On the evening of November 5, in Tachikawa Hall, the Rikkyo College of Business (COB) held a symposium featuring keynote speaker Dr. Erik Brødsgaard Kjel, director of the Asia Research Centre at the Copenhagen Business School of the University of Copenhagen, one of COB’s exchange partners. The title of his talk was China’s New Civil Society Organization, State Owned Enterprises, and the Market.
In 2010, China’s economy became the world’s second largest by GNP, surpassing Japan’s, and it continues to grow. This fall, China's leadership will complete its leadership transition with Xi Jinping succeeding Hu Jintao after his ten-year rein as premier. Over the last two years Japan-China relations have been destabilized beginning with a crackdown on Chinese fishing boats operating in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands. In spite of not having a good relationship politically, the two countries continue to deepen their economic interdependence and this “Politically cold, economically hot” relationship has been shown to be unsustainable.
Following greetings by COB Dean Yasunori Matsui, Prof. Kjel, a leading Nordic researcher on China, made his keynote speech. He described how under Hu Jintao’s leadership the trend toward privatization of state-owned enterprises—which had been promoted in the 1990’s—has been completely reversed, making state-owned enterprises huge, and significantly impacting the market. Economic reform, with a focus on deregulation and commercialization, which had been expected, has not proceeded. State-owned enterprises have become all-powerful and the Communist Party controls their managers in a complex mix of vested interests, such that standard market principles are not followed. Arbitrary policy intervention and corruption is widespread, and there is an expanding gap between rich and the poor, with consequent negative ramifications for the Chinese economy. Prof. Kjel explained that diplomatic tensions with Japan have been exploited to draw attention away from domestic problems, and scandals such as that involving Bo Xilai have created strains in the Chinese political system.
After the lecture commentator Chiharu Takenaka, Professor of Rikkyo’s Faculty of Law, discussed her findings on civil society in India and other emerging economies from the point of view of both political economics and business administration. Compared with China, India’s pattern of economic growth, despite a number of problems such as infrastructure bottlenecks, seems to be more sustainable. In India, a civil society based on democracy and the rule of law over the medium to long term should be more effective than China’s system.
Approximately sixty persons attended the event, including Rikkyo COB students, graduate students and faculty, as well as members of the general public. There was a lively question and answer session, and a wide range of views was exchanged on China's political and civil society. According to the questionnaire collected after the event, participants were particularly interested to hear an objective view on neighboring China and to learn about similarities and differences between China and India.
The recuture's material can be download from here
Reporting by Megumi Higuchi