China’s History, Politics, Economy, Global Role

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China has emerged as the most important developing nation in the world. The country has demonstrated significant economic growth over the past two decades, and it is now regarded as one of the global powers in various areas, including economic, military, and international influence. This rise has been impressive, considering that China suffered significant in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During this period, the country faced political unrest, starvation by millions of its people, foreign occupation, and military defeats. The country was able to emerge from these failures, and it is today a dominant economic and political power. This paper will provide basic information on various aspects of China, including its history, politics, economy, and its role in the international community.


China has a long history that stretches back thousands of years. The country is referred to as “the cradle of civilization” since it is here that humans first invented writing, agriculture, and building technologies. However, modern China can trace its roots to 1911, when the Manchu Revolution took place (Vermeiren and Dierckx 1648). This popular uprising led to the fall of the Manchu dynasty, and for the first time, China was established as a republic under the Kuomintang (KMT) party. The Communist Party was established in 1921, and it worked together with the government to develop the Chinese Republic. However, this cordial relationship did not last, and after 1925, the KMT banned the Communist Party. This led to a protracted struggle by the Communist Party to defeat the KMT government. The communist forces succeeded and in 1949, the Communist Party under the leadership of Mao Zedong, succeeded in forming the People’s Republic of China.

Geo-Political Location

China is a country located in the Eastern part of the Asian continent. The country is located between North Korea and Vietnam, and it is bordered to the Northeast by Russia. The country has a land mass of 9.6 million square km, which places it as the country with the second largest land mass. Due to the vast land mass, China has a diverse climate with some regions exhibiting tropical conditions while others have subarctic conditions. The country has a mostly mountainous terrain with high plateaus and deserts in the west. The East section of the country consists of plains and hills. China has an expansive coastline that stretches to 14,500Km.

Foreign Policy and Diplomacy

China’s global prominence is the result of successful domestic policies and successful diplomacy. After the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the government adopted a policy of isolation. This foreign policy was based on the desire for independence and self-reliance (Glaser 77). However, the government choose to change from this policy in the late 1970s when it adopted a policy of openness. In spite of its Communist roots, China took care to ensure that communist ideology did not influence foreign policy or diplomatic relations. This adjustment in foreign policy had far-reaching consequences on China.

China’s diplomatic relationship with other countries began to grow following the admission of the country to the UN in 1971. Between 1991 and 1992, China worked on promoting its relationship with its neighbors under the “good neighbor” policy. It normalized relations with Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, and South Korea. The country then proceeded to establish good relations with other nations all over the world (Glaser 78). China’s diplomacy is aimed at advancing its natural interests. For example, the countries increasing involvement with African States is driven by China’s growing dependence on resource and energy imports from the continent.

China has a number of core priorities in its diplomatic relationships. The first one is for the mutual respect of each country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, which means that China respects the national interests of each nation (Womack 913). Another diplomatic principle adopted by China is that there should be mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. The Chinese therefore avoid trying to influence a nation to change its actions in the domestic scene.

The Economy

The most remarkable change in China has been in its Economic growth over the past decade and a half. It has gained economic centrality in Asia and it is not approaching parity with the US as a global economic power. Womack notes that while China is still far behind the developed nations in terms of GDP per capita and technological sophistication, the country has surpassed all but the US in aggregate GDP (919). China’s contribution to world trade is great since the country accounts for 10.5% of world trade (Xing and Shaw 75). It is widely predicted that China will take over the US as the world’s largest economy by 2030 (Xing and Shaw 74).

China has made numerous foreign direct investments in countries all over the world. Both state and private companies undertake China’s FDI (Vermeiren and Dierckx 1650). It has holdings in dollar denominate assets, which makes China America’s biggest foreign creditor. Xing and Shaw reveals that China is the holder of foreign exchange reserves of almost $3.3 trillion (77).

Hout reveals that China has made a deliberate shift from a low and middle-tech manufacturing economy to a sophisticated high-tech one (96). The government is increasing its Research and Development expenditure and it is expected to reach 2.5% of GDP by 2020. The government is funding projects in nanotechnology, quantum physics and new generation nuclear reactors.


The Chinese economy is heavily reliant on exports. Xing and Shaw note that China’s exports as a percentage of its GDP has been above 35% since 2004 (84). This makes China’s economy dependent on the global market therefore limiting the capacities of the state to pursue independent policies. While Chinese exports its products globally, its major export destinations are Hong Kong, US, Japan and South Korea. These four trading partner take 45% of China’s export products.


China is the largest global importer due to the large amount of energy and raw materials it gets from other nations. The demand is caused by the country’s thriving manufacturing sector, which has led to China been referred to as the world’s factory. China is a top export destination for numerous countries including the US and EU. It receives most of its advanced intermediate goods from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan while energy and raw materials are mostly obtained from Australia, Iran and Kazakhstan.

Membership in International and Regional Organizations

After embracing the policy of openness, China joined various organizations in the international community. The government recognized that these multilateral institutions could allow it to enhance its trade and security interests. To promote regional trade and cooperation, China launched the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area in 2002, which is made up of China and 10 Asian member countries. Vermeiren and Dierckx notes that China has encouraged economic and political cooperation in Asia (1649). China is a member of the Group of Twenty (G20), which is the international forum made up of 19 individual countries and the European Union. These 20 make up the top 20 global economies. China is the most powerful member of the association of the five major emerging economies known as the BRICS.

One of the most important international organizations that China belongs to is the United Nations. China has a permanent seat in the Security Council, which gives the country veto power to block resolutions made by the body. China succeeded in its accession to the WTO in 2001, an action that improved its global trade opportunities. China’s accession to the WTO was a strategic decision made by the government to take advantage of economic globalization (Urdinez 155).

Over the decade, China’s decision-making capacities in the IMF and the World Bank have increased. As of 2012, China’s votes in the World Bank increased from 2.77 to 4.42%, making it the third largest voting power in the institution. China provides loan facilities through its China Development Bank. Chinese lending has over the past decade surpassed that of the World Bank with more than 90 counties being indebted to this country. An important aspect of China’s loans is that they are offered without political conditions for the recipient countries (Xing and Shaw 79).


China is one of the most important political and economic powers in the world today. This paper set out to discuss this nation with a focus on its foreign policy and its trade relations with the rest of the world. China has good relations with its neighbors and the international community. After three decades of reforms and economic openness, the country has become integrated with the international economy and it plays a significant role globally. China is a key global political and economic player and it can be expected that the country’s role will only continue to grow in the coming years.

Works Cited

Glaser, Bonnie. “US-China relations managing differences remains an urgent challenge.” Southeast Asian Affairs 12.3 (2014): 76-82. Web.

Hout, Thomas. “China vs. the world.” Harvard Business Review 88.12 (2010): 94-103. Web.

Urdinez, Francisco. “China and the WTO: Will the Market Economy Status Make Any Difference after 2016?” Chinese Economy 48.2 (2015): 155-172. Print.

Vermeiren, Mattias and Sacha Dierckx. “Challenging Global Neoliberalism? The global political economy of China’s capital controls.” Third World Quarterly 33.9 (2012): 1647-1668. Print.

Womack, Brantly. “Beyond win-win: rethinking China’s international relationships in an era of economic uncertainty.” International Affairs 89.4 (2013): 911-928. Web.

Xing, Li and Timothy Shaw. “’Same Bed, Different Dreams’ and ‘Riding Tiger’ Dilemmas: China’s Rise and International Relations/Political Economy.” Journal of Chinese Political Science 19.1 (2014): 69-93. Web.

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