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Essay: Effects of One Nation: Two Systems on China, Hong Kong and Macau

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  • Published: 15 November 2019*
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Nationality of China

There have been many interpretations to the nationality of China, Non-the-less both Tiwan (the republic of China) and Mainland China (the people’s republic of China) recognize China as one nation by the dictates of the “one China principle” otherwise known as the 1992 consensus.

Certifying that China is indeed one nation, we will understand the premier system known to be supreme in china, then look at the introduction of the Capitalist system and conclude on the pattern and effect of both systems in China today.

China often characterized for its tradition and similar standards has now become a phenomenon in the last 40 years, with bountiful pockets of capitalism and foreign investment benefits.

Many other countries known for their rigid economic structure have tried to move towards open market capitalism, but end with a collapse in its political structure for example; the Soviet Union disintegrating in 1970. While China has managed to maintain the same bureaucracy as before and even more so broaden its economic synthesis without relinquishing its political power.

Understanding China as a Centrally Planned Government Rather Than a Communist State.

Firstly, what is communism, for is imperative that we certify that China was indeed a communist state. A comprehensive definition from dictionary.com will define “Communism in theory as a system in which all the means of production (land, labor, capital and enterprise) are owned in common rather than by individuals and in practice it is a practice in which a single party has control on both the political and economic systems.” This is the long term goal of a society as its proprietor Karl Marx would cite, Communism was to be the end of the class struggle and the problems of capitalism. In the communist manifesto we are made to see the majority working class (proletariat) in capitalism under the oppression of a minor more powerful group (bourgeoisie), who “constantly exploits the proletariat for its labour power, creating profit for themselves and accumulating capital”, this evidently leads to a revolution with the realization of potential from the proletariat, the overthrowing the bourgeoisie. And eventually comping to a communist society, the pinnacle of Socialism and utopian goal for every worker.

The point is communism was pronounced the society to break the shackles of capitalism but this view is questioned by the reality that many do not view communism as such, it is seen to be quite the opposite. In my study I have realized that this is due to the perception of different regimes who have presented themselves as communists and dominated the factors of production, this is contrary to the fact that Marx specifies Communism as control and management of production by the working class through democratic decision making bodies. It was to be the most democratic system. According to Marx the Communist society was to be a society of super abundance,  there would have been so much wealth in the society that there would no longer be need for classes or divisions, developing the factors to the highest degree.

Now China has been branded a communist country by Mao Tse-tung (also known as Mao Zedong) who followed the ideals of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin (Russian communist revolutionary) and became the chairman of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party from October 1, 1949 after the victory in the Chinese Civil War. But was China truly communist? It wasn’t. China as well as Russia  had economic planning i.e they practiced a planned economy; an essential part on the road to communism in which decisions are to be made by the working class, but in China, decisions had been decided by a bureaucracy which had risen above the working class, there had risen a sort of dictatorship of communism after the revolution retarding the growth proclaimed by Marx and Engels. The Chinese revolution was so important in history, As well as the Russian Revolution, because it liberated a large amount of people from the constraints of feudalism and capitalis, and played the foundation of economic change

From 1958, Mao Zendong set up the Great Leap forward campaign which led to famine and deaths of an estimated of at least 18 million, to the highest estimate by You Xuguang who suggested it was close to 45 million between 1958 and 1962, which led to the cultural revolution of 1966. As China strugguled to regain its Stability, the bureaucracy grew higher and higher above the people.

Capitalist Practices

In 1972, Richard Nixon became the first president from the U.S to visit China. At the end of this trip he signed the “Shanghai Communique“ with Premier Zhou Enlai (the first premier of the PRC) paving the way of bilateral trades.

The death of Mao, Deng Xiaoping became the country’s leader and gradually disbanded the label “Red China” from the views of foreign countries and create opportunities for investments by setting special economic zones along Hong Kong and Macau (they were still ruled by Britain and Portugal respectively at that time) to attract foreign investments. Red China is a dated term, used during Cold War by the West to describe China in a way that identified their similarities with the soviet Union, socialists ideology and all in all communist bloc. Deng set up an “Open door Policy” with tax incentive to attract them. Meanwhile the population of China experienced shocks as well, commentary from Fred Weston, a supporter of Marxism reports that “In 1976 an average industrial worker working 48 hours a week earned about $12 a month, while professional workers in China were earning $120 a month”.

One Nation: Two Systems

Many would argue that China turned capitalist because of Mao Zendongs death or because of Deng Xiaopings arrival, my view claims that this was not the case. What the Chinese government had intended on doing at this time was creating opportunities for economic growth by allowing markets to reform but still maintained overall control. A city for example Xiamen which has a historic look also posses bountiful stores and shops from American brands.

Opening Chinese boarders enabled competition and opportunities from foreign goods in almost all sectors of the economy. Through the reforms on trade and foreign investment, the Chinese government was able to reduce tariff and accept property rights and free market competition. China remains a centrally planned economy with large pockets of capitalism practiced in the international market so term of One Nation: two systems does to fully encompass the situation in mainland China. It will however define the situation of the twenty year anniversary of the return of Hong kong and Macau to the sovereignty of China.

It is imperative that we understand for a country to be capitalist, certain characteristics must follow not only loosening trips of boarders, there must be a profit first inclination, which china does not seem to possess as the government intended to possess farm, industry and for the general management of the people. Also China remains “culturally prejudice” and certain government regulations hinder foreign trade.

In 1997, Hong Kong gained its independence from Great Britain and its sovereignty was sovereignty was to the Chinese Nation. When HongKong was received back to China, it was certified by the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China that HongKong remain a Capitalist system. Also certain economic differences apply such that the China rebind is not a legal equivalent in Hong Kong. This autonomy held by Hong Kong is applicable to Macau and both have this autonomous advantage of independence. Chapter 1, Article 5 of the Hong Kong Basic Law states “The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years” and Article 31 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China guarantee the constitutional stability of Hong Kong and Macau’s political, legal and economic systems.

Effects of One Nation: Two Systems on China, Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong has independence over its own identity for example its own ethnicity, government, immigration, law enforcement but relies on the Peoples Republic of China for its military, in turn Hong Kong relinquishes its sovereignty to China. The effect of this results in numerous revolts in Hong Kong over this limited amount of control.The supremacy of the state has always been paramount over all revolutions or trends in China, in 2006 it was reported by the Mainland Affairs Council, Republic of Taiwan (MAC) that the mainland Chinese government had seriously been enforcing a One Nation principle instead of the ‘One Nation: Two systems’ principle. China(PRC) is a communist nation and Hong Kong practices Democracy. Its been reported that since the handover, there have been at least 169 controversial incidents involving infringements of freedom, human rights and the rule of law. This report though ends with a request to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to strengthen the official contacts of Hong Kong and Taiwan and further confuses the public as to whether Taiwan has plans to fully disintegrate from China and enjoy the independence HK and Macau. A survey in 2014(seventeen years after it’d independence) shows that three times the number of residents considered themselves hongkongers or Hong kongese. It does not help that these terms were added to the  Oxford Dictionary in 2014 strengthening the divided between these two nations.

Though there have been steady economic growth with the recognition in Hong Kong and Macau as part of China, As China’s economic growth has been constantly increasing, its GDP exceeding the Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan). when she joined WTO (World Trade Organization) in 2001 it signified deeper integration into international arena, the Shanghai Stock Exchange is the “third-largest in the world by market capitalization” (proclaimed by Business Insider, 2015), the Beging Olympic Games in 2008, and both national and international agreements. Macau has limited resources in gambling, manufacturing, tourism and banking but relies on China for its food, water and energy resources. while honking depends on china for its military. It is noticeable that Hong kong benefits from the one nation: two systems principle the most as it is the premier national business center in Asia and has been termed the most free economy in the world of 23 years by the Heritage foundation

Two decades ago when the conception of one nation: two systems was enacted there was a high degree of skepticism of the chances that it would work, says Clement Leung, the Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs to the U.S (June, 2017) but looking at the Hong kong objectively they have gained numerous advantages from the development reform and the opening up of china being an 11 trillion dollar economy and in need of service, which Hong Kong offers in form of trade and logistics and professional services.

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