Based on my observations and class readings, China is an incredibly complex country that is striving to simultaneously evolve its political, economic, legal, and social structures to meet the needs of the times. I could certainly elaborate on any of these country profile facets, but I’m going to address this nation’s political structure as it is the single factor that I believe can impact all else.
A Reforming Communist Country
This is my first visit to a communist country and that adds to this trip’s intrigue. The People’s Republic of China established itself as a communist state in 1949 and today, some 66 years later, is working to reform in a manner that will enable the country to seize economic and global leadership opportunities. According to The Economist article, Reform in China: The quiet revolution (April 18, 2015), “China is the world’s second-largest economy and Asia’s pre-eminent rising power.”
Although China is experiencing a financial revolution and “economic reforms have high-level backing” (Reform in China, 2015), sometimes the government appears to be at odds with itself. The communist regime’s restrictive socialism-based philosophies and controls can conflict with the nation’s changing culture, international business practices, and global advancements in technology and communication. The result: “China is a maze of intricacies, complexities, and contradictions” (Fernandez, 2015).
Visitor’s Point Of View
From a visitor’s point of view, I observed the strongest reminder of China’s political structure when I visited Beijing, the country’s capital and seat of power. While touring Tiananmen Square, one could not help but remember the haunting images broadcast worldwide in June of 1989. This generated conflicting emotions for me as I observed the landmark’s physical tributes to national leaders and communism including Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum, the Monument to the People’s Heroes, and the Great Hall of the People which houses the National People’s Congress (Travel China Guide, 2015).
It was interesting to note that when our tour guide spoke about the 1989 Tiananmen Square news coverage, she mentioned her belief that people around the world were more likely to have been better informed about the social unrest than the Chinese people. She speculated that national citizens were not able to see or learn about much more than the widely circulated image of a lone protestor in front of a military tank.
Throughout my tour our guide spoke proudly and openly about China’s history, politics, and culture. After becoming friendly with her, I asked if she could comment on the country’s policies that limited access to some online and social media tools, as well as citizens’ feelings about getting their news from government-controlled media. Unfortunately, all she would say is that she was uncomfortable speaking publicly about such matters. I believe her simple response “spoke volumes.”
Although I have not noticed other physical reminders of China’s political structure, I am aware that as a visitor I need to be respectful and mindful of my actions. In fact, before arriving in China, I’d wondered if there would be any risk in posting some of my blog content as it could be misinterpreted as challenging government positions and, therefore, open me up to scrutiny. That turned out not to be a problem since the government’s block of many communication platforms — including Word Press — prohibited me from posting my blogs while in country. It is only now that I’m in Hong Kong (one country under two systems — but that explanation could fill a whole research paper!) that I’m able to complete this assignment.
Business’ Point Of View
I think this country’s communist government has significant relevance for individuals and organizations trying to conduct business in and with China. The rules of engagement seem to be in flux and in many cases differ from Western practices. As I noted in my country analysis, the significant growth of the Chinese PR industry has been driven by international organizations eager to conduct business in China (Global Alliance, 2012). They require services and support to expand their in-country presence and reputation. Such businesses benefit from local knowledge and expertise to communicate in a state-owned media and heavily censored online environment plagued with restrictions and no or limited access to news outlets and communication platforms.
Fernandez, J. A. (2015). The Chinese economic reform. China Europe International Business School. Retrieved from http://www.ceibs.edu/ase/Documents/reform.htm
Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management. (2012). China PR country landscape. Retrieved from http://www.glovalalliancepr.org/website/Sites/default/files/nolie/PR%20Landscapes/China-2012.pdf
Reform in China: The quiet revolution. (2015, April 18). The Economist. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21648641-slowing-economy-commands -headlines-real-story-reform-quiet-revolution
Travel China Guide. (2015). Tiananmen Square. Retrieved from http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/beijing/tianan.htm