We live in a society in which economic rationalism predominates and those who simply discount or dismiss economic arguments around migration policy risk being ignored. There is something abhorrent about reducing the life of an asylum seeker to a dollar amount on a balance sheet. For this reason, it’s important that an economically-minded approach doesn’t replace calls for more compassion, but operates alongside it.
In his new year’s speech, President Xi Jinping told the Chinese people that their nation was in the process of implementing something unprecedented. There would be challenges, he warned, but if China remained united the ultimate goal of creating ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ could be achieved.
It’s easy to dismiss this kind of rhetoric. After all, China’s economic reforms seem to be moving away from socialism towards capitalism at a rate never before seen. However, it’s important to understand what the country’s leaders mean when they talk about ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. Moreover, it helps understand the Communist Party’s response to the recent stock market crash.
China’s one-child policy is frequently framed as an economic and social imperative, implemented not wilfully, but rather as a necessity. Those favoring this argument often fail to acknowledge that the supposed necessity of state-sanctioned birth control came after decades of Mao Zedong dictating that the population give birth to hordes of children, so they could prop up the numbers of the People’s Liberations Army (PLA) and contribute to the country’s labor drive. The wombs of Chinese women have thus been the property of the state from the time the Communist Party came to power.
It’s become a matter of routine that every year the United States and China – from their respective positions of moral superiority – take part in a diplomatic tit-for-tat in which they each document the other’s human rights violations. In America, this takes the form of a State Department Country Report, which, incidentally, they issue for every nation. In China, the report’s published by the Information Office and runs in the state-owned Chinese and English-language newspapers.
In the old imperial district of Beijing, a Ming dynasty mansion is now used as an auxiliary campus by Beijing Normal University. In one of the converted classrooms a group of students are making preparations to leave for Australia next semester and begin their university education abroad. Their first stop will be the University of Adelaide for a two-month intensive language and study skills program.