The subregion East Asia is quite variable in its economic, political, social and other characteristics. It appears that an average person knows not so much about the subregion, only some common surface facts from history, nowadays economy and policy. Talking about China, should be mentioned thousand years of the country’s history and deep culture transpiercing through the life of society today. Moreover, to the preconceived statements about China could be referred: cheap labor, conservative and closed communist policy, quick development of economy, overpopulated territory, cheap products supplied all over the world. Some of these preconceived statements really find their proof in the video “Changes on the Chang Jiang”, basing on the example of Shanghai and Sijia.
Many countries of the world face the problem of disparity between rural and urban areas, agricultural and industrial territories. The video demonstrates the polarity and at the same time the unity of two contrasts: Shanghai and Sijia. Shanghai is an industrial center of China, overpopulated and the most economically developed area. Sijia is poor, agriculture territory with little population, not enough even for the only manufacture in the village. However, both have increased their economy due to advantageous geographical location.
The video reveals that Shanghai for many years under the rule of the Great Britain in XIX century was an open trading city, but later, unfortunately, the situation changed as Chinese communist government was afraid of foreign influence, which was so obvious for decades in Shanghai, and so did not invest in the city development. The city was experiencing the decline. The situation changed only in 1991, when, thanks to Shanghai politicians, the city was proclaimed a Special Economic Zone. Since then, only thirty years passed and Shanghai became an important strategic port and global business center (Wisniewski & Stow, 2003). In such way, Shanghai took its usual historical place as an open city. Quick economic growth can be seen also in a small village Sijia, where, based on foreign investments, a manufacture “Haufa Garments Company” was established. For the last 20 years, the poor agricultural village became economically stable territory with sufficient social level of life, which now hosts workers from other areas. These two facts confirm the preconceived idea about quick economic development of China but at the same time weakens the idea of conservative and closed governmental policy. Making further investigation some arguments are found in other sources. For example, Chen (2011) states “Having today in flow around $1000 billion, China became the largest recipient of foreign investments among developing countries”. This thesis allows assert about the enough level of openness of Chinese economy and partly demolishes the preconceived idea about closed and conservative governmental policy.
On the example of the Sijia village can be found the proof for the statement of cheap labor in China. Working 12 hours per day and having only two days off per month, monthly wage of a worker is only $25-$35 (Wisniewski & Stow, 2003). Low wage is one of the reasons of low prices for final products. Chinese export increased by more than 500 percent over the last fifteen years (Feenstra & Wei, 2010). Therefore, as it was assumed, China supplies cheap products to many countries of the world.
The video and additional sources not only confirm or deny some preconceived ideas about China but also give plenty of new information. Economical successes in villages reduce the rate of rural-to-urban migration and, as a result, it leads to more or less even concentration of the population in the country. Advantageous geographical position and correct use of this privilege make a big contribution to economic development. “Shanghai is not only a seaport but also a gateway to inland China” (Wisniewski & Stow, 2003), as it has access to the world’s third largest river Chang Jiang. Sijia, owing to the fact of the close location to the river has one more reason to reduce the price for the final product, using such cheap transportation as shipping.
The video reviews China from different sides, economy, society, geography, and reveals China’s reinforcement and weakness. Some assumptions about cheap labor and products, rapid economic development, overpopulation of territories find their proof in the video. On the other hand, the video dispelled the myth about closed and conservative governmental policy in the field of economy. Moreover, the information in the analyzed video considerably broadens audience’s outlook about China in general and about Shanghai and Sijia in particular.