Interregional Linkages in a Changing Global System
Edited by Peter W. Preston and Julie Gilson
CHAPTER 8 12/9/01 9:04 am Page 1 8. China: the politics of ‘rational authoritarianism’ Zhao, Chenggen and Sean McGough INTRODUCTION This chapter tracks political and economic reforms within China, in order to cast light upon a key national actor in the future development of Asia-Europe relations. It demonstrates how Western models of democracy and governance may be ill suited to conditions within Asia, and that, therefore, a novel form of accommodation needs to be sought in order to place Europe-Asia linkages on a more equal footing. In defining their future relations, the need to find compromises between these different systems will be crucial, even in an era of globalization. An analysis of China’s domestic changes, and the difficulties inherent in its attempted transitions, should serve as a lesson for future interaction between European and Asian counterparts. Political and economic reforms were a widespread feature of the 1980s, both for liberal democratic countries and Communist countries. The reforms were put in place in a response to political and economic crises in these countries. In the late 1970s, all the main countries in the world faced a deep crisis. Western liberal democratic models based on the Keynesianism of the 1930s, and emphasizing state intervention in the economy and social welfare, were challenged by the decline of economic growth, governmental overload and ungovernability. The legitimacy of democratic governments and even the capitalist system itself was being challenged by its apparent failure to meet the demands of the contemporary world. At the same...
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