A Comparative Analysis Of US And China Essay Samples
The US and China are the world’s largest economies and military powers. They are also incidentally each other’s largest trading partners in spite of the political tension that exists between them. Although the trade relations between the countries are on a large scale and the economies are interdependent to a large extent, the two countries cannot be more different from each other. The Unites States of America is a capitalist democracy while China is a communist country. The US follows a bi-party system (not strictly bi-party as other parties and independents contest and get elected to office, but only one of the two parties has the realistic chances of holding the presidential office) while China has a single party system. While China comes under the mantle of developing countries, US is a developed country. The military influence of the Americans are on a global scale while the Chinese are more economically entrenched on the global level and militarily involved at the regional level. Regardless of the differences there are some similarities too and it is these substantial similarities which make the countries almost equal. Both countries are geographically huge, both are nuclear powers are both are permanent members of the UN Security Council. The economies of both the countries are so huge and powerful that a slump in either one of these countries will have a domino effect on the rest of the world. The US cannot be considered a great country because of its democratic nature and military might and China cannot be considered great because of its economic and military might. A comparative study of both the countries reveals that both the countries are entirely different in their own ways and the developed status of one nation does not make it any better or superior than the other. But the GDP and political freedom of the citizens are taken into account to measure the superiority of a country, then the US with its vast political freedoms to its citizens and a higher per capita income will rank superior than China. Also compared to China, the US has a better track record in human rights.
The American and Chinese Political system
The US follows the federal system where there is a division and sharing of power between the national and the state governments. There is also the separation of powers between the legislature, judiciary and the executive ensuring that all three are interdependent and no one arm of the government has more power than the other. America is also one of the first countries to have a written constitution and separates religion from the state affairs. Although America did not start out as a democracy (the founding fathers had their doubts about too much power in the hands of the common people, also the existence of slavery meant that not everyone had equal rights), it was in fact a result of the various twists and turns of the American political history ( Textbook 55). The American political structure is presidential, with the elected members forming the House of Representatives and the senate. The political culture of the Unites states is that the citizens do not question the constitution as the basis of the state (although there are a few calls for amendments now and then such as the rights of gay people to get married), they believe in individualism and want the state to play a small role (even those who are on state benefits). The democratic and the republican parties are two of the political parties in the Unites states and have been alternating at the oval office ever since the beginning of elections in the country. Although the Democrats are considered to be more liberal than the republicans, at times there is not much difference between the two parties when it comes to policy making. Not only do they follow similar policies locally and internationally, genuine interest to change a policy by one of the parties in power can be thwarted when the other party has a majority in the House of Representatives or the senate.
The bi-party system is thus seen by many as a curse to the democratic nature of the American political system. But there are signs of changes in this system as there has been a recent growth in the number of independents contesting elections. The American state is a weak state when it concerns the domestic politics. Decision making is not entirely under the control of the government but is influenced by other factors such as big corporations and interest groups. Although the president of America is considered the most powerful man on the planet, domestically he is not as powerful. His executive powers could rarely be put to use as there is stiff opposition from the House and the senate. Passing a bill also is quite difficult in the country as it requires the support of the House of Representatives as well as the senate. A bill could never see the light of the day if wither the senate or the House of Representatives are against it. This is a problem when they are only two parties and one party has a majority in the House of Representatives and the senate. The president in this case becomes no more than a symbolic head with very little powers inside the country. The supreme court of America is also the only such court in the world which has the power of judicial review. This can seriously undermine the governmental decisions and there have been numerous instances of judicial reviews in the history of the Unites States.
The Chinese political structure is completely different from that of the American political system. It is a single party system and the Chinese Communist Party has been in power for over sixty years now. Although the CCP has a virtual monopoly of power within the state it is a different story when it comes to power within the CCP. There is a constant struggle for power within the politburo standing committee and the politburo and the appointment of leaders is still determined largely through family connections. The closed and mostly secretive political structure thus easily falls prey to nepotism and corruption. Every aspect of the Chinese political and economic scene comes under the purview of the communist party and even the judiciary is secondary to the party’s dictates. The Chinese military too is not owned by the state but is rather owned by the party. True to its Leninist roots, the Chinese Communist Party dominates state and society in China. Its power rests on four pillars: its control of China’s approximately 2.25 million person-strong military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), its 1.5 million person-strong paramilitary force, the People’s Armed Police, and its 800,000 other internal security forces; its control of personnel appointments across all political institutions, the military, state-owned corporations, and public institutions; its control of the media; and its control of the judiciary and the internal security apparatus. The Party’s leadership role is referenced five times in the preamble to the PRC’s 1982 constitution, but is not mentioned in any of the articles of the constitution, creating ambiguity about the legal basis for the Party’s vast powers (Fisher 5). The legislature in China is strong on paper but quite weak in practice unlike the US. China’s constitution adapted in 1982 gives the legislature the rights to amend the constitution, impeach high officials, approve budget plans and more, in reality the actual power lies within the party. The legislature in China, the National People’s Congress is little more than a rubber stamp for the party’s decisions. It just ratifies the decisions made by the party. Amendments made to the Chinese constitution also ensures that the president or no single person has too much power; the politburo controls the executive decision making. Even then the Chinese president is much more powerful than the American president.
The American and Chinese Economies
The American and Chinese economies are the number one and two largest economies of the world. While the American economy is that of a developed nation, the Chinese economy is one of the developing nations. From 1979 (when economic reforms began) to 2013, China’s real gross Domestic product (GDP) grew at an average annual rate of nearly 10%. It has also been estimated that almost half of its population had been lifted out of extreme poverty because of the economic initiatives. Compared to the US where the standard of life and the average income of the household had fallen over the decades, the Chinese economic miracle is better and much more substantial. The growing economy has also made China one of the US’ largest trading partners so much that the economies of these countries are dependent on each other. Chinese state policies have transformed China into an export powerhouse, with the U.S. market its main target. Initially, Chinese exports were predominately labor intensive, low-technology products, such as textiles and shoes. However, beginning in the mid-1990s, China also became a major exporter of higher valued added, high-technology products, such as computers, cell phones, and other consumer electronics (Hart-Landsberg 2010). Although it is true that the Chinese have more jobs on offer, the fact remains that the Chinese worker has relatively fewer or no labor rights when compared to the American worker. The American worker is protected by labor laws and unions which are largely absent in China. Economic prosperity in China has thus come at a cost of the human rights of the ordinary workers. Living conditions of the internal migrant laborers are also pretty appalling in China and they are vulnerable to exploitation by both the government and the companies that hire them. The wage of a Chinese laborer is much less compared to that of an American laborer signifying the difference in not only the rights of laborers to proper pay but also the general state of the countries. The US economy is not dependent on FDI’s as much as the Chinese economy. Also the US has a much stronger position Vis a Vis china on the economic front as it has proven reserves of oil and other mineral resources to help it get by without over dependence on other countries. Reforms in the American economy has meant that the unemployment rate had gone down in the country and there are more jobs in the offing. However in China, the number of jobs are decreasing as the economy is export oriented and the domestic industries are failing. The American citizen still has a higher standard of living when compared to the Chinese citizen who not only has to deal with low wages and very little rights but also has to deal with the lack of a political space where he or she can show dissent. China’s growing economy has not meant that the average citizen is well off. Getting out of poverty also has not meant that their lives have been completely transformed. The American has a better chance at equal rights and basic pay when compared to the Chinese citizen. Even though the US had huge external debts and the balance of payment is bad, the economy is still strong and growing economies like China are forced to support it. The Chinese economic miracle on the other hand is already showing signs of a crack as the property bubbles burst and FDI’s dry up. The per capita income in the US is much better than that of China and the average worker has more rights. These two reasons alone make the US a slightly superior country than China in spite of its economic growth.
The American people have a lot more political freedom when compared to the Chinese. Not only are they free to elect who they want to rule, they are also free to protest against some rules and regulations that they feel unjust. America also happens to be one of the countries which pioneered the new social movements and the mass protest movements. The civil rights movement and protests, the hippie movement, gay rights movements and environmental protests are some of the examples where there have been mass protests against the states. These protests have also been instrumental in changing certain rules and making amendments to the American constitution, something the Chinese people cannot think of. The Chinese comes under a single party system and do not really have a say as to who comes to power. Protest is also largely unheard of and when people do protest, it is largely quelled violently. The Tiananmen uprising and the violent way in which the protests was put down is still remembered by many in China and the world. Protests in Hong Kong recently were also put down by the Chinese authorities. Dissent is something that is not encouraged or accepted by the Chinese government. Loyalty to the party and the government is considered foremost as political oppression permeates into personal decision making too when the people are told how many kids they can have.
The one-child policy in China is an example of how much little political freedom the Chinese enjoy compared to that of an average American. While there is a division of religion and the state in the United States the citizens are free to follow and preach any religion. This is not possible in China as the state religion is communism and following of any other religion is considered an act against the state. The lack of political freedom of the Chinese is also reflected in the internet. Although the internet is a free space, the Chinese government is the ultimate authority in deciding what they Chinese people can access. Sites like twitter that was instrumental in the Arab Spring are banned in China. In fact there exists what is called a’ network Authoritarianism’ (McKinnon 3) where the state controls access to the internet, can stalk protesters and curb their individual freedom. The Chinese judiciary and legislative system is also vulnerable to political influence and this affects the economic freedom of the people as well. Since the state owns all of the land in the country, citizens and companies can only hold on to land for a period of time that involves long leases. Even though China liberalized its economy in the 80’s and have been opening up its economy ever since, the freedom or openness has not permeated to the lowest levels of the society. The communist party of China still tightly controls many aspects of the citizen’s life including the freedom of political expression, right to free speech, religion and assembly.
It is not to say that the political freedom in the United States had led to equality. The racially motivated police shooting of black teenagers and the rulings of certain states against abortion and gay marriage still shows that the country is a long way from attaining complete equality and political rights for all of its citizens. Although on its own the US does not have a great human rights record or political and economic equality, compared to China, the American citizens enjoy a great deal of political and economic freedom (the political participation and knowledge of politics is however something that remains dismal with many not exercising their democratic right to vote and having very little knowledge of how the political system works). China ranks pretty low when it comes to political freedom of its minorities and human rights abuses within its borders. The Uighurs (the Muslim minority) and the Tibetans have absolutely no say in the political scene and are persecuted in their homeland.
Although the Unites States is a developed country, it is one of the industrialized democracies which does not offer basic health care to all of its citizens. In this sense it is no different from a developing country which cannot afford basic health care to all of its citizens. The absence of health care to all citizens in the two countries is less about affordability and more about the absence of political will. Although the two countries have a widely different capitalist and communist economic and political system, both the countries are similar in the fact that there has been a huge income inequality among the citizens and the income gap is only rising in both the countries. Also similar is the fact that there has been no political upheavals in both the countries even when the unemployment rates have gone up and the living conditions have become miserable than the previous generation for many people. In spite of having a democratic form of government and more political freedom for all its citizens, the US resembles China when it comes to the question of women and minorities in power. The US still has not seen a woman president just like China does not have any standing members in the politburo. It took more than 200 years for the US to elect its first black president and China is even worse as the ethnic and religious minorities have absolutely no say in the politics of the country. Both the countries spend quite a lot on their militaries and have hegemonic ambitions. In fact there are a lot of similarities between the countries in spite of the fundamental differences between the two. The US in spite of its developed nation status grapples with problems of unemployment, health care, racial issues and falling GDP like any other developing nation. But the basic human rights of a citizen are protected in the United States and a person there has much more chances of seeing justice done than someone in China. The corruption levels are also low in the US and when compared to China, it can be called non-existent.
Another thing that makes the US better than China is the political freedom that the Americans enjoy. Even though the Chinese are witnessing rapid growth, urbanization and more money in the economy, the lack of political freedom to the people means that the economic growth is not a complete success. Democracy and political freedom of the masses may come with its own problems but it still is preferable over an authoritarian state like that of China. Supporters of the communist model of government in China can argue that it is this very lack of political freedom and powerful state that has led to the economic miracle in the country and has lifted many out of poverty. For indeed a state with limited natural resources to the number of people to become an economic giant in such a short time is nothing short of a miracle. But the human and environmental cost of the economic miracle nullifies any economic progress. Political freedom, Economic prosperity and wellbeing and contemporary government in the US make it a better place to live than China. If GDP and political freedom were to be taken as the deciding factors in determining the superiority of one state over another, then US as a developed nation with a high GDP and per capita income would be a superior state than China.
Landsberg, Martin Hart. “The U.S. Economy and China: Capitalism, Class, and Crisis.” Monthly Review. 61. 9 (2010): 7. Print
MacKinnon, Rebecca. “Networked Authoritarianism in China and Beyond: Implications for global Internet freedom.” Paper presented at: Liberation Technology in Authoritarian Regimes Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). Stanford University. October 2010.
Fisher. D. Richard, Jr. China’s Military Modernization: Building for Regional and Global
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Morrison. M. Wayne. “China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States.” CRS Report. Congressional Research Service. 2010.
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