The People’s Republic of Capitalism Part IV

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Discussion questions

  • Is China still a “communist country”? Why or why not?
  • What is your view on China’s overall strategy to develop its economy first and leave problems such as income gap, corruption, human right and pollution to be solved at a later time?
  • How different is the business environment in China versus in the United States?
  • Given the problem such as human rights, pollution and corruption in China, should the U.S. government support and encourage U.S. business connections with China? Why or why not?
  • Anything in the documentary that is particuarlly interesting to you?

Please feel free to share your thoughts & comments. 

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Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

9 thoughts on “The People’s Republic of Capitalism Part IV”

  1. The US government should most certainly encourage business connections with China, regardless of the problems that China has. From a business perspective, China has so much cheap labour that we would miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of it (especially in garment manufacturing, which is labor intensive). Secondly, China may not be able to solve the problems it has if it is cut off from America. Even making of the documentary itself required someone to come to China, and document what is going on. So cutting ties with China would not only prevent us from helping them make their lives better, but might prevent us form knowing what is truly going on. And what goes on in China most definitely affects the rest of the world.

  2. I think that the United States is potentially making a big mistake in trying to exclude China from trade participation, because China’s economy is rapidly growing and US should have China on their side, instead of as a major competitor. China, as we have seen, has the upper hand when it comes to competitiveness, due to their large capacity, their efficiency in supply chain management, and their trading patterns. In terms of the video, I was very surprised to see the level of corruption that allows the rich to get richer and the poor to stay poor, but I found it very interesting that the poor actually have some leverage and can negotiate a figure to be paid in order to vacate their houses. Although it is problematic that China is not focusing on issues like human rights and pollution, an economic focus has been doing them some good. The video did say that China has managed to have about 10 million people escape poverty in less than a generation, and the video has also shown that even though it is hard, people in poverty are increasingly able to send their children to universities. In order to become a developed country, China does need the intense focus on economic growth. Hopefully more can/will be done about the extreme corruption in the future.

    1. Great comment! I like how you put into critical thinking of those topics covered in the video. Personally I feel China is unpresented to the United States: not like any other country in history which is either a friend or foe, there are many areas that the U.S. and China share common interests as well as many fields that the two countries do not see each other eye to eye. But at the same time, the relationship between China and US is consequential to the world. Business does not operate in a vacuum. This is why I encourage our students to care about those “non-fashion” topics which actually affect apparel companies’ sourcing decision and long-term business strategy. Politics often time is heavily involved in business—this includes both international politics and domestic politics. Anyway, hope the video open your eyes to see China from a different perspective~

  3. I think the U.S. would be making a disastrous decision by not including China. China has become a huge economical powerhouse who would be a detrimental enemy. They are continuing to grow and become more powerful therefore they could potentially end up overriding the U.S. China has rapidly growing economy and is one of the top innovative nations. In the video, they portrayed China’s poor as seemingly distressed but then we later found out that most poorer able to attend a University in order to grow the economy. If this is the case, why wouldn’t the poverty levels be lower than they are now? Those who had the opportunity of going to University should be able to get a job and support the rest of their family.

  4. I think that China’s strategy to develop its economy first and worry about other harmful things such as pollution, corruption and income gap is not a good idea. These are things that can create much greater problems than having a worse economy. Pollution is very harmful to the environment and the population. This type of harm cannot be reversed. However, having a slightly worse economy can be reversed over time. It is important for China to focus on the problems that cannot be reversed, such as pollution or corruption. Their economy can be developed over time, but if the entire population is killed because of the pollution, having a strong economy will be irrelevant.

  5. Personally, I believe that trying to exclude China from participating in trade is a mistake that will negatively effect the United States. Currently, China has a rapidly growing economy, despite their present difficulties with devalued currency, it is still a market that many are looking to expand into. This being said, working with China would be much more beneficial than competing with them. Additionally, although China is currently functioning as an economically stable market, and becoming a powerhouse within the textile and apparel industry, issues such as their income gap, corruption, and environmental pollution need to be addressed.

  6. I believe that China is making a huge mistake in deciding to develop its economy first before addressing serious problems such as the income gap and human rights issues. While China may feel that by improving its economy they can better address these social issues in the future, I feel that they opposite is true; I believe that by failing to address these issues in the short term, future economic growth will be stunted. These issues will only continue to get worse with a failure to address them. For example, the income gap will surely increase and pollutive emissions will only get worse, causing the costs of addressing these issues to get more expensive as time passes. Therefore, China will be forced to spend more in the future to improve these problems than if they just addressed them now, which will counteract their plans to improve its economic situation.

  7. China’s focus on economic growth puts the country’s other important issues such as human rights, environmental concerns, and the growing income gap of its citizens on the back burner. It is China’s belief that by first handling their economic issues, they will be better equipped to address the other problems at hand. I agree with the above comment that by failing to address these issues now will result in the prevention of future economic growth. The costs associated with problems such as pollution and poverty will only increase as time goes on. Taking less aggressive measures for economic growth and more evenly distributing policy across all of China’s social problems will benefit China in the long run.

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