The People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the Global Economy: Differing Perspectives
The major economic event of the 21st century is China’s return as a global economic power. It is impossible to focus solely upon China’s economy because the PRC’s new economic power also accords China major political influence. Perspectives on Chinese economic and political power vary greatly in Asia and elsewhere. The following three video segments and one audio segment provide a sampling of these different perspectives.
Please watch the first three video links and conclude the lesson by listening to the audio clip.
The first video segment is Henry Kreisler’s (Institute of International Studies, University of California: Berkley) April 14, 2009, interview with Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Mahbubani discusses the rise of Asia and particularly emphasizes what he views as the positive global economic and political example that the PRC is setting for developing countries. Only the first (linked) segment of the multi-part interview is required listening.
The second segment, a short 2009 documentary, entitled “Twenty Years On - China” produced by the UK award-winning documentary company, Journeyman Pictures, explores issues such as how Chinese youth focus upon economics rather than politics in the years since Tiananmen Square and life in a society characterized by an authoritarian government and capitalism.
The third segment is a five-minute September 12, 2007, CNN report narrated by Lou Dobb’s on China’s alleged threat to our economic stability through ownership of massive amounts of American debt.
The fourth segment is an eight-minute PBS Wide Angle audio interview with Andrew Nathan, Columbia University political scientist and China specialist. In the August 12, 2008 interview, Nathan asserts that China will inevitably become the largest economy in the world, and he discusses the economic and political ramifications of China’s return to global leadership.
Please answer one of the two of the following questions in 250 words or less.
1. Given that the economic and political ramifications of China’s rise in the world are impossible to predict, how might you use the perspectives you considered to assist students in understanding, in a thoughtful way, various points of view on the subject?
2. Opinions about the ramifications of growing PRC economic and political power for the US is not divided along partisan lines since elected officials within both parties take opposing viewpoints on China. How might you introduce these varying positions to students in a balanced and thoughtful way?
Sources and further optional resources:
The PBS Wide Angle China collection has a number of useful educational segments on China’s economy and global political and economic ramifications.
East Asia, Human Capital, and Your Students
As discussed in the last reading, a major reason for East Asian’s economic success is that they live in societies where much attention is paid to the development of what economists call the development of human capital—the skills and knowledge that result in the production of valuable goods and services. Effectiveness of educational institutions is crucial to the development of human capital.
In the past two decades, the Chinese state has dramatically improved the human capital of its population. Literacy rates are now over ninety percent and university entrance rates are rising. Secondary students face a grueling regimen preparing for highly rigorous entrance examinations to elite Chinese universities. This process is convincingly depicted in the 2008 PBS documentary China Prep. This video is approximately 30 minutes in length. Please watch at least four segments of the documentary, and preferably all of it.
Please answer one of the following two questions in 250 words or less.
1. Do you think showing US secondary school students this video and having an ensuing discussion about whether, in general, the US educational system doing a good job in preparing students, particularly top students, to compete in the global economy is a good idea? Why or why not?
2. Listen to the interview with Harvard professor, Vanessa Fong. What are your reactions to her impression of how Chinese students feel about their secondary educations while they are in school contrasted with later in their life?
Sources and further optional resources:
The PBS Wide Angle China collection
has useful additional information on China’s educational system.