-50 joint ventures with domestic partners.
April 7th 2014
April 21st 2014