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China's Burgeoning Economic Ascent

Half-gone are the theories that economic prosperity is dependent solely on communism, capitalism, socialism or some other dogma. Well, for the Chinese model, progress is anything that works.

With a large labor force willing to accept relatively low wages, China's growth remains assured. Chinese leaders know this cheap labor in light industry will not last forever and are investing heavily in manufacturing and education. China currently graduates more engineers than any country. Although numbers matter, they do not necessarily translate into quality.

As China floods the labor market with cheap labor and skilled workers, it will attract more western industries scurrying to make large profits. The advance of more robust internet capabilities and outsourcing has the potential of ramping up labor competition. This is already becoming an economic game changer. While China celebrates progress, we are reminded that China's advance is not without problems.

It is easy to jump quickly to point fingers at China's human right records, but we should not fail to give China credit for pulling millions of people out of poverty within a relatively short period. Though hardly mentioned, this is also a significant human rights achievement.

In the case of China like in every other modern democracy, when there is strong economic growth, the natural gravitation is that the system overall is working well and need not be changed or challenged. Given China's vastly available cheap labor, economic growth is not likely to halt anytime soon leaving everyone to embrace the possibility that its authoritarian regime is going to be around for a long while.

The accepted notion that a push for capitalism liberates forces that promote democracy does not seem to hold true for China. With China's semi-authoritarian rule, the Chinese should worry a lot about future stability.

Although China's problems are more economic than they are political, the politics like in every other country often dictates the direction of the economy. China has learned a good lesson the hard way that it cannot grow in isolation after shunning the rest of the world for decades and missing out on the industrial revolution of the 19th century.

China is opening up slowly. As it opens itself to the rest of the world; it will have little option but to change its political structure. History shows that this is unlikely to happen at a fast pace on its own unless China is jawboned economically by other wealthy nations to create a more open society.

Imposing a western style fledgling democracy is probably going to cause just chaos within a system that has gotten used to authoritarian rule for over a century comparable to what is seen in many other developing nations. China has mastered the art of gradual experimentation. Experimenting slowly in modernizing its political institutions may prove just as successful.

China loves to be shaped positively economically, but adheres intransigently to the same political principles that had caused it to lag behind for many years. As the Chinese continue to implement the "what works theory" economically, they equally spend a huge amount of resources trying not to let market forces naturally shape its philosophy.

The Chinese leadership is known for getting obsessed with trivial issues from internet access to human rights. This kind of obsession is an indication that China's economic growth far surpasses its ideological growth. No country should afford to degenerate into such an imbalance. Any degeneration only leads to chaos.

What the Chinese government anticipates is that the rapid growth of its economy will submerge any criticism of human's rights abuses and dictatorship. What it does not realize is that, the more prominent its economy becomes the more it will be challenged to be more responsible and be more open.

Whether we agree or disagree about China's handling of online content and the media, we should not lose sight of the often unpredictable nature of events in China. A good number of places in China are a lot more restive than otherwise assumed.

In July 2009, clashes between Muslim Uighur and Han Chinese that were instigated and fueled by the internet left over 200 people dead in the City of Urumqi. The deep distrust and misinformation between some ethnic groups in China makes it inevitable for China to regulate online content pertaining to these. Though some of these measures are necessary, others are draconian.

Until economic growth begins to stall, only then will a younger Chinese generation start to question the efficacy of the current system. The rising bargaining power of the Chinese government on the international stage is unlikely to cause a shift in ideology within the communist party. Washington can do very little because it is already getting bankrolled by the Chinese government and has begun to feel a pinch of that Chinese power.

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