What are social problems in China


Heinrich Kreft

To person

Dr. phil, M.A., B.A. (USA), born 1958; Diplomat, currently foreign policy advisor to the CDU / CSU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, previously deputy head of the planning staff at the Federal Foreign Office, Wilhelmstr. 60, 11011 Berlin. The author only represents his personal opinion in the article.
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The rapid modernization of China has accentuated existing internal contradictions. The worsening internal problem potential consists, among other things, in massive social imbalances. In the meantime, the government is trying to take massive countermeasures.


Thanks to its economic and political rise, China has become a major player in international markets and in international politics. In 2005, the country rose to become the fourth largest economy - after the USA, Japan and Germany - and again achieved by far the highest growth among the major economies at 9.9 percent. Its share in world trade has risen from less than one percent 20 years ago to 5 percent today - and the trend is rising, thanks to double-digit export growth rates. Foreign direct investment continues to flow into the country, in 2005 alone it should have been around 55 to 60 billion US dollars. Chinese companies have risen to the top of the world league and not only export, but also act as investors abroad themselves. The Chinese economy is expected to grow by 9.8 percent this year, making China the world's largest growth engine due to the slowdown in the US economy.

China's economic rise is also accompanied by further political, not only regional, but also global ambitions. The country is developing into a world power. But the spectacular successes have an increasingly obvious downside, the analysis of which is the focus of this article.

China faces enormous challenges. For example, the nominal per capita income only exceeded the limit of 1,000 US dollars in 2002 and reached around 1,450 US dollars in 2005. The rapid modernization of the country is accompanied by an accentuation of existing internal contradictions. The worsening problem consists, among other things, in a constant tightrope walk between high growth and overheating, in massive social imbalances, in the up to 150 million migrant workers and high unemployment as well as the continued destruction of natural livelihoods.

Added to this are the increase in social protests, problems with the implementation of politics and modern law, and systemic corruption. The Communist Party is finding it increasingly difficult to steer and control these developments. The result is an increasing erosion of the legitimacy of the leadership of the Communist Party. The internal discussions about the extent to which the party is still able to direct the administration extend far into the upper areas of the hierarchy. Regardless of the successes and adaptability of the Chinese Communist Party, it remains to be seen whether a country integrated into the world economy is possible in the long term under the leadership of a Leninist cadre party. The campaign currently being promoted in China to study Marxism and to educate party members is, in addition to its internal function (strengthening the position of Hu Jintao), less an expression of strength than the legitimizing crisis of the party.