"Plunging into the Sea: The Complex Face of Globalization in China"
These proceedings feature presentations from an international conference entitled "Plunging Into the Sea: The Complex Face of Globalization in China." The event, which took place on April 18-20, 2004, represented the 20 annual Mansfield Conference sponsored by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at The University of Montana. My hope in planning the event was to bring in people who could effectively communicate their deep understanding of how global forces had affected China's modernization to a lay audience.
The results are evident here in a series of presentations that skillfully mesh key trends with compelling evidence. With two exceptions, we have presented the papers in the order in which they were delivered at the conference itself. Thus, a keynote on "Globalization and the Chinese Environment" appears first and is followed sequentially by an introductory presentation on globalization and papers dedicated, respectively, to China's political, economic, and environmental spheres and to Chinese popular society and culture. A second keynote presentation entitled "Civil Society, Globalization, and the State: China in Comparative Prospective" is grouped with the presentations on China's political environment.
Although we have secured full text presentation where it has been possible to do so, some presentations are displayed as power point. In the few cases where no presentation was made available, that will be made evident in the title list.
Americans, understandably, tend to view globalization through the prism of their life experiences in the United States. Most seem to view globalization favorably, equating it with western-style modernization and "progress," while making a positive identification between globalization and free markets. For other Americans, however, globalization takes on a more negative connotation, evoking images of a world full of McDonalds and Nike Shoes and provoking concerns that include the loss of American jobs to other countries (like China) that allegedly exploit workers; the adverse effect that rapid development can have on the environement; and what some perceive as increased control by "global governing agencies" such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.
The 2004 rendition of The University of Montana's Mansfield Center Conference -- our 20th -- sought to broaden the debate on globalization by examining diverse aspects of life, development, and society in contemporary China, where the impact of globalization may be as complex and compelling as anywhere on the globe. The conference was free and open to the public.
China and Globalization.
As noted, the conference brought together top experts from the United States and China to explore four areas where globalization has had a dramatic - and often cross-cutting - impact: Chinese economic development; politics and human rights; the environment; and popular culture and society. To a considerable extent, China's economic development has driven change in the other areas, and that trend is likely to accelerate as China opens itself ever more fully to global market forces.
Globalization has played an increasing important role in China's economic development since Deng Xiaoping's epochal decision to "jump into the sea" -- that is, to reform and open China to the outside world -- in 1978. It has become a transcendent force with China's 2001 decision to plunge ever deeper by lowering the last barriers to global economic forces as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Because the latter membership will almost certainly spur huge gains in foreign investment, Chinese exports, and jobs in the People's Republic, some Americans characterized the decision to admit China into the WTO as a "gift" of sorts. As several of our experts will show, however, as a price of membership China has committed to make concessions that will expose some of its poorest industrial and rural areas to brutal competition and potentially wrenching change.
As in the economic realm, global forces are affecting China's environment, political sphere, society, and culture in ways that are crosscutting and complex. The goal of this conference was to communicate some of the complexity of these forces. In the process, we hoped not only to expand people's conception of globalization, but to give our audience an eye-opening look at the "real" China during a period of dramatic change. Thanks to our presenters, I think we succeeded admirably in that goal.
Terry Weidner, Mansfield Center director
List of Presentations and Links to Papers
Panel One: Globalization and the Chinese Political Environment
Panel Two: Globalization and the Chinese Economy
Panel Three: Globalization and the Environment in China
Panel Four: Globalization and Popular Society/Culture
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