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5 Big Ideas in the Year of the Horse

January 30, 2014, 5:51 AM

In the Chinese Zodiac, the horse symbolized high expectations, performance, and stubbornness. What better occasion than this to talk about the heavy work load that’s awaiting China’s leaders, economists, and scholars in the months to come.

Anti-Corruption Campaign

What's the big idea? The Republic is currently undergoing the greatest anti-corruption campaign in its history. Since president Xi Jinping vowed “to go after flies and tigers,” the nation has turned into a permanent state of whistle-blowing and paranoia.

Crackdown on Activists, Dissidents, and Democrats

What's the big idea? US websites like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Bloomberg News are frequently blocked in China; and social networks like Facebook and Twitter are banned. Investigative journalism is largely suppressed. Press freedom does not exist. At the same time, China is cracking down massively on freedom fighters and dissidents. Xia Yeliang, an economists and democrat, was bullied, and then fired from Peking University. Xu Zhiyong, a lawyer who demanded transparency of government, was sent to prison.

From Workshop to Consumer Society

What's the big idea? China’s thirty years of growth have made it the ‘workshop’ (or better: ‘sweatshop’) of the world, focused on exploiting cheap labor, manufacturing and export. China overtook Germany and the US as the world’s largest trading power in 2012 and 2013. Workers have seen pay rises and a gargantuan middle-class (about 200 million) has emerged that is now ready to consume: Already, Chinese tourists became the biggest spenders abroad; and China overtook Japan as the world’s largest market for luxury goods.

Territorial Conflicts

What's the big idea? China has several territorial conflicts to solve with neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines; but no other conflict has the potential of escalating into a full-blown military conflict like that with Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. Many commentators believe that the uninhabited islands in the South China Sea are just a pawn in the great game between China, Japan, and the United States for dominance and power status in Asia.

The Zhongguo Meng (Chinese Dream)

What's the big idea? China does not only want to become the world’s leading economic power, it also wants to expand its soft power. What better idea than to tell the world: Come here and join the ‘Chinese Dream’. But don’t be fooled, this isn't just a lofty copycat from the 'American Dream' - the Chinese civilization wants to rejuvenate its former might and glory.

Image credit: Qushe/Shutterstock.com

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