Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
comes associated with such strategies.
In China's water-management sector, different constituent groups use different moral ar-
guments to support their positions about hydropower development. For the central govern-
ment and for the large hydropower corporations that build and operate the dams, providing
reliable electrical power to fuel China's economic growth is the primary concern. For loc-
al communities, the paramount moral issues center on people's ability to participate in the
decision-making processes that have the potential to change their lives dramatically, to re-
tain access to farmland, and to receive adequate compensation for their losses. For interna-
tional conservation organizations, the moral imperative is to preserve a region of immense
biodiversity; these groups effectively stake a claim on local resources as a form of global
biological heritage.
Such moral concerns are commonly confronted in the arena of international develop-
ment, but they take on greater complexity and nuance in the context of contemporary Ch-
ina, which for the past several decades has undergone the most far-reaching economic
transformation in history. Development remains a powerful concept in the modern world,
one that mobilizes a great deal of capital and expertise. In the undergraduate course I teach
on international development, I often begin the first class lecture by telling students that
we will examine the concept of development through three interrelated lenses: its object-
ives, its instruments, and its outcomes. The objectives of development—infrastructural im-
provement, poverty alleviation, the expansion of educational opportunities, the reduction
of mortality and morbidity, among others—have been around for a long time, even as they
have undergone significant evolution. The international financial institutions created by the
Bretton Woods Accords in 1944, including the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund, were designed to rebuild Europe after World War II; after accomplishing this goal, of
course, they did not fade into obsolescence but rather refocused their energies and retooled
their agendas to address poverty alleviation in the developing world.
However, the instruments of international development vary considerably across regions
and across time periods. Should national governments take the lead, or should multilateral
agencies? What role should NGOs play? Many of the textbooks commonly used in inter-
national development courses fail to include much detail on China, probably because the
authors have a difficult time placing the country into one of the categorical paradigms of
development theory. China doesn't fit “modernization theory” as well as Japan does. It
doesn't exemplify “dependency theory” like Chile or Argentina. Given the market-oriented
reforms of the past several decades, it doesn't fit “state-led development” quite as well as
it once did. Nor does it illustrate “neoclassical development” quite as effectively as Mex-
ico. China's recent development path is a hybrid model, combining market logic, a contin-
ued legacy of state planning in key sectors, and close ties between political and economic
Search WWH ::

Custom Search