A BREATH OF CHINA
The new issue of OZ is called 'A Breath of China". Under this slightly ambiguous title, the editors have sought to combine two fairly different themes. The first has to do with the fact that the rapidly transforming China is obviously "breathing down the neck" of the developed world, and it would be interesting to get an insight as to just how big an impact China’s rapidly rising economic power will have on the world order, and what challenges will confront Russia in the face of this re-emerging reinvented ancient giant. Secondly, the editors have sought to provide the reader with a feel of what contemporary China really is, "what it breathes" — a China about which the Russian public often harbors the most outlandish of misconceptions. Needless to say, we couldn’t hope to fully cover these ambitious topics within a single issue, and we will gladly revisit this theme at some future date.
Yakov Berger. Prospects for Political Reform in Modern China
China’s current political regime is described as post- totalitarian technocratic neo-authoritarianism. The neoauthoritarian regime has proved its ability to move the country forward along the path of modernization while providing the required level of political and social stability. However, there is a clear need for China to implement major political reform. This need is driven by changes sweeping other major spheres of public life. The state in China has always been an ethical, rather than a political institution, with politics almost exclusively perceived as nothing more than an act of administration. In principle, this is true also of other Confucian culture based Asian countries where citizens may enjoy a greater or lesser degree of individual freedom, but the realm of politics as a specific sphere of public life, as a space for differing competing political forces, is fairly limited. That is why political reforms that involve mere institutional changes without affecting the moral and ethical values of the ruling elite would have little chance of success. One can confidently predict a further strengthening of current tendencies towards a greater emphasis on tradition, given the introduction into political discourse of concepts like "public harmony" - concepts that are obviously the product of traditional Chinese public thinking and culture. China is on a quest to discover its own specific path to political transformation that would be rooted in its historical and cultural traditions. It is quite possible that by combining the principles of traditional culture with a legitimate modem political framework and market economy, China will create an entirely new development model, one that would not only achieve a most efficient system within China’s own boundaries, but would be capable of transcending national borders and challenging other civilization models. In that case, the main competitive challenge to the Western world would no longer come from Communism which has been economically defeated, but rather from those Asian societies that combine free market economy with a new brand of transformed authoritarianism.
Joshua Cooper Ramo. Brand China
The author believes that the biggest strategic threat to China is its current national image. China is still generally perceived as either a country of Mao Tse-tung militants, the "last Communist bastion on earth", or some exotic mix of Fu Manchu and kung fu. The Chinese system is thought to be "no place for doing honest business", and Chinese goods are considered to be shoddy and manufactured using old technologies. As a result, China finds itself unable to "win trust" even where its behavior conforms to international community standards as when the Chinese Government takes painful decisions on issues like currency reforms or nuclear weapons proliferation. On the other hand, when China’s actions do go against international norms, they provoke far greater condemnation outside the country than inside, often leaving Chinese strategists utterly perplexed. This lack of reputational capital increases the risk of derailing reforms, and raises the likelihood of political instability. The author identifies problem areas where stereotyped negative perceptions have overshadowed China’s real image, and offers a way out of this predicament by suggesting that China create a new image of itself based on the concept of "constant renewal".
Andrei 0. Vinogradov. Branding In the Era of Phase Transition
A multitude of myths casting China as a threat to the rest of the world can be explained not so much by any real apprehensions felt about China’s rapid rise in stature, as by the current state of Western community itself, by the Wfestem public desire to perpetuate these misconceptions, something that makes the job of a country’s rebranding extremely difficult, both for China and for Russia. Such Wfestem attitudes can be mostly explained by rapid changes currently sweeping the world, coupled with an increasing uncertainty in international relations. Many researchers call this state of affairs an era of phase transition. During a phase transition era, political elites and expert communities become disoriented as "linear" prognostication methods no longer work, while no alternative methods have so far been provided by political and economic science.
Vasily Mikheev. China’s Role in a Globalizing World
The year 2007 marked a radical shift in China’s foreign policy strategy. The 17th Party Congress turned away from a confrontational and alarmist approach to the modem world, noting that China is "against any form" of hegemony and does not seek any domineering role for itself. The "fourth generation” Chinese leaders regard the modem world from a novel standpoint, that of "competition and cooperation" between states. From now pn, China’s key goal will be greater competitiveness of its economy, with major foreign policy objectives for the coming years set to normalize relations with USA, Central Asian nations, and Russia. In the opinion of the Chinese, a strategic partnership with Russia is hampered by an "imbalance between internal development in China and Russia", with China seen as a "rising", and Russia a "declining" power. Russia’s inability to "come up with an adequate economic strategy" "impedes strategic partnership". The greatest threat facing Russia comes from China’s new and more sophisticated economic expansion which is replacing the traditional expansion of cheap low quality Chinese goods. China’s current new economic expansion is driven, first, by a rapid growth in Chinese economy’s investment, financial and commercial potential, and, secondly, by an upsurge in trade and investment between Russia and China in recent years.
Pavel Felgengauer. The ''Chinese Threat": A Military Technical Aspect
The development of Russia’s military technical cooperation with China has not been easy. Russia’s Military- Industrial Complex has been willing to sell, but both the general public and the government have remained fearful of China and the Chinese - especially strong were those fears among Russia’s military who had been trained in readiness for a showdown with the 50 million strong, battle-ready Chinese People’s Liberation Army seen as the main enemy land force in Eurasia. These fears were compounded by the fact that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Chinese launched, in former Soviet Republics and, above all, in Russia proper, an unprecedented campaign to gather military and industrial intelligence and recruit intelligence sources. Following the year 2000, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Russian military have developed a fairly good working relationship at various levels, but major problems have persisted. Despite many years of strenuous efforts, the Chinese have not succeeded in obtaining from Russia a whole range of weapons systems they badly need. These have included, notably, powerful medium range naval weapons systems, and the latest modernized fighter-bombers that Russia has supplied to India, China’s strategic adversary. As a consequence, recent years have seen a severe crisis in the arms trade with China. Over the past three years, Peking has not signed any major new weapons contracts, and has refused to convert previous contract options into firm orders. Meanwhile, there is no particular threat to Russia in maintaining military technical cooperation with China. A real threat to Russia’s Far East could emerge only if the Chinese economic boom were to end in a depression followed by a political crisis within the Party power structure caused by growing social, inter-regional, and ethnic conflicts.
Yakov Berger. China’s Innovation Prospects
Despite China’s enormous strides, its economy is still far from achieving success in terms of innovation - an assertion the article explores at great length. While China does acquire huge amounts of new technologies, it does not use them to produce any of its own know-how — unlike South Korea, for example. Chinese business investments into science and technology are still fairly insignificant, and most projects are limited to design and experimental developments only. The Chinese leadership understands the problem and has been making considerable efforts to meet the innovation challenge by optimizing structures, concentrating funds and resources along the most promising areas of scientific research, increasing science budgets, and improving the education system.
Olga Borokh. The Chinese Economist’s Progress
As the article points out, China is no longer confining its ambitions to economic production. The Chinese leadership has set its sights on the so-called "enhancing of soft power", i.e. developing the country’s intellectual potential, notably in the sphere of humananities. There have already been significant successes. Notably, China has seen the emergence of its own indigenous economic think tank that has been largely instrumental in many of the country’s achievements. Its most prominent representative, Yifu Lin (the article goes in great depth into his career accomplishments) has recently been appointed to a high-ranking post in the IM F, the fact that is not only an indication of his personal economic skills, but also a recognition of the impressive heights reached by the Chinese economic school of thought.
Elena Bazhenova. Andrei Ostrovsky. China’s Manpower Resources
A close look at the population dynamics in modem China, in terms of gender, age and education, suggests that by 2020, China will be facing a labor shortage. China’s demographic polices adopted during the 1970s have led to a decline in population growth rates and have resulted in a lopsided population age structure, whereby by the year 2020, 60 plus year-old age groups will constitute a significant, over 25 per cent, share of the population, resulting in a shortage of younger age cohorts. Russia’s expanding trade and economic ties with China will no doubt increase the Chinese diaspora on Russian territory. But if China’s economy continues to boom, all talk of a "Chinese threat" to Russia will be simply groundless, and there will very little likelihood of a mass migration from China into Russia.
Ekaterina Fortygina. Environmental Issues Facing China
A population exceeding one billion and a rapidly developing industry inevitably put the environment under a lot of pressure. A major source of environmental damage is coal-burning emissions, coal being China’s major source of energy. Most Chinese cities are suffocating with polluted air, and fields and forests get poisoned by acid rain. The ecosystem is devastated by waste, both industrial and domestic. Until recently, waste products were discharged into streams and rivers without practically any treatment. It was only in the past decade that the authorities have started dealing with environmental issues, now that the country can well afford it. The article quotes figures indicating that China’s environment is beginning to show signs of gradual improvement, although a rapid rise in consumption has created new environmental issues.
Jonathan Anderson. China and Food
To date China is a net exporter of soft commodities and foodstuffs. Over the past few years due to specific policy factors China has kept domestic agricultural production high. The author believes this will change. The main factors are falling land supply, only moderate scope for further yield gains, rising caloric intake, reallocation of production out of grains and into other food areas, and finally a looming long-term water shortage in China. AU of these trends should eventually result in higher grain imports. Although 11 to 15 % y/y trend import growth in overall foodstuffs, and even higher rates of increase in grain imports are expected, this wouldn’t really affect global import prices and shipping rates in the near term.
Sergei Toroptsev. Locus of Culture in Chinese Mentality
The author has been among the first researchers in Russia to explore Chinese ethnopsychology. In his examination of basic values inherent in the Chinese mentality, Toroptsev quotes widely from numerous Russian and overseas ethnopsychologists. The author describes Chinese culture as collectivist, ritual-based and rigidly hiararchical. The article also touches on the conflict between Confucian and Daoist values coexisting side by side in the Chinese national character. The author stresses the defining role played by China’s cultural vertical hierarchy linking human creativity with celestial heights, and illustrates this assertion with examples from Chinese medieval poetry.
ViIya Gelbras. People’s Republic of China: Social Consequences Of "Reforms and Openness "
Extraordinary successes of the Chinese economy have been achieved largely thanks to millions of peasants flocking to cities at the outset of reforms. They were willing to accept low pay and appalling working conditions. The state had absolved itself of any commitments or responsibility either to them, or to peasants who stayed behind in rural communities. However, the Chinese government has recently realized that backwardness in the social sphere is putting the country’s development in jeopardy. The article scrutinizes the Chinese leadership’s social policies in recent years, and concludes that the situation of the poorest sections of Chinese population has seen a steady, albeit slow, improvement.
Olga Pochagina. The Family: New Forms, New Values
The article provides a comparative analysis of traditional and post-traditional marriage and family patterns in China, based on 15 criteria (the role of sexual life; choice of a marriage partner; marriage basis, objectives and expectations; family forms; the significance of marriage and family for an individual; stability of the marriage and family institution etc.) identifying major trends in the transformation of the CMnese family and its attendant marriage and family values. The author considers the extent of changes taking place in the marriage and family sphere, and concludes that modem family in China has been increasingly moving away from the traditional family model in favor of world trends in family pattern evolution.
Leonid Gudoshnikov. Metamorphosis of China’s Civil Service
The article looks at the tortuous process of developing a set of rules and regulations designed to overhaul the Chinese civil service system. The drafting of China’s Law on Civil Servants (enacted in 2006) was a major element of an administrative reform aimed at fighting corruption within the state apparatus, although some major features of the reform — including tests for civil service applicants, a set of transparent criteria for appointing to and removing from office, periodic performance reviews, and staff rotation - had been tried out as early as in the 1980s and 1990s. The article also provides an analysis of a Party directive regulating the recruitment and appointment of top officials in the Party and Government hierarchy (Directive dated 9 July, 2002).
Guobin Yang. How Do Chinese Civic Associations Respond to the Internet?
Based on survey data collected from October 2003 to January 2004, this article provides the first systematic empirical analysis of how civic associations in urban China have responded to the Internet. It shows, first, that urban grassroots organizations are equipped with a minimal level of internet capacity. Secondly, for these organizations, the internet is most usefiil for publicity work, information dissemination, and networking with peer and international organizations. Thirdly, social change organizations, younger organizations and organizations in Beijing report more use of the internet than business associations, older organizations and organizations outside Beijing. Finally, organizations with bare-bone internet capacity report more active use of the internet than better-equipped organizations. These findings suggest that the internet has had special appeal to relatively new organizations oriented to social change and that a "web" of civic associations has emerged in China.
Sergei Toroptsev. New Cinema for New Man
Since its creation in 1905 and until the 1980s, Chinese cinema had developed mostly in the Confucian tradition, taking its cue from the public who were used to didactics and from the authorities who regarded art as a means to educating the populace. The totalitarianism of the 1950s to 1970s altered the slogans, but left the conservative statist esthetics virtually unchanged. In the 1980s, free market forces and democratic processes transformed the national mentality and set the groundwork for the emergence of a "new cinema" which no longer depicted a "person vis-a-vis the state”, but rather a "person vis-a-vis himself, i.e. a personality acting on inner psychological impulses. In recent years, Chinese cinema has joined the world cinema process.
Pyotr Orekhovsky. Omsk Seen Through the Eyes of an Engineer: A Story of Quality Control
Why are large Russian cities are so different from one another? The author maintains that the main reason lies in the differences of their specific social communications structure. The article centers around an interview with Nina Kudriavtseva, former Senior Engineer at the Omsk Centre for Standards and Metrology with the USSR Standards Committee. The interview attempts to analyze communications within the Soviet era engineer community, and to trace the rise and fall of the "struggle for quality assurance" campaign and its impact on the demise of the USSR economy as a whole.
Maya Berzina. Austria, A Memoir
The final installment of the memoir, dealing with the family’s stay in Austria where her father, Yan Berzin was serving as ambassador. Most of the embassy staff used their diplomatic status as a front for engaging in other activities. Yan Berzin once even complained in his daughters presence that he had no chance to do real diplomatic work. These, however, were adults’ problems. As for Maya, she strolled around Vienna, learned German and Latin, attended yet another "progressive" school, went to theatres and concerts. And all the while she felt happy that her far-away Russia was taking advantage of the New Economic Policy to 'Ъесоте a more civilized and prosperous country".
Aida Ipatova. Russian Christian Mission in Beijing
Established in 1715 to cater for a small Russian community in Beijing, the mission played an important role in fostering a peaceful relationship between Russia and China. The mission’s activities in the spheres of diplomacy, science and education encouraged a tranquil course of inter-civilization dialogue between China and Russia, as well as the bridging and cross-fertilization of the two cultures.
Igor Kurakin. A Routine Case
The article presents the text of a typical mid-18th century letter of political denunciation, and examines the way it was investigated.