One China or Many Chinas? Between Integration and Disintegration—Some Sociological Reflections
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Polish Academy of Sciences
Publication date: 2009-09-29
Polish Sociological Review 2009;167(3):461-476
The author who for the first time found himself in China 10 years ago as a fresh graduate of sociology, describes the dynamic changes which, during that time took place in that country. This sociological account, is drawn on personal experiences and also on the famous sentences regarding the history of China “the empire, long divided, must unite, long united, must divide.” The basic question is, will China—whose economic and civilization disparities were clearly exposed in the last decade, and cultural differences between provinces, traditional and ever existing in that country, have overlapped—find a way of preventing its disintegration in several regions? The article shows that advantages of China’s globalization and opening to the world have been disposed irregularly, dividing the country into the rich East, the Interior supplying cheap manpower, and the West integrated with the rest of the country but largely inhabited by ethnic minorities. Also the East of the country, a beneficiary more of globalization than transformation, is divided into four zones of development concentrated around North-East China, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, each of the four with a different adaptive strategy in the face of globalization and quite often competing for investments, markets and young talents. Nevertheless the author believes that China’s disintegration would be “irrational,” as its integrity is supported by the logic of globalization, in which a merger of a few organisms helps solve global problems and brings profits—even if they are spread irregularly—to all Chinese provinces and, what is most important, it gives China an international status of superpower, which realizes the interests of its thirty-one provinces at the international arena more effectively than any of those provinces could do on its own, without the support of the others.
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