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Bradsher, Keith. “China Said to Weigh Plan to Deal With Failed Banks.” New York Times 14 Dec. 2012: n. pag. Print.

“Doing Business in Guizhou.” Doing Business in Guizhou. Ministry of Commerce The People’s Republic of China, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.

Donaldson, John A. “Why Do Similar Areas Adopt Different Developmental Strategies? A Study Of Two Puzzling Chinese Provinces.” Journal Of Contemporary China 18.60 (2009): 421-444. Humanities International Complete. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.

“Economic Policy.” Country Report. China 3 (2012): 14. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.

Gang, Yi. “China Inflation Cools Amid Signs of Stable Economy Growth.” Bloomberg Businessweek [New York City] 16 Oct. 2012: n. pag. Print.

“Guiyang Economic and Technological Development Zone.” Guiyang Economic and Technological Development Zone. China Knowledge Press, June 2011. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

“Guizhou.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2011): 1. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 5 Dec. 2012.

“Guizhou Province.” CBW: Guizhou Province. Chinese Business World, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

“Guizhou Province Profile.” Helosina.com. CLIPE, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

Jie Wu, et al. “Gender Inequality And Poverty In Asset Ownership.” Chinese Sociology & Anthropology 40.4 (2008): 49-63. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.

Lodish, Emily. “Thousands Protest in China’s Guizhou Province.” Global Post 12 Aug. 2011: n. pag. Web.

“Macro Regulations Indispensable to China’s Economy.” China.org.cn [Beijing] 9 Jan. 2012: n. pag. Print.

Pan, Philip P. Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. Print.

“Women Play Big Role in China’s Economy.” China Daily [San Francisco] n.d.: n. pag. Web.

Wright, Daniel. “The Other Side Of China’s Prosperity.” China Business Review 26.5 (1999): 22. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 5 Dec. 2012.

“2005 Nanning International Conference On Sustainable Urban Development.” Experiences of Guizhou Province In Urban Construction and Management (2005): 1-9. Apr. 2005. Web.

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A Blueprint for Development: Cultivated People Don’t Work the Land

One of two solutions must be reached to allow Guizhou to develop.  Both entail that the Chinese Communist Politburo must cultivate the human capital of the entire society in order to develop the freedoms of those in the Guizhou Province,   By doing this, new opportunities will arise and bring forth agricultural prosperity in the countryside, and economic development in the cities.  These opportunities consist of government-based corn subsidies, a stronger system of education, and a more ongoing relation between Beijing and Guizhou’s provincial leaders. The second plan states that Beijing must implement new agricultural cultivation technologies, such as those that already exist in the United States today, in Guizhou, while re-regulating rural-urban emigration policies, and by provide the citizens with more manufacturing jobs and a stronger system of education.

Of the two plans, the second will bring more prosperity in years to come because it emphasizes removing people from the countryside – where a majority of Chinese poverty resides – and bringing them to the cities – where nearly all economic activity occurs.  However, this is not as easy as simply busing people into cities and immediately putting them to work.  The process begins by allowing people to expect that jobs will be available, and by allowing the government to expect taxation revenue.  In order to accomplish this goal, the government must monitor potential job openings, and carefully document people coming into the cities.  The government will then be able to determine how much work is available, and prepare the city for those incoming residents.  In cases where companies are unable to grow due to economic circumstances, the provincial government will offer public sector jobs for the cities’ immigrants.  Similar to Roosevelt’s plan in the United States in the 1940s, a government based work market not only give jobs to those unable to find it in the cities, the program will also help improve the cities’ infrastructure, which is in a current state of despair.

Today, innumerable Chinese citizens flock to local cities for work, but go unmonitored by the government.  As a result, they don’t pay any form of income taxes.  This tax-population imbalance puts a massive strain on public entities – such as roads, buses, other means of transportation, and public safety authorities like the police and fire departments.  There are too many people and not enough tax returns.  In order for the system to be effective, when the Chinese immigrants come to work in the cities, a system of documentation must have been established in order to collect taxes from every single individual.  By allowing these rural urban-goers into the cities, China will become more productive, because many will be producing more goods in the cities then they would in the countryside as farmers.  This will raise the country’s real gross domestic product.

Despite the massive influx of rural immigrants, many people will still remain in rural villages.   Therefore, the system of agricultural production currently in practice in the countryside needs to be improved.  Development of a system for educating the farmers on modern farming technologies and techniques will help them become more efficient in agricultural production.  This program will ease  the reliance on child labor in the rural workforce and allow more children to go to school.

Along with the establishment of an agricultural school, a water retention system must be developed in the villages.  This fashion of machinery will be cheaper than the water pumps already operating in the cities.  Water retention technology will allow farmers to hydrate their dry land.  Along with educating the people on new agricultural technologies, farmers should be taught about the basics of trade and other simple economic ideas.  Similar to an elementary macro-economics course, the farmers will earn how to trade their goods and remaining crops in the marketplace to return a profit.  Such basic skills will help the farmers develop a life with an expendable income.

Farmers who partake in school will be subsidized for their actions.  If they go to school for one hour daily, they will be reimbursed for time spent in the classroom.  These education subsidies remove the disincentive of losing possible income.  The longevity of this institution is finite because these basic skills will be taught to the elementary students in their schools.

In this context, educating the youth is even more vital for long-term development.  Provincial-level policy makers must remove regulations that require families to pay a fee beginning each school year.  This fee currently prohibits many children from going to school, and precludes their positive contribution to society.  A reality based curriculum should consist of a vocational track, while gifted students receive a more progressive and rigorous education.  These two educational tracks will allow the majority of students to obtain specific skills that will allow them to develop their rural villages, while encouraging academically motivated students to develop China economically as a whole.  The Vocational Education track will teach students the skills enabling them to communicate in Mandarin; because any local dialect would not suffice as the means of transcultural communication.

Elevating one’s human capital, most commonly completed by educating the youth, is crucial for development.  Guizhou, for example, people don’t have the educational resources necessary to cultivate their full potential.  In this case, knowledge of how to cultivate the land, work for a company (most frequently jobs in manufacturing), and the ability to use the official language of the People’s Republic of China are the means of acquiring the goal –  the ends being the liberation from poverty.

Despite the potential economic growth destined to be brought from these changes, if China remains undemocratic, growth, as seen previously with the collapse of the Soviet Union, will be limited.  China’s economy is like a skyscraper built on a poor foundation.  China’s foundation consists of a plethora of “unfreedoms” (Sen) deeply intertwined in modern society, the faulty GDP reports, and unsafe working conditions – seen quite specifically in the coal mines of the Shanxi Province, where dozens lose their lives weekly (Pan).  These faults seem to envelop all of China in a dark plague, leaving a billion plus citizens in an omnipotent socialist shadow.  How can China continue economic growth when the country is built on stilts?

Through education and opportunity, the cumulation of human potential in Guizhou is almost infinite.  By giving every child an education, and then later on, offering them work opportunities, a human capital deficiency will no longer be an issue in the province.  If the means of work opportunities and a strong educational foundation are met, the ends of social and economic development will be reached.

The Sources of Poverty in Guizhou: Transforming Uncultivated Soil by Nurturing Souls

Opportunities for development in the Guizhou province involve educating and enabling people to understand how to cultivate their own human potential.  Providing rural farmers, fettered with traditional inequalities, with economic choices paves the way to a more prosperous economy.  With the advent of many new economic choices in Guizhou, an untapped source of economic potential will be freed – the human capital of women.

In rural societies, like many of those in Guizhou, “land is the basic material asset … [that] the household depends on for subsistence” (Jie Wu, et. al.), there are many traditions, however, prohibiting women from acquiring land.  In Chinese land-right policy, for example, there is a  “loophole in [the] system” that keeps divorced women from obtaining land, “the basic material asset” in a rural economy (Jie Wu, et. al.).  In Guizhou, along with policies which preclude individuals from owning land because of their gender, cultivated female capital is as rare as high yield corn harvests.  Efforts to cultivate rice, till land, and make “decisions about what to plant,” are traditionally “undertaken by men” (Jie Wu, et. al.).  Therefore, the rural societies of Guizhou only utilizes female capital when there isn’t enough male labor.  Physical imbalances often prevent women from acquiring the basic skills of marketplace involvement, which according to Charles Wheelan, are fundamental to any economy.

Seeing “poverty as a deprivation of basic capabilities, rather than merely as low income” (Sen 20) can clarify the circumstances in Guizhou. Gender inequalities aren’t only prevalent within the farming communities; they also exist at the state and provincial level.  According to the New York Times, Chinese “banks [are] encouraged … to lend overwhelmingly to state-owned enterprises that appear certain to repay loans.”  This form of discrimination “has left smaller business and private companies starved for credit” (Bradsher).  Also the banks’ preference to lend to public enterprises, there “is [also a clear] gender inequality regarding borrowing and lending decisions” (Jie Wu, et. al.).  Banks tend to lend, if they are approved to give loans to the private sector, “to the head of the household.”  This “starves” women even more for credit, especially when some rural households rely on borrowing money to buy land, send their children to school, or even to buy food (Jie Wu, et. al.).

The rocky geography of Guizhou prevents the province from becoming a preeminent location for agriculture.  The many days of rainfall prevent the food staple of China – rice – from being cultivated, because of the fluctuating water levels in the paddies (Wright).  It is too hard to actively regulate the water level.  97% of the land in the Guizhou province is marginal, thus, preventing any form of high marginal yields.  In addition, because of the lack of nutrients in the soil, corn farming is an unrewarding profession.  Despite being the second most abundant crop in the region, not enough corn is produced to maintain any type of livelihood (Guizhou Province Profile).

In Guizhou, the “water resources are limited” and “women, because of childbirth and contraception, often suffer more illnesses due to poor sanitation” (Jie Wu, et. al.).  Because of the rocky terrain, water seeps far down into the soil, out of reach for many rural farmers.  Despite new technologies in the cities, where pumps utilize water as a power source, it remains untouched in the rural highlands.  The lack of water in the Guizhou Province increases health risks, while decreasing marginal crop yields.

For many people residing in the countryside of China, a trek to the urban centers is a ticket to certain prosperity.  The highlanders, however, are not innate citizens of the cities, therefore, they don’t have to pay taxes. Many of these urban-goers strain the cities structurally.  Without a sufficient amount of tax revenue, the city is unable to pay for the needs of the larger society.  As a result, China has installed many regulations prohibiting rural-urban immigration.  These restrictions isolate economic prosperity to those born in the cities.

If development is the desired end, then enabling and educating the people “through a process that [allows the] freedom of actions and decisions” (Sen 17) are the means. In other words, economic opportunities, which are conceptions of freedom, are the essential groundwork for development.  Development is an agent-oriented process, where the agent is  “someone who acts and brings about change, and whose achievements can be judged in terms of her own values and objectives” (Sen 19). Altogether, China must give the agents of developmental freedom the opportunities to produce a successful economy.  Development is out of the party’s hands.

A Brief Economic Profile on Guizhou, China

Trade:

A province with no human capital buys it. 

Despite being the poorest economy in China, Guizhou holds many strong trade relationships with other regions and countries.  The Guizhou Province imports and exports around 1.4 billion US dollars of goods annually.  Locally manufactured commodities are exported to 124 regions and countries, resulting in 859 million dollars of goods, and imports from 54 countries and regions amounts to 545 million dollars of goods (Doing Business in Guizhou).  Guizhou is also contracted with many overseas partners to prepare “a large number of engineering projects” in the region.  Most of these contracts are signed with Singapore, Dominica, and Ghana (Doing Business in Guizhou).

Democracy and Freedoms:

China is an ultra-capitalistic economy with socialistic freedoms.  Don’t let the 7% annual GDP growth fool you, Chinese citizens aren’t quite free.  

Chinese residents, even those of the Guizhou Province, have very few democratic freedoms.  In the short history of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese people have already experienced many disheartening times. The party’s omnipotent rule has fostered the inquisition of intellectuals, or rightists, during the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution, the massacres at Tiananmen Square in 1989, and in recent times, the suppression of many protests.  In the Guizhou Province, there have been a number of protests involving migrant workers in recent years.  In August 2011, many migrant workers protested to express their disgust about the income gap in the urban economic center, Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou (Lodish).

Responsible Monetary and Fiscal Policy:

The flourishing of a new relationship with Beijing.

During the Tenth Five-Year Plan, 3.07 billion yuan were invested into urban infrastructure in the Guizhou Province.  These investments restored dilapidated buildings, repaved numerous roads, and revamped many public facilities to bring them up to builders’ code.  China paid for these improvements “in the form of national debt, plus 272 million yuan in the form of provincial financial subsidies” (Nanning International Conference On Sustainable Urban Development).  Also, the party invested in water-supplying projects, which, along with many sewage disposal plans, will keep the cities cleaner, and the people thriving (2005 Nanning International Conference On Sustainable Urban Development).

Human Capital:

Guizhou’s human capital problem is an education problem.  

In rural provinces, like Guizhou, people don’t have the resources necessary to cultivate their full potential.  Some of these resources are access to a quality education, sufficient means to acquire an end (whether that be fertilizer for a farmer or tools for a miner), or the access to democratic freedoms.  In Guizhou, many of those who reside in the outskirts of the large cities don’t have access to education.  Many families put work before schooling.  The action of removing children from school prohibits the blooming of their talents, limiting the potential of their human capital later on.

Female Involvement:

Because of Mao, women can now start to cultivate. 

According to the China Daily, female “entrepreneurs are playing a big role in China’s economy and the country is making new efforts to foster [female] entrepreneurship” (Women Play Big Role in China’s Economy).  The All-China Women’s Federation claims that in recent years there “is a strong rise in women entrepreneurship in China.”  Many sources in China, including the China Daily, have been notorious for fabricating the truth.  Therefore, any evidence they cite, or claim, may be exaggerated or even false.  On a personal note, I experienced female involvement in the agricultural economy in Xichang, a city in Sichuan, China.  Women, along with men, worked in the rice paddies and cultivated corn and other crops.

Natural Resources:

Guizhou: pushing the boundaries of what many conceive as a natural resource. 

The geography of Guizhou boasts a plethora of natural resources, some of which are capable of contributing to the meeting of China’s high energy demands.  The province is also home to a numerous amount of minerals, some, native to the region.  “Among the 123 kinds of discovered minerals,” twenty-two are the most abundant in all of China (Guizhou Province Profile).  “province is particularly strong in the reserves of coal, phosphorus, mercury, aluminum, manganese, antimony, gold, barite, raw materials for cement and bricks, as well as dolomite, sandstone and limestone” (Guizhou Province Profile).  Because of the massive amounts of rainfall in the region, Guiyang has hydro-power generating resources of 18.74 million kilowatts.  Hydro-power generators are unique natural source of energy in all of China’s rural provinces (Guizhou Province Profile).

Regulations:

 Whatever Beijing says, Guizhou does.

Many of the economic regulations implemented in Beijing are imperative to the continual growth of the Chinese economy.  Many of the regulations, according to China.org, evolve to meet the current global economic circumstance.  Policy makers rewrote regulations after the fall of Lehman Brothers Bank in 2007.  The collapse of the investment firm triggered a domino effect of banks liquidating globally.  But because of these changed regulations, all major Chinese investment firms stayed afloat.  Before the collapse, China tightened currency policy to prevent potential inflation, however after the fall of Lehman Brothers, China loosened many monetary policies to promote more borrowing between banks and the state (Macro Regulations Indispensable to China’s Economy).  Clearly Chinese economic regulations are an ever-changing phenomenon.  Chinese policy makers are flexible enough to adapt the regulations to meet the current global situation.

Stability and Security:

An economy built on stilts is bound to fall, despite the party’s claims.

Inflation of the Renminbi is a constant worry for the Chinese government.  In recent years, however, the Renminbi has been stable; therefore, in the eyes of the Chinese government, the economy is less turbulent (Gang).  Despite the claims of a secure currency, the rights of workers are being violated daily, which leads to economic insecurity.  In the Guizhou Province, there have been protests involving migrant workers – some as recent as August 2010 (Lodish).  These protests, which sometimes escalate to riots, act as a lens for more significant issues. Specific issues include workers’ rights violations, massive income disparities between different economic classes, and the lack of many democratic freedoms.  Of course, this turbulence overwhelms a stable economy.

Government Institutions:

With help from Beijing, growth should be certain. 

In response to the tremendous amount of roads that, to American standards, are unsafe, Party officials from Beijing, along with some from the Guizhou province, are starting to reinforce, and supervise, a stricter form of city planning and development (2005 Nanning International Conference On Sustainable Urban Development). In years past, despite Beijing and other economically prosperous provincial governments working symbiotically on city-level projects, accounts have surfaced that poor provinces, like Guizhou, have received very little aid comparatively from Beijing.  Because of the lack of monetary funding, this neglect has created an inadequate system of roads and public infrastructure.  Today, however, Guizhou is getting more help from Beijing; moreover, Guizhou is following the “traditional management pattern of the government taking on everything,” but with Beijing’s guiding hand (2005 Nanning International Conference On Sustainable Urban Development). Up until recently, Guizhou’s public institutions have been labeled as inadequate (Wright), but with the newfound help of Beijing, there is hope that a stronger system of roads and other public institutions will be developed in the near future.

Property Rights:

The only people in China who have property rights are the super-wealthy who have a network of party connections.  

Quite often, land developers would “buy lands-use rights in central Beijing from the government for about 10% of the final value of the projects they plan to build” (Pan).  Wealthy land developers often would get approved for development from party officials “without going through the trouble of buying or seizing them from homeowners first” (Pan).  Then, according to Pan, if the homeowners don’t give up their homes, the developers will often conspire with party officials to force them out (Pan).  Because of this, people endure daily, wondering if they too will soon have an eviction notice slabbed on their front door, even though their family has been living in the same dwelling since the Qing Dynasty.

Geography:

Despite the many days of annual rain fall, the peoples’ crops go dry. 

The geography of the Guizhou Province is mostly composed of high mountains, and despite the many days of rain, the topsoil is quite dry. “87 percent mountainous, 10 percent hilly, and 3 percent valley,” Guizhou is home to a very small amount of arable land (Wright).Despite the many days of annual rainfall, the water seeps far too deeply into the soil for acquisition.  There are many modern technologies capable of extracting the water, and they are being implemented to supply the cities, but the water source is out of the peasants’ reach.  of the harshness of the geography, the farmers of the Guizhou Province face large difficulties when cultivating crops.

A Lens in to the Chinese Rural Life: A (Fictional) Biography of an Impoverished Women in Guizhou, China

下大高  (Xià dà gāo) is a malnourished, immensely shrewd, female corn farmer living in the countryside of the Guizhou Province, the poorest province in all of China.  Despite her intelligence,  下大高  is exceedingly poor.  Guizhou is a wet, humid, and mountainous environment.  In Guizhou, the people say there “aren’t three days without rain, three miles without a mountain or three coins in anybody’s pocket” (Guizhou).

下大高 is unable to cultivate rice because of her old age, the rice paddies are too hard on her untreated arthritis.  Unlike 70% of the population in Guizhou, 下大高 is literate, and received her schooling throughout Mao’s regime.  Along with two-thirds of the region, she lives on less than $1.25 daily (Guizhou).  Fifteen years ago, while on a trek to trade goods with 10,000 other villagers in the local city of Guiyang, her husband was struck by a bus full of foreigners visiting the region.  Despite the country’s fabrications, the roads in Guiyang are some of the worst in the world (Wright).  So for the past fifteen years, while most women are enjoying retirement,  下大高 continues to cultivate the corn fields. Single-handedly she must produce enough corn for herself, and her two grandchildren, who are slowly becoming malnourished.

下大高 can’t afford to buy agricultural necessities, such as: plow animals, fertilizer, and electricity.  As a result, her crop production is held to a minimum.  下大高 is barely able to feed her family, but as Chinese tradition states, surplus crop is expected to go to other villagers.  Because of this she cannot produce a surplus of corn necessary to create any revenue for herself.  Similar to many other Chinese rural villagers, 下大高’s largest source of income is from her children, who work in the nearby town of Guiyang.

Throughout the Chinese countryside, many families split apart to work in nearby cities. Young men and women, making pennies a day, slave away in factories to send most of their earnings back home.  下大高’s children embarked in the 1980s, traveling to Guiyang, a newly developed Economic Zone with a bright future, to go work in a textile factory.  But the rapid development of the 1980s has recently slowed.  It seems as if the Chinese government has forgotten about the development of the Guizhou Province and the rest of Western China.  As in most of Western China, the economic reforms that had benefitted so many families on the eastern coast, elude many of the rural western families. 下大高 often wonders lying in her roofless hovel, why so many of Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms had not transformed her life in ways they had her eastern counterparts.  She often thinks of the reoccurring droughts, and how food is scarcer than ever before.  Under Chairmen Mao, she often thought, we had some source of food when times were tough.  Today, she barely cultivates enough crops to feed her grandchildren, without having enough to sufficiently feed herself.

Along with feeding her grandchildren, the promise of their education constantly lingers in her mind.  In Guizhou, only about half of the children go to school.  This is because many parents in Guizhou can’t afford the twelve dollar fee for every school year (Wright). With the help of her children’s work in a textile factory in Guiyang, 下大高 has enough money to send one of her two grandchildren to school.  She knows that education is the only way for them to leave the squalor in which her family has lived; but because of the bureaucratic policies of China, she has to decide which one will be given the opportunity.

Through the Shadow and Into the Light

Even at 14, I knew about the cliché of China taking over the world.  I took Mandarin in ninth grade, to prepare for the so-called inevitable takeover.  China also seemed intriguing, mystical and odd.  Leading up to my junior year, my education had not focused on the Orient, but recently I took the initiative to learn more, enrolling in a 20th century Chinese history course.  In the class we read Out of Mao’s Shadow by Philip Pan.  The book examined the lingering corruption of China’s government after the Chairman’s death; as a result, I started questioning Chinese policy, and most of all, I became even more curious.

Last year I visited China as part of my Mandarin III course.  In Shanghai, I spent many days living with a Chinese student named Ken and his family.  Influenced by Pan’s book, I became interested in hearing Ken’s views on American life, how he felt about realities like soldiers with automatic wapons on street corners, and what he thought about Chinese overall.  I was surprised that unlike older generations, his views and aspirations were similar to mine.  I concluded that much of Ken’s generation is inching towards the light, struggling to pry itself from the fetters of oppression and out of Mao’s waning shadow.

At the same time, it appeared there was a division between those who want Western freedoms and those who still follow the party.  I saw this schism vividly while waiting in line to enter Mao’s tomb, at the Gate of Heavenly Peace, known here as Tiananmen Square.  As we waited, two young girls stood celebrating a song of optimism and unity called 朋友, which literally translated means, “Friend.” Here I saw the strife between the past – those who continue to pay tribute to a man who slaughtered forty million of his own citizens – and the future, those who desperately desire liberation.

As the student leader of my school’s Amnesty International group, I am naturally concerned for the well-being of the Chinese people.  I constantly wonder where their country is headed.  Do the people realize that they’re at a crossroads?  Will the government continue to rule with an iron fist, or consider a path of non-contention? 老子, Lao Tzu, realized that “ruling a country is like cooking a small fish …”; society will fall apart if handled too roughly, but what will Hu Jintao do?  In the words of Philip Pan: “Too much has happened.  Too much has changed.  Too many refuse to forget.”  I, for one, will never forget.  Out of Mao’s Shadow has broadened my perspective regarding the challenges and responsibilities of being a global citizen, and inspire he to encourage others to help create a more balanced, humanistic world for those to come.