This chapter presents a revisit to the key concepts and definitions of globalization, followed by an overview of literatures that concerns the impact and influence of globalization across various places and in distinct scales. By doing so, I aim to raise awareness of how different strands of globalization have shaped the new orders of economy, politics, and socio-culture. As a critical response to these classical conceptual assumptions of globalization, I suggest that China has made its unique path to globalization, and has created an outstanding example as the ‘alternative of globalization’.
What is globalization: definition and approaches
In historian’s perspective, globalization isn’t a fresh word but a phenomenon with a long history that can date back to before century. However, what we discuss here is modern globalization, coherent with the industrialization and technology development in nineteenth century. And given that the blooming of Internet technologies in last few decades, an obvious acceleration of globalization can be observed. Even though a clear and universal definition of globalization is hard to reach, some phrases can be used to encompass its meaning. Sociologist Giddens (1990) refers it to ‘the increasing global inter connectedness’; David Harvey (1989) uses ‘the compression of time and space’ to interpret the core of conceptual globalization; and Steger (2013) points out that it is ‘a complex range of processes driven by a mixture of political and economic influences’. Overall, globalization refers to processes of economic, political and social integrations that have collectively created ties that make a difference to lives around the planet (Sparke, 2013) and the increasing interdependence and interconnection at a global scale. The fact that globalization has become an inherent feature of modern era enables the assumption that globalization must be linked and understood with the reality and empirical themes. In order to navigate the massive contemporary debates on globalization, the debates can be divided into a few dimensions: 1) economic and technological globalization; 2) political and governmental globalization; 3) sociocultural globalization and 4) environmental issues caused by globalization and critical/radical or anti-globalization strand (see also Jones, 2006). Moreover, these strands are constantly and significantly intertwined with each other, which have diverse, hybrid and multiple impacts on different regions simultaneously.
Economic and technological globalization
“Nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, and establish connections everywhere… In place of the old national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, the universal interdependence of nations.” – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Communist Manifesto”, 1848 A century and a half ago, Karl Marx noted the inherent capitalist drive to every place in the world where there is a possible market. According to Marx, the profit-driven capitalism led to a specific consequence: what we call globalization nowadays. Therefore, globalization is intrinsically linked with economy and capitalism. Moreover, the most significant form of the disseminations and embodies of globalization are based on international economic commodities. After Marx, a wide variety of academics working in the fields of economics, geography, sociology and politics have contributed to this agenda. Bill Clinton, the former president of U.S has been considered as one of the most active advocator of globalization at the beginning of 21 st century. His speech at Geneva WTO Ministerial in 1998 has pointed out how globalization became more inevitably intertwined with the global economy. “Globalization is not a policy choice - it is a fact. But all of us face a choice. We can work to shape these powerful forces of change to the benefit of our people. Or we can retreat behind walls of protection -- and get left behind in the global economy. At a moment when, for the first time in human history, a majority of the world's people live under governments of their own choosing ... when the argument over which is better - free enterprise or state socialism - has been won ...” – Bill Clinton, United States Statement in Geneva WTO Ministerial, 1998 Also, this speech implicates some classical assumptions of globalization: globalization is about the liberalization and global integration of markets; globalization is inevitable and irreversible; globalization benefits everyone (… in the long run); and globalization furthers the spread of democracy in the world (See also Steger, 2014). These assumptions, along with that neoliberalism, are preset as the inherent core of globalization, together form a broadly accepted context and paradigm of globalization – a western leading, neoliberal, and unstoppable one. Base on this, a wide range of academic and policy thinkers have contributed to arguments about the nature of economic integration and the trajectory of global economy. Notably, Massey’s Spatial Divisions of Labor (1984) is a significant contribution, which interprets the most broadly accepted global economic connection in 20 th century. Massey’s study suggests that rather than drawing from the original geographic concept of spatial divisions – specializing regions in a particular industry (e.g. develop mining industry in a certain province) – the new kind of international spatial divisions of labour seeks to divide an industry/product’s producing process into different functions and place it in different regions globally. In modern economic activities, both at national and international scales, we can see firms dividing their production processes into skilled (knowledge-intensive) and less-skilled (labour-intensive) work. With the emergence and development of trans-national corporations (TNCs), this mode is spread all around the world. According to the theories of spatial divisions of Labour, after World War II, there are three waves of international industrial transfer. The first one is at the 1950s, started with the United State, transferring its textile and steel industries to Japan and German. The second one is from the 1960s to 1970s, that many labour-intense industries were transferred from developed countries to Eastern Asia and Latin America, following by some capital-intense industries transferred to Asia ‘four tigers’. In the meantime, the developed countries kept those technology-intense industries. The third one last from the 1980s till now, which due to the modularization, most of the manufacturing, labour-intense industry, and part of the technology are transferring to Asian and Latin America. Through these processes, both developed countries and some of the developing countries were able to upgrade their domestic economic and production structure in the order of labour-intense – capital-intense – technology intense. Developing countries become popular producing bases due to their low labour costs while developed countries remain in control of the key knowledge and technologies. Though some developing countries like India and China are gradually catching up by developing their own technologies, the West, especially the U.S, remains advanced. The profound influence of the international industrial transfers and the spatial specialization of production shape the flexing and fluxing modern global production/economic map (Dicken, 2015). Also, such transfers had caused massive impacts on the physical built environment of human society (Jones, 2006). Revolving around this category, there exist many sub-topics such as the studies of TNCs (Dicken, 2004, 2015); international trade (Krugman, Obstfeld, & Melitz, 2015); global finance and global agricultural food system (Goodman & Watts, 1997) and so on.
Neo-liberalism and globalization’s influences are not just limited within economy; moreover, politics and culture have been heavily affected as well. As a result of the idea of a convergence around a notion of a single ‘global human condition’ (Held and McGrew, 1993), United Nation, as well as lot of worldwide organizations such as World Bank and WTO have been found. The growing non-government Organization and inter-governmental institutions such as UN, WTO, IMF etc. have changed the nature of governance by removing certain power held by nation-states and has led many to argue that national sovereignty has been eroded (Oudraat & Haufler, 2012). This reflects to one significant feature of globalization: de- territorialization. At the same time, more regional organizations have been founded to enhance the voice of periphery regions and to promote the development within them. Thus, de-territorialization is always companied by re-territorialization. The same as economic globalization, the degree of political globalization differs, and the regional political traditions that underpin popular common sense have therefore had their role to play in differentiating the degree of political acceptance of ideals of individual liberty and free market determinations as opposed to other forms of sociality (Harvey, 2006). This led to a key debate on political globalization: whether the nation-state will change their roles in contemporary globalization or not. ‘The end of the nation-state’ was a famous obituary raised by a management guru Kenichi Ohmae, a convinced globalist, in the 1980s. However, this statement has been proved to be premature now, due to the fact that the role of the nation-state is still active under the modern neoliberalism. Sparke notes that there are some fundamental economic liberalization policies in neoliberalism, such as free trade, privatization, deregulation, austerity, reducing union power and so on (Sparke, 2013). However, not all assumptions are suitable or workable for different regions. Massey criticizes that globalization, along with its ‘engine’ neoliberalism, is aspatial, which ignore the differences and diversity among regions. These representations also depict liberalist globalization as the suitable and inevitable methods for every country (Massey, 2005). Yet we could look at China as an exception. China, where nation-state remains in steady control and maintains socialist with ‘Chinese character’, has proven to be capable of far more than just surviving from the financial crisis of 2008. The Chinese government showed its ability to recover the economy and accelerate economic growth afterwards. Since Chairman Xi came to power, his ‘powerful politics’ has been criticized by both internal intellectuals and the external press. The economist said ‘he is providing neither the country with prosperity and freedom, nor reassuring the rest of the world with stability’ 1 . Moreover, the current government of China seems to be gradually walking away from liberalism compared to where it was heading 20 years ago. Though the future of China’s globalizing process is unpredictable and stay in a myth, apparently there’re alternative paths for globalization. The nature of political globalization is that different bodies are trying to negotiate the boundaries of different kinds of governance. Another significant discussion on political globalization is the issue of ideology. Scholars have noticed that the contemporary global development industry is currently dominated by an ideology known as ‘neoliberalism’, which has become the predominate approach to thinking about and practising global development today (Power, 2003; Harvey, 2006). Neoliberalism, as a theory of political economic practices, proposes that the most advanced status of human wellbeing can be achieved by liberating entrepreneurial freedoms and skills of each individual within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade. Along with this, the state has been asked to withdraw from the market as well as other areas of social provision. But in a global scale, hegemony exists in terms of pushing neoliberal mode, a product of western, ‘developed’ countries to those ‘less-developed’ countries. In a speech in 1999, Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford, candidly remarked that “globalization” is another term for the U.S domination. Kissinger’s speech helped to show the elephant in the room through revealing the U.S-alike agenda for power and control over globalizing processes. Yet, many countries are far from being forced into any transnational trade agreement. Instead, they are anxious for U.S. investment without realizing the ideological hegemony or being willing to pay the cost. As any kind of ideology, neo-liberalism, nevertheless, is not without its critics. Empirically, countries taken the stronger neoliberal path had undergone a proven economic stagnation in 1980s (Harvey, 2006). Moreover, it has been criticized that has impelled the geographical uneven development through increasing competitive pressures and social inequality, which will be discussed further later. However, neo-liberalism, along with those representations of it such as developed, advanced, fortunate and free, still occupied most of the countries and cons of it have been treat as an unfortunate mere by-product. As Harvey notes, ‘It has been part of the genius of neoliberal theory to provide a benevolent mask full of wonderful- sounding words like freedom, liberty, choice, and rights, to hide the grim realities of the restoration or reconstitution of naked class power, locally as well as transnationally, but most particularly in the main financial centres of global capitalism’ (Harvey, 2006:119). But apparently, neo-liberalism, which proposes set the power of market free, strongly promotes the expanding of globalization.
The domination of the international conversation, not only exists in politics, but also affects the social culture. Socio-cultural globalization is another big segment of globalization debates. With the blooming trades between countries, different cultures are conveyed and spread all over the world. Then again, this process is uneven. It does not draw equally on the world’s diverse cultures in any utopian sense; the western culture occupies the dominance (Skelton & Allen, 2005). A key volume within the debates around cultural globalization is whether different cultures are becoming homogenized and standardized or not (Featherstone et al, 1995). Among which McDonaldization has been considered as a good case of it. George Ritzer introduced the concept of McDonaldization: the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world. McDonald has become a globally accepted American brand, which has been spread around the world as a part of the contemporary consuming culture and further the ‘Americanization’ (Ritzer, 2015). This process, along with other forms of dominance, which particular threat to the fragile and vulnerable cultures of peripheral, has been criticized as a western ‘cultural imperialism’ (Hannerz, 1991; McQuail, 1994 Friedman, 1994). “What do people mean when they talk about Westernisation? A whole range of things: the consumer culture of western capitalism with its now all-too-familiar icons (McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Levi Jeans), the spread of European languages (particularly English), styles of dress, eating habits, architecture and music, the adoption of an urban lifestyle based around industrial production, a pattern of cultural experience dominated by the mass media, a range of cultural values and attitudes – about personal liberty, gender and sexuality, human rights, the political process, religions, scientific and technological rationality and so on. ” – John Tomlinson, Globalised culture: the triumph of the west, 1999:23 In fact, the cultural globalization, rather than economic or political one, is the most noteworthy one in our daily experiences in a contemporary world. The blooming of Internet and the emergence of social media are the efficient tools to share and spread information and ideas all around the world. Interestingly, China has created its own social media system, using the biggest Internet firewall in the world, as it considers Western media and the value they convey as threats. However, China’s case isn’t the only one. Some cultural goods will be broader in their appeal than others, some values and attitudes are easily adopted while others are actively resisted or found simply odd or irrelevant – what is common in many Islamic societies – that they accept the western technological and consumerism culture but fiercely reject its sexual permissiveness (Tomlinson, 1999). However, while globalization is producing new global cultural linkages and commonalities, the global culture is being localized in everyday texture and composition as well (Wilson & Dissanayake, 1996), which is termed as ‘glocalization’. A big strand of globalization rejectionists is coming from the local/traditional culture protection activists. The contradictory relationship between the need to preserve local culture and the process of modernization has led to intensive cultural aggression. To understand the ‘glocalization’, the impact of globalization on local people’s everyday lives should be discussed. Rigg suggested that ‘globalization from below’ and ‘grassroots globalization’, rather than the grand level of globalization, can be an alternative narrative to embrace difference and recognize the capacity of influencing events, resisting domination, and building alternative futures on the local level (Rigg, 2007). For instance, Rigg and Nattapoolwat found that embracing the global is essential for many rural households who are land-short, faming –shy and consumption-inclined in Thailand, a highly globalized tourist country (Rigg & Nattapoolwat, 2001). Kirmse’s research on youth and globalization in central Asia suggests that the youth are often at the forefront of global cultural exchange therefore inhabiting a ‘marketplace for styles and identities’. “They consume Hollywood and Bollywood movies, listen to Russian rap music, follow ideas of ‘true Islam’, interact with Christian missionaries and engage with global capitalism and international organization” (Kirmse, 2013:16). Kirmse also calls for studies on multiple effects of cultural globalization on local lives and the distinctiveness of cultural globalization in particular places. Yet, how this globalization process manifests itself in everyday interaction need to be researched in different context, and my research aims to follow this route and answer this question.
Environmental issues and other critics
Along with the three major sub-debates above, there are some loose discussions and researches focusing on environmental issues and critical/ radical or anti-globalization. The constrained feasibility of and urging need for sustainable development in the 21st century is challenging the process of industrialization and the spatial transfers of industries. The awareness of the harms of the pollutions of industrialization to the environment has been growing. Moreover, the realization of environment being inherently global, since the ecological processes do not always follow the national boundaries and the impacts are always beyond borders. This is leading to the recognition of sharing responsibilities among communities to act and think in a global scale (Naham, Runnealls and Halle, 2007). Furthermore, the environment is intrinsically linked to economic development through providing natural resources that fuel growth and ecosystem services that underpin both life and livelihoods. From this perspective, because globalization transfers the industries that produce pollution from developed countries to developing countries, it may worsen the pollution in the receiving end. Also, environmental degradation is enhanced by the unchecked power of TNCs. To confront the global scale’s problem, such as ‘hole in the Ozone Shield’ and extreme weathers, some transnational corporates, NGOs and summits were found to put efforts on controlling the emission, setting up quota of the release of carbon dioxide and other pollutions (NRC,1999; Kates et al, 2001). The nature of environmental problem is globally related, which calls for the cooperation of the whole mankind, requires regional as well as global assessment. To understand this, studies of environmental geopolitics and sustainable development become more essential and popular in 21 st century (Adam, 1999). Sustainable development draws on both the techno-centric and eco-centric axes of environmentalism (O’Riordan, 1981). Many literatures on sustainable development propose rational, technical solutions to environmental problems (better environmental planning, and clean technologies, for example). Other proponents believe that sustainable development must involve more radical changes to economy and society. Moreover, sustainable development has already become the unavoidable challenge for nation-states, especially for developing countries, which either sacrifices their environment to promote economic growth or undertaking heavy-polluting industries from developed countries. For example, China, as the one achieved miracle economic growth in last few decades, is suffering from extreme polluted air and water as the cost of industrialization. Thus, the developing path of those countries must be rethought and self-examined. Part of critical/radical or anti-globalization strands are based on environmental issues that globalization has caused. However, there are critics among all the themes of globalization, from economic globalization brings deeper inequality, to political/ideological/cultural invasion. In my opinion, the discussions with different attitude around the similar topic should not be separated.
Global unevenness: different influence in different scales.
As discussed in the previous section, one of the strongest critical strands of globalization, is the global unevenness that globalization has caused. Though, establishing a link between globalization and inequality is fraught with difficulty. In fact, global unevenness has existed for a long time in history, since the birth of human clan society, and accelerated during the European colonial period, when huge distinctness has been made between colonist and colony. Also, how globalization is defined and how inequality is measured is hard to reach a universal answer. However, the global neoliberal economy, whose core is the capitalist economy, it could be argued, actively re-produces inequality and uneven development in a kind of ‘zero-sum’ game where for every winner there is a loser, for every place that comes to share in global wealth another is pushed out of the equation (Power, 2003). And there is a persistent fact that shows a universal tendency of increasing social inequality within the complex history of uneven neoliberalization. However, the global unevenness is an all-inclusive topic involves with all economic/political/social-culture/human right debates. And this kind of uneven situation is made by multiple factors including historic wars, trades, diplomacy, ideologies, capitalism, socialism and so on. Here my aim isn’t to use a short chapter to describe all these, which is also impossible, but to look into globalization’s influence in different scales, which is apparently uneven.
Different ‘worlds’ at a global scale
The discussion of global unevenness always reminds us there are ‘different worlds’ on the same planet. There are many different ways to name ‘the West’, as we all familiar with, such as ‘the global north’, ‘the first world’, and ‘developed countries’. And all of them are always automatically link with ‘advanced’, ‘civilized’ and ‘modern’. Oppositely, people in the global south are often introduced to global north through a list of issues such as conflicts, disease, poverty and famines (Williams et al, 2009). By noticing this, Marcus Power (2003) argues that in many ways ‘the West’ is a historical rather than a geographical construction. In a global scale, the developing gap is stunningly wide, like a famous claim of Dicken (2015), The 20 per cent of the world’s population living in the highest-income countries have well over 80 per cent of world income, trade, investment and communications technology. The 20 per cent of the world’s population living in the poorest countries has around 1 per cent. Though this claim is far from accurate, what it implies is true – that the income gap at global scale keep enlarging. Another set of data which supports this argument is that the income ratio between the richest and the poorest countries was 3:1 in 1820, while by 2007 it had grown to a staggering 92:1 (Dicken, 2015: 308) According to those who hold strong critical attitude towards neoliberalism, the mechanism that enhances inequality is neoliberalism, which inherently promotes and normalises an economic growth-first scheme where social and welfare concerns come later (Peck and Tickell, 2002; see also Harvey, 2006). Globalization, to some extent, becomes an outcome of a profit-seeking market in a global scale, leading by the states who have already gained their privileged position. For example, the emergence of international spatial divisions of labour is a consequence of the capital that seeks lower-cost labours and gaining more profits. More specifically, if capital moves seeking the highest rate of profit, and if profits were higher in developing countries, due to lower wages, then there would be net capital flowing from developed to developing countries (see also Warren, 1973). The reconfiguration of capitals and labours at global scale – performed as globalization, enlarges the income gap between skilled and unskilled labours, which often belong to different ‘worlds’. Developing countries become popular producing bases due to their low labour-costs, and gain low wages; while developed countries remain in control of the key knowledge and technologies, whose people have higher income. In Massey’s opinion, globalization is a project: by telling a tale of inevitable single trajectory, which is manoeuvred by western leading countries, this project forces the rest countries to line behind those who designs the queue, to follow the same path (Massey, 2005). By convening contemporaneous geographical differences into temporal sequence, this process turning the uneven globalization into a story of ‘catching up’. This ‘catching up’ story proposes that those developing countries are just merely at an earlier stage in the one and only narrative of developing – the neoliberal one – and they will finally catch up with the developed. “It says that Mozambique and Nicaragua are not really different from ‘us’, we are not to imagine them as having their own trajectories, their own particular histories, and the potential for their own perhaps different, future”(Massey, 2005:5). However, this is not happening, for precisely their entanglement within the unequal relations of capitalist globalization ensures that they do not ‘follow’- successful states or regions put pressure on everyone else. But what should be noticed is that globalization also has different effects within developed countries. Cole’s study shows that while New York becomes one of the biggest international cities, the employment rate in US rural area drops dramatically because those local factories left and moved to Mexico or Asia to get lower-cost labours (Cole, 2009), which will be discussed more specific in next chapter.
Globalization and its impact on the rural China
Rural and urban divide
There is a belief that globalization has tended to treat as ‘structurally irrelevant’, entire regions and countries around the world, and this is particularly true for rural areas in China, India, and Latin America (Axtmann, 1998, p.3). Therefore, the spatial aspects of globalization become relevant in the context of rural China. Several relevant questions that have social, economic, political or cultural contexts can be raised. The principal question relates to the impact of globalisation on China’s rural areas. Related questions can be raised with respect to the responses of China’s rural areas to contemporary globalisation and modernisation. Another important question relates to the influence of globalisation on China’s rurality. In other words, the daily lives of the villagers. There is literature that seeks to answer these questions specifically. Stiglizt (2015) for instance has written extensively on China’s globalisation. He argues that China has given a lot of importance and impetus to township and village public enterprises. It also ensured the limitation or reduction of social upheaval that is the result of industrialisation, through creation of industries in rural areas (Stiglizt, 2015). This ensured that there was no mass scale exodus to cities for jobs, as there was significant job creation in rural areas as well. While Stiglizt (2015) has found much to praise in the Chinese approach to globalization, Sanders, Chen and Cao (2016) are critical of the approach, on the basis of rural poverty. They argue that China shows increasing social polarity between the new millionaires and strong middle class in cities and poor people in the rural areas. One factor for this polarity is the institutional discrimination between towns and rural areas (Sanders, Chen and Cao, 2016). Another factor is the ‘invisibility of farmers’ in the cause of greater industrialization. It is argued that government policy was shaped to create newer enterprises and jobs in the cities and feed urban population as cheaply as possible. This led to the disproportionate rise in industrial output as compared to agricultural output. Another important measure that is pointed out is the government policy of hokou (household registration), which was interconnected with the labour allocation system and stopped rural dwellers from migrating to cities. It is important to mention here that the hokou system and the urban-rural divide began to break down once the economic reforms were undertaken. Although, the hokou system still survives today, it is not the only source for Chinese rural dwellers to obtain their resources, goods and services and the market economy is an important source for Chinese people for these resources (Guthrie, 2012). Sanders et al (2016) argue that Chinese government has shown a distinct urban biased policy that has forced most rural dwellers to remain in rural areas. They state that the Chinese government has followed a policy of directing resources towards urban centres, depriving rural areas of the benefit of such resources (Sanders et al, 2016, p.107). Park also writes that the Communist regime segregated rural and urban areas and organised rural residents into collectives. Despite improving access to basic health care and education, the government in order to subsidize rapid industrialization, directed investments in a manner that discriminated against agriculture and rural areas, leading to sharp differences in the living standards of urban and rural residents (Park). Moreover, despite the economic reforms initiated in 1978, much of the earlier policies are yet to be reversed. In fact, the rural-urban divide reached its peak in 2005 (Park).
Urban and Rural: at a national scale
The real effects of globalization are felt not just at the global or the national level, but also at the local level: the communities within which people struggle to meet the need of their daily live – the scale that most people make their living and create their own family, household, and social communities (Dicken, 2015). Dicken points out a fact: a person’s place of birth or residence is a key determinant of the range of ‘life chances’ that are available. “These are highly unevenly distributed across the earth’s surface at all geographical scales: between countries, within countries, even within individual cities”(Dicken, 2015: 305). All reasons that enhance the inequality at a global scale will have the same impacts at national scale – the income gap has been enlarged between the skilled and unskilled labour mainly can be referred to labours that come from urban and rural. Also, the meanings, definitions of ‘development’ vary substantially. Thus, the understanding and experiences of development across national territory and between different social groups are, in a way, “place-specific” (Power, 2003), especially for those countries who have vast territories and various ethnic groups. Here I will use China as an example. While we mention China as a whole body, no one can deny that it’s playing an active role in the world economy and becoming more and more important. However, it faces massive internal problems – it’s spectacular economic growth since its ‘opening up’ in the 1980s has created vast inequalities between different parts of the country, especially between coastal and inland areas on the one hand and urban and rural on the other hand (Dicken, 2005). To put it in another way: the miracle success of development of coastal cities in China, are absorbing all the resources and energy of the rest: labour force (including skilled one and unskilled one), natural resources, agricultural productions and so on. If we use the most common measurement of income inequality, the Gini coefficient 2 to measure China’s inequality, it reached 0.412 in 2000, while its National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stopped releasing the data, saying “income data for wealthy households was incomplete.” But a couple of months after a Chinese university reported China’s Gini coefficient reached 0.61 in 2012, the NBS started releasing the coefficients again. According to the NBS chief, ‘China’s Gini coefficient stood at 0.474 in 2012, down from a peak of 0.491 in 2008’. There are some obvious reasons can be linked to this situation. Firstly, the extent and time of opening differed. Historically, the coastal cities, the front-edge of China’s external trade, were more open than the inlands, even dated back to Qing Dynasty. When China decided to ‘open up’ in 1978, the first batch of cities were all located at the coastal line, which prior to the inlands, making them ahead of the competition. Secondly, based on the lack of natural resources, most of the inlands provinces were poorer relatively - which means the immature transportation and infrastructure – made them harder to attract foreign investors. Thirdly, like what happen in all over the world, as Sassen (2001) points out, cities are the main field of globalizing: cities have multiplied industrial sectors, while agriculture maintains a dominance in rural area. The part that globalization plays here is that the investment and ideas from foreign generate the flourishing and rapid development in coastal cities, which require more labour than ever before not only in manufacture which attracted most of FDI, but also in service sector and construction industry. The local labour force is incapable to fulfil the vacancy. Money, opportunities and different life styles fascinate the labour-force from all around the country to come to cities, particularly those from poorer region and inlands seeking for better life. The tendency brings abundant workforce to cities meanwhile harming the economy of rural or poorer region, making them hard to get rid of the poor status, because of the lacking of educated, productive human resource. Rural areas suffered most in this kind of domestic migration, since no young people like to go back, once they taste the sweet of city. The imbalance development creates a reinforcing circle – cities become richer, creating more opportunities and providing better living conditions: better education, better medical care, better infrastructures, which attracts more and more residences; while poor rural areas become poorer, losing all their labour and economic energy, finally become a vassal to the cities. In China, most cities, particularly the metropolitans, are eager to form their images of ‘global city’. Basically all of them are claiming to ‘become an international city’. They tried to do this by shaping a city with western looks, building skyscrapers and big shopping malls with world-famous luxury brands in them. For a time, whether a city has McDonald became a benchmark of developing, and now this benchmark is replaced by brands such as LV, Prada and Gucci. On the other hand, most of rural areas remain static. Most of them still rely on agriculture, and what we can see was the scene of farmlands, elder farmers, given that the youth move to cities. The only impact of globalization in these places seems to be the 2 The Gini coefficient ranges from 0, which indicates perfect equality, to 1, as maximal inequality; a coefficient of 0.4 or higher is widely regarded as an indication of severe inequality in a society. ‘harm’: loss of labour force. Otherwise, there seem no legacies of globalisation left in these rural areas.
Globalized in between? Globalization with Chinese Characteristics
Globalization has became a fact – every country has been affected, in a more or less extend. Though like Massey’ (2005) claim, ‘the world is not totally globalized’. Also, Hirst and Thompson argue that the world economy is not a truly global phenomenon, but one centred on Europe, eastern Asia and North America (Hirst & Thompson, 2002). However, this kind of critics is problematic as well. For example, as several critics have pointed out, the authors set overly high standards for the economy in order to be counted as ‘fully globalized’ (Held & McGrew, 2007). Moreover, why should a country/region need to be ‘fully globalized’ instead of partly participate in the world economy and how can one place to be defined as wholly globalized? Besides the understanding of the word globalization itself and the normative description of it, the concept of globalization should be to break into smaller, more manageable parts that contain a higher analytical value because they can be more easily associated with empirical processes. Robert Holton’s (2011) suggests abandoning all general theoretical analyses in favour of middle-range approaches that seek to provide specific explanations of particulars. In order to bring globalization to a more analytical level, some scholars of ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), KOF Swiss Economic Institute invents the KOF index of globalization, to evaluate a country’s globalizing extent by measuring economic, social and political dimensions (Dreher, Gaston & Noel, 2008). In 2016’s ranking, Netherlands is the most globalized country whose globalization index is 91.70, while China ranks 73th, whose index is 60.73. Comparing to most of European countries which are definitely leading the chart and those developing countries falling behind (mainly locate on southern/western Asian or Africa), China can be considered as a middle-level globalized, which neither completely globalized nor completely closure. Though undeniable that China’s engagements continue to spread and deepen, spatially and institutionally (Henderson, Appelbaum & Ho, 2013), this situation in ranking can reflex China’s attitude regards globalization: To benefit from it, but remain independent relatively, which I would like to call it ‘Selective globalization’. The Chinese Communist Party proposes ‘with Chinese characteristics’ as a certain way of naming the unique and localized path and policy of China. For example, ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ was created to distinguish itself from the Soviet Union’s socialism; also, ‘Socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics’ has been used to clarify that the ‘capitalist-alike-market-economy’ in China, which remains controlled by the government, is not the same as liberal market economy in western. Thus, as a country that achieve ‘obvious’ success in economy but not ‘entirely globalized’, China has become a subject attracts the attentions of economist, political scientist, and of course, human geographers of the world. Many of them have noticed that China is walking on a special path: "China, we may conclude, has definitely moved towards neoliberalization and the reconstitution of class power, albeit 'with distinctly Chinese characteristics'. The authoritarianism, the appeal to nationalism, and the revival of certain strains of imperialism suggest, however, that China may be moving, though from a quite different direction, towards a confluence with the neoconservative tide now running strongly in the US. " – David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, P151 In his A brief history of Neoliberalism, David Harvey uses a chapter named ‘Neoliberalism with Chinese Characteristics’ to interpret China’s transformation in the past few decades. Harvey marks that, by taking its own peculiar path towards 'socialism with Chinese characteristics' or, as some now prefer to call it 'privatization with Chinese characteristics', China managed to construct a form of state-manipulated market economy that delivered spectacular economic growth and rising standards of living for a significant proportion of the population for more than twenty years. But the reforms also led to environmental degradation, social inequality, and eventually something that looks uncomfortably like the reconstitution of capitalist class power. However, Harvey notices that the neoliberalization in the economy was not to be accompanied by any progress in the fields of human, civil, or democratic rights, given that the violent crack-down in Tiananmen Square by Deng at 1989, which carried out against the wishes of party reformers (Harvey, 2006). More than just a macro-level interpretation, Harvey mentions the existing and expanding gap between urban and rural under ‘neoliberalism with Chinese Characteristics’. He mentions that the rural dwellers were the least privileged and were kept separate from urban populations by way of a residency permit system which conferred many welfare benefits and rights on the latter while denying them to the former. This system also helped hold back any mass rural migration to the cities. This perspective has shown Harvey’s understanding has touched the soul of China’s post-reform era. As a country that has more than a half population are peasants, in order to understand China's urbanization and transformation, the progress of how peasants transform into citizens (or not) must be understood first. In a post-reform era, the historical class agency of the peasant as a revolutionary subject was abandoned and replaced by entrepreneurial individuals and households as farmers in a depoliticized project of modernization (REFERENCE). The transformation of peasants, which will be discussed further in the next chapter, has become a huge force in the transforming process of the whole society. The former peasants now form the biggest ‘floating people’ in the world. Undoubtedly, Harvey’s interpretation has shown a deep understanding of what happened in China. However, it lacks the explanation of how this happened, namely, by what means China achieved this ‘selective globalization’. Moreover, the connection of neoliberalism and grassroots’ response is missing. To further Harvey’s finding, by analysing the process used ‘actors system’, three significant features of ‘globalization with Chinese characteristics’ have been recognized. The first and most significant feature is that the globalization process is driven and monitored by the central and local government.
Different from many countries, where globalization happened ‘naturally’, China’s globalizing process began at a certain point and under certain order – lead by government. The country went through the ‘Great Leap Forward’ and ‘Great Culture revolution’ in 1960s-1970s, when the orders of economy and society were totally destroyed. In order to rebuilt the economy, when Deng came to power in late 1970s, the very first thing he did was to conduct the ‘open and reform’ policy, which broke the system of planned economy, and turned it into a market-orientated economy. The ‘open and reform Policy’, which Deng Xiaoping and China’s reformist leadership launched in December 1978, had been recognized as the beacon of China’s globalization process (Perkins, 1991; Howell, 1993). Besides ‘when’, the ‘where’ of opening up was selective, too. Guangdong and Fujian, two provinces located on the eastern costal of China, with geographic advantages, which have strong connection with Hong Kong and Taiwan, have become the first places to set up special economic zones (SEZ) (Kwok, 1986). Unsurprisingly, those cities took the high-speed train of globalization, undertaking conventional industries and labour-intensive industries that have been moved out from Western to developing countries such as China. Soon they became those most advance and energetic cities of China. What happened to the SEZ is a microcosm of Chinese eastern coastal areas in 1990s. With the success in special economic zones, China’s government set up more open zones in eastern coastal areas in 1985. The layout of ‘special economic zones- costal open zones-inland’ evolved gradually. In 1979, the total amount of foreign trade was 35.5 billion dollars, only 9% of GDP. But in 2000, the year before China join the WTO, it had risen to 3927.3 billion dollars, 38% of GDP. Foreign direct investment (FDI) also grew from 9.2 billion dollars in 1983 to 407 billion dollars in 2000. The rapid rising and expanding market gain the attention of capitals and the press; furthermore, researches have been conducted on China’s economy and society under globalization. Some of them indicated China as an important force in their exploration of global order changing by developing countries/Asian (Henderson, 2008; Narlikar, 2011). Moreover, China as an individual subject has been analysed and esteemed in quantities of literature (Cartier, 2001; Moore, 2002; Chow, 2002; Hu, 2007), which keep flouring recently. Nee and Opper (2007) describe the Chinese economy as ‘politicized capitalism’ in their paper on differing forms of corporate governance and the sources of investment finance. Henderson et al (2013) argue that coupled with the huge scale of resource mobilization, it is the particular nature of the ‘engine rooms’ (the state, capital, corporate forms, labor exploitation, etc.) and other features of Chinese capitalism and its social formation that mark it off from any other form that has dominated the global economy. Thomas Jefferson, the American Founding Father has aptly remarked that the best government is which governs the least. However, nearly all the scholars of Chinese studies have noticed that the Chinese government is the most significant factor in all modernizing and globalizing processes. Chow (2002) informs us that in the study of economic transformation, the role of the government needs to be stressed. Firth et al (2008) remark that the uniqueness of the Chinese economy is that corporate investment and financing decisions are significantly influenced by government intervention. Empirically, in my opinion, the embodiments of Chinese government’s steady control involving with globalization can be concluded as three characters: ‘a visible hand’, ‘the rule maker’ and ‘rule breaker’. A visible hand, is contrary to Adam Smith’s ‘an invisible hand’, refers to the government that manipulate the economy and capital flows. Though China has walked away from the planning economic, its government remains control of domestic economy by having key sectors including transportation, communication, energy, agriculture and so on in its hand. A large portion of State owned enterprises (SOEs) have been employed to remain the control of certain sector. Moreover, government’s figure can been seen clearly in domestic finance market. Though the attempt of saving the sharp plunged of domestic stock market in 2015 has failed, it shows that the government has authority to use public revenue’s money without being questioned and approved. The rule maker refers to the government acts as the lawmaker instead of parliament (People’s Congress in China). In China, most of the legislations involve with foreign investment are set up by government. As discussed above, the time and location of opening are drew by government in late 1970s. More specifically, in a local scale, most of the foreign investments need to be approved and directed by local government. Thus, most of the economic and social activities related to foreign capital need to be carried out very careful and build up relationship with local government. The rule breaker, in comparison to rule maker, refers to the government didn’t follow the rule but act indiscriminately to defence its profit, which including economic profit and social reputation, which will be discusses further in the following part of censorship. To sum, Chinese government has played a very important role in the economic and sociocultural transformation of China. The second feature of globalization with Chinese characteristics: the gigantic and powerful State owned enterprises (SOEs), which can interpret the medium level of the globalization with Chinese characteristics.
The State owned Enterprises (SOEs)
Though the upper hand is gradually losing, SOEs in China maintain to be majority in many industries due to their monopolies prior to the SOEs reform and the government’s support. Conflicts between China and its trade partners, such as US, are emerged because the policy partiality of Chinese government to SOEs. And the violently outbound direct investment (ODI) in recent years were considered as the strategy with Chinese government behind it, such as the ODI made by China National Petroleum Co (CNPC) and China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) (Gallagher, 2016). Therefore, some doubts have been raised to accuse that China encouraged the outward investment, merge and acquisition, while barriers were set to prevent the inward investment, merge and acquisition to SOEs. In this perspective, Chinese Government acts as a buster in marketing economy, which is unfair for foreign companies. However, China’s policy on outward investment has undergone a transformation in the past decade. Before the turn of the century, China imposed highly restrictive controls on outward investment. After then, under the policy slogan of “go-global”, most of the previous restrictions have been removed, and positive support are given to outward investment. The Chinese government has frequently described the go-global policy as “making use of both domestic and foreign resources and markets”. In more concrete terms, for outward investment this means the encouragement of projects that achieve specific goals: obtaining raw materials that China lacks, stimulating sales of goods by Chinese enterprises, and raising their R&D and technology capacity (Freeman, 2008). Also, these circumstances are changing rapidly every year. According to the KPMG 2015 China’s outlook, Chinese companies are investing in ‘new’ sectors, included high technology, agriculture and food, real estate, and services, beyond resource extraction. Though the 2014 data shows that more deals are being struck in developed markets such as the US, Europe and Australia, nine out of the top ten outbound M&A deals (by value) in 2014 all took place in developed economies, in which half of acquirers were SOEs. Actually, though “China buying up the world” became a hotspot, more than half of the M&A request sent by Chinese company failed every year. Some scholars are strongly criticizing China’s firm grip on Stated owned enterprises, or even radically think every form of legal status in China is under control (Rambures, 2015). Rambures claims that not only some ‘private’ companies are actually owned by government entities but also in any company there is a party cell and the Party appoints the managers. Specifically, many Chinese public companies run in accordance with the capitalist management model, but the Party’s Human Resources department or the Party National Development and Reform Commission must approve all major decisions from investment programming to mergers and acquisitions. Although Rambures has made his point, it is not what truly happened in all companies. As a matter of fact, the party cell in most companies is in attentive and lacking of real power. Neither decision making nor human resource assignment will involve them. It is true that the leader of big SOEs must be the “secretary of party”, but what makes more sense is that they give this duty/title to those who really in charge. In the first 20 years of 21 st century, a foresight can be told that SOEs will maintain the monopoly of key sectors in China as the important tool that help the government/party impose its control.
The tech totems of our era – Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Wikipedia – are forbidden in China, casualties of the ruling Communist Party’s opposition to free expression.” – Hannah Beech, ‘The other side of the great firewall’, Times, 11 Jun 2015 The third outstanding feature of globalization with Chinese characteristics is that the censorship in social and cultural lives. Internet is the most significant industry in the era of globalization, which furthers the spread of information. However, the citizens in China are not fully exposed to the global information like many countries’ experiences. As Hannah Beech writes, a vast system of online censorship, commonly known as the Great Firewall, blocks the populace from viewing material deemed dangerous to the state. For example, while Google become the most popular embodiments of globalization and openness in some countries – even Cuba, who just approved Google’s entry in 2016 – China keep saying no to the biggest IT company in the world, since 2010, for the reason that Google rejected the government’s request to filter its search results. Getting rid of the ‘naughty Google’, Chinese domestic company built up a search engine, which qualifies the requirement of government – any sensitive results that will harm or threat the governance will be block before anyone could see it. Thus, the censorship has form the most ridiculous feature of Chinese selective globalization. In 2007, while blogs are the most popular form of surfing internet, MacKinnon (2008) has noticed that the Chinese government has succeeded through censorship and regulation in blocking activists from using the internet as an effective political tool. Furthermore, Lorentzen’s research in 2014, argues that only some of the domestic information gathered by the news media would be published, and any information that could harm the Party would be compiled into secret ‘internal’ reports. Moreover, a model has been employ in this research, which has shown how an authoritarian regime can benefit from a more sophisticated media control strategy, permitting journalists to report aggressively on low- level malfeasance in order to improve governance, but constantly adjusting the amount of reporting in order to avoid giving discontented citizens enough information to be certain about whether a revolt would receive sufficient support to be worthwhile (Lorentzen, 2014). Apparently, the government and party have noticed the power of Internet, and decided to keep it in their hands. By blocking the foreign ‘free’ Internet Technology Corporation, limited and harmless information is provided to Chinese citizens, by doing so, the channels of exposing the domestic ‘bad news’ to the outside world are blocked as well. This dual- block circumstance helps the growing of domestic Internet Technology Company. For many Chinese, the Internet behind the Great Firewall works just fine, delivering goods, services and cat video with a swipe of a smartphone. The nation’s native tech firms are thriving, some of which boast market caps greater than those of the foreign counterparts they are modelled after. In a word, the censorship helps the formation of globalization with Chinese characteristics, by showing selective global information to public. The Great Firewall separates Chinese from the real world – real globalization, which against the tide – in an era everybody shares information.
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