China is no longer a multi-hundred million people Communist dictatorship where a few selected officials rule and the rest are poor uneducated peasants. While Communism, perhaps not quite the same ideal Mao decided was proper for his then-backward nation, still reigns supreme, there is a growth of a middle class, numbers of millionaires who have become global entrepreneurs, and bankers and brokers who now control hundreds of billions of American bonds, which makes China the largest nation in control of much of the American economy. Politically, there is no hint of a democratic push. Economically, China is growing faster than any other nation in the world.
Proof of China’s current strength is evident in the fact that the global downturn of the economies of many n seem not to have affected China very much. “China appears poised to perform well going ahead, largely unharmed by the crisis. China has a financial system that, while immature, is commensurate with its level of development, and it is equipped both to withstand domestic contagion from the international crisis and to inject stimulus spending in strategic sectors and locations” (Keidel, 2008, para 1). Of course, the real reason for such stability, as seen by outsiders, is simply the enormity of China’s population and strict economic guidelines which, while beneficial to a few, still maintain an almost sweatshop-=like atmosphere in the manufacturing facilities, many of which now boast international investments.
As much as the U.S., for one, depends on China’s dollar surpluses to buy Treasury bonds and other indebtedness, there is still the lingering shadow of human rights violations which continue to be aired. Much as human rights activists may deplore some of China’s internal dealings with its population, nevertheless the enormity of the trade opportunities and investment opportunities put much of these human rights issues aside for Western business people. It is the cheap products manufactured by minimum-wage workers that produce enormous economic benefits for China. Here is further proof of China’s explosive growth: “In the last 30 years the rate of Chinese economic growth has been almost miraculous, averaging 8% growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per annum. The economy has grown more than 10 times during that period, with Chinese GDP reaching 3.42 trillion US dollars by 2007” (“China Economy”, 2009, para 2).
Of course, there is no denying that, given the differential between upper and middle class and the ruling elite in China and their workers, there tend to be a number of human resources issues. However, there seem to be some strides being made when it comes to pay, working conditions and even the opportunity for advancement. Here is the gist of a recent report: “According to the report, despite some obvious progress Chinese enterprises have made in human resources work, they still lag far behind in fostering would-be enterprises leaders, designing employee career development plans and practices to handle complaints” (“China releases”, 2009, para. 6).
Of course, there is no shortage of labor and there is basically a wealth of natural resources which can be used for manufacturing needs, with the exception of oil and some other metals which must be imported. It is not easy to compare China’s current economy to any other nation, from a historical point of view. Keidel suggests the following: “China’s size and the still considerable scale of its impoverished population make it difficult to compare its current stage of development with historical time periods in other countries. It is perhaps most comparable to Japan’s in the early 1950s at the latest, and to South Korea’s and Taiwan’s in the late 1960s and early 1970s.” (Keidel, 2008, para 5).
Marketing in Western nations has many areas. One of them is called “relationship marketing” which is perhaps the opst personal approach for manufactrurers and swervice providers. China also has such a system, but it differs from what Westerns may be uswed to: “In China, the concept of relationship marketing can be traced back to the period of Spring and Autumn of 770-470 B.C which is called Guanxi. Guanxi is like a ladder of loyalty: trust bonding, reciprocity and empathy are interrelated and complementary” (Murphy and Wang, 2006, para. 11).
The question arises, of course, whether one shouold considwer China an ally in the economic and global activities, or whether it is an enemy, seeking to undercut the trade opportunitiers weith its ready-made and cheaply-manufactured product lines which often outsell local products worldwide. One must add that “cheaply manufactured” does not refer to the technical aspects, but to labor overhead.
It is also important to realize that the business climate for investment in China may be potentially profitable for Western nations, it still requires oversight by Chinese government and native management, which may not be able to reach the competency level (at least not yet) expected from Western industries.
The fact that there is an enormous amount of U.S. dollars in Chinese hands makes it difficult form some Americans to be negative about increasing trade activities. Right now, there are some disputes to be settled, such as piracy of music CDs and movie DVDs which are costing American companies tens of millions of dollars annually. Also, one must consider the totally different set of customs, many dating back centuries, which separate the Chinese way of doing business with what Americans might have come to expect. There is little doubt, however, that eventually- as President Obama remarked on his visit to Beijing last week and next year’s visit by China’s priome minister, that opportunities will open better economic relationships and even provide a better climate for China’s work force. The trends for the foreseeable future can mean cultural compromises creating mutual economic benefits.
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