Shanghai FTZ: A Symbol of China’s Opening-up

Forty years ago, it was inconceivable that China could completely transform itself from agrarian-based to the world’s second largest economy in such a short period of time. However, it has drastically transformed through its commitment to continuous reforms and gradual opening up policies. In the last 40 years, China has witnessed the fastest economic growth in human history. Its average annual GDP growth was close to an impressive 10 percent year-on-year until 2014. Per-capita income increased from US$155 in 1978 to a whopping US$7,590 in 2014: a 40-fold increase, that helped lift 700 million people above the poverty line.   This economic transformation begun in 1978, when China’s former Leader, Deng Xiaoping realized that the economic progress of the country could be accelerated by opening up the economy and following the export-led model. In order to realize this dream, he had set up several special economic zones across China. These zones not just attracted overseas investments but also facilitated the adoption of new technologies and management ideas, thus transforming them into export hubs. This watershed policy of inclusive growth and opening-up proved to be a game-changer for the nation. In order to further deepen Deng’s original reforms, Shanghai’s first pilot free trade zone was set up in September 2013 to bring new opportunities to the country. The Shanghai FTZ, since […]

Dec 10, 2018

Disney Brings Opportunity to Innovate for Chinese Competitors

Slated to open in the first half of 2016, Shanghai’s Disneyland will bring one of America’s most obvious soft power totems to China, with Mickey and crew undoubtedly gearing up to entertain the masses. But how will Disneyland be received upon its arrival? The park’s impending arrival seems to run a somewhat contradictory course to the supposed Chinese stance against Western ideology that has become something of a media meme in recent years, and some have gone as far as to call the park’s arrival “cultural invasion.” Mickey Mouse, Captain America, and an Enchanted Storybook Castle? These would certainly seem on the surface as hallmarks of American (for better or worse, the de facto standard-bearer of Western ideology) soft power and culture, so why now? Why let Disney come to China and bring all the swagger of recently-acquired Han Solo at a time when Western ideology is being demonized in some Chinese circles? As part of President Xi Jinping’s China Dream national rejuvenation plan, certain aspects of China will be needing an upgrade, and this extends to culture and services, two things that Disney does incredibly well…for a price. China seems hell-bent on trotting out the old standbys when it comes to Chinese soft power/culture: Confucius, Peking opera, pandas, and yet another Journey to the West vehicle. These are not […]

Sep 15, 2015