The modernisation of China (from 1978-1988) and its impact on ASEAN.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Modernisation has been a goal in China for more than a century. The late Qing Court, the Nationalist Government and the Communist leadership had all tried to launch China onto the road to modernisation. It has been a goal shared by all Chinese leaders but questions concerning the strategy, the scope, the timetable and practical implementation caused mud, debate, even till these days. The sweeping economic changes in China in the name of modernisation since Mao's death had sparked off lots of controversies among China watchers as regards to China's future direction and its impact on the international scene. China's embarkment upon a path of modernisation based on increasing dependence on foreign trade, foreign investments and financing was greeted initially with enthusiasm by many countries, particularly Japan and the advanced industrialised countries of the West, partly because of the potential that the China market presented. However, China's smaller ASEAN neighbours in South-east Asia looked at China's modernisation with some ambivalence. China, by virtue of its physical size, huge population, geographical location, its cultural and historical influence and its communist ideology and rhetorics expounded since the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, has over the years resulted in some uneasiness and apprehension amongst her southern neighbours.
It is in the light of these interesting developments in China for the last ten years (1978-88) that this thesis is written. The thesis is essentially a discussion of China's modernisation efforts for the past decade and the impact these had on her ASEAN neighbours. Based primarily on library research and secondary sources, a historical background of China's long experience with modernisation is given in the first chapter. The immediate reasons behind the change to the present model of development adopted not long after Mao's death are also explored. Chapter Two then goes on to describe the various new policies adopted by the Chinese leadership in order to achieve the goals of modernisation that they have set. The impact of China's modernising efforts on ASEAN's security is discussed in Chapter Three. Chinese influence on ASEAN's security is examined with regards to four main areas: China's relations with other superpowers in the Southeast Asia region, its policies towards the ASEAN communist parties and the overseas Chinese and China's claims over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The economic impact of China's modernisation on the ASEAN countries is dealt with in Chapter Four. As the costs and benefits of China’s modernisation is unevenly spread amongst the ASEAN countries, the evaluation is done in the perspective of individual ASEAN countries. Chapter Five summarises the impact of China's modernisation in the last decade, 1978 to 1988, on the ASEAN countries. It attempts to determine if indeed a modernising China had .been a stabilising influence in the Southeast Asian region, contributing to the overall security of ASEAN. It also answers the questions if efforts at economic modernisation in China has helped to explain any changes in China's policies towards the ASEAN communist parties and the overseas Chinese communities in the ASEAN countries.