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China 2020

How Western Business Can—and Should—Influence Social and Political Change in the Coming Decade

Michael A. Santoro

Publication Year: 2009

Chinese society is plagued by many problems that have a direct impact on its current and future business and political environment-worker rights, product safety, Internet freedom, and the rule of law. Drawing on knowledge gained through personal interviews, documentary sources, and almost two decades of visits to China, Michael A. Santoro offers a clear-eyed view of the various internal forces-such as regionalism, corruption, and growing inequality-that will determine the direction and pace of economic, social, and political change. Of special interest is Santoro's assessment of the role of multinational corporations in fostering or undermining social and political progress.

Santoro offers a fresh and innovative way of thinking about two questions that have preoccupied Western observers for decades. What will be the effect of economic reform and prosperity on political reform? How can companies operate with moral integrity and ethics in China? In China 2020, Santoro unifies these hitherto separate questions and demonstrates that moral integrity (or lack of it) by Western business will have a profound impact on whether economic privatization and growth usher in greater democracy and respect for human rights.

China 2020 also offers a novel vision of China's future economic and political development. Santoro rejects the conventional view that China will muddle through the next decade with incremental social and political changes. Instead he argues that China will follow one or two widely divergent potential outcomes. It might continue to progress steadily toward greater prosperity, democracy, and respect for human rights, but it is also highly likely that China will instead fall backward economically and into an ever more authoritarian regime. The next decade will be one of the most important in the history of China, and, owing to China's global impact, the history of the modern world.

China 2020 describes various tectonic social and political battles going on within China. The outcomes of these struggles will depend on a number of powerful indigenous forces as well as the decisions and actions of individual Chinese citizens. Santoro strongly believes that Western businesses can-and should-influence these developments.

Published by: Cornell University Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-6


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pp. 7-8

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pp. vii-x

...Almost a decade has passed since I wrote another book—Profits and Principles: Global Capitalism and Human Rights in China (Cornell 2000)—on pretty much the same subject for the same publisher. So the reader naturally might wonder why I decided to write a second book and whether I have changed my mind about anything in the intervening years. Profits and Principles came out when the United States was debating ...

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pp. xi-xvi

...For nearly two decades, I have been traveling to China every year to teach MBA students and Chinese managers and to conduct field research in factories and offices. In that time, I have discussed the matters in this book with hundreds of Western and Chinese businesspersons, academics, lawyers, diplomats, human rights advocates, workers, government ...

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1. Beyond the Shadow of Tiananmen

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pp. 1-19

...When the Olympic cauldron rose into the night sky above Beijing’s National Stadium on August 8, 2008, it marked a momentous step in China’s emergence as a global power. The riveting spectacle, a combination of fi reworks, high-tech wizardry and precisely choreographed routines executed by thousands of Chinese citizens was extravagant even by ...

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2. The Clipboard, the Megaphone, and Socialist Characteristics

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pp. 20-46

...One of the most common and evocative images of China is the sweat-shop worker. Exploited and humiliated by her employer and oppressed by her own government, the Chinese worker commands an extraordinary amount of global attention and sympathy. Contributing to this attention is bit of old-fashioned protectionism and a belief that the low labor...

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3. Drug Safety Races to the Bottom

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pp. 47-70

...Just after the New Year in 2008, two children undergoing dialysis at St. Louis Children’s Hospital experienced severe allergic reactions. Their eyelids swelled, their heartbeats quickened, and their blood pressure dropped within two minutes of being hooked up to dialysis machines for their regular treatments. The attending physicians at the hospital had seen ...

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4. China 2.0

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pp. 71-100

...“Are you ashamed?” Representative Tom Lantos bellowed at executives from some of America’s leading technology companies. This was a notable low point for these executives from Cisco, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google during the February 2006 hearing before the United States House of Representatives International Relations Committee. In rapid sequence...

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5. Soft Seat* on the Long March

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pp. 101-128

...One of the most far-reaching and crucial aspects of China’s social and political transformation in the coming decade will be the growing importance of law and impersonal, neutrally applied rules. A fair and independent judicial system is essential to the emergence of human rights and democratic government. The path of this transformation is, however, far ...

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6. Conclusion

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pp. 129-142

...After nearly three decades of explosive economic growth and accompanying tectonic social changes, China’s future remains highly uncertain. This uncertainty has been heightened by the global financial meltdown that has reduced global demand for products manufactured by China’s export-dependent economy. The issues examined in this book—working ...


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pp. 143-154


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pp. 155-162

E-ISBN-13: 9780801459238
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801446955

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1