This document is part of the Festschrift in Honor of Charles Speel, edited by Thomas J. Sienkewicz and James E. Betts and published by Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois in 1997. The Table of Contents for this volume can be accessed here. If you have any questions, you may contact Tom Sienkewicz at

Religious Belief and Asia's Economic Growth:

the Hong Kong--China Connection

Robert E. Gamer MC'60

People have been asking about our recent trip to Hong Kong. I jotted down some of their comments: "China must be looking forward to taking over Hong Kong's wealth." "How can free enterprise continue there if it becomes part of a communist system?" "Can Hong Kong teach China to be productive?" "Can Hong Kong adjust to autocratic rule?" "After all these years under communism, can the Chinese develop a democratic mentality?"

Questions like this point to our culture's interest in rules,1 restraints, and rhetoric. I am struck by how seldom Americans (despite our avowed interest in "multiculturalism") ask how culture, and especially religious tradition, affects economic and political change in other countries. After all, societies have had religion longer than they have had the rules, restraints, and rhetoric associated with communism, free enterprise, or democracy.

Americans make ideological judgments about our own (and other countries') economic successes and failures based on motivation: work ethic, Weber's Protestant Ethic, "family values," self-reliance, individualism. But we seldom use culture, especially religious tenets and habits, as a basis for analyzing economic behavior: "How will the cultural and religious traditions of Hong Kong and China affect their entrepreneurship and productivity?" Americans know Asians have a strong work ethic. That work ethic, however, is not based on self-reliance and individualism. It involves guilt, but not the guilt on which the Protestant Ethic is based. Like Americans, Asian parents worry that their children are picking up alien values; but on the whole the Asian family continues to have more influence over its children's values than does the fragmenting family in our secular society. To understand these differing work ethics one must move beyond psychology to examine the culture and religious traditions on which they are based.

A plethora of talk shows, "self-help" Bradshaw and Campbell books, and articles in periodicals provide us with "pop culture" explanations of personal dysfunction and generational change. A related line of discussion in these formats examines how business can reorganize rules and restraints and use rhetoric to improve motivation and productivity.

Why do people choose to work and what do they hope to accomplish by it? Such discussions often analyze motives like power, fear, personal security, money, and recognition from peers. Organizational rules, political restraints, and ideological rhetoric can tap those motives. But a stimulus that works in one culture may not work in another. To find out why people become entrepreneurs, are productive, and stimulate economic growth one needs to know about their cultural and religious traditions.

Hong Kong Approaching 1997

It is tempting to view Hong Kong as a free-market port whose people value the right of the individual to make market decisions. We can envision great numbers of individual entrepreneurs producing goods in their shophouses and selling them to the world. Without the restraints of heavy taxation and regulation, they feel free to unleash their human potential to innovate, manufacture, and market.

One could expect Hong Kong's entry into China in 1997 to place a damper on this productivity. Despite guarantees to the contrary, China might at any time place new restraints on Hong Kong's market. China's central government could use its power to impose new taxation on trade, force plants to comply with new regulations, and even confiscate wealth or end trade relations. Its communist ideology might tempt it to level off the disparities between Hong Kong's very rich and very poor, and impose an "iron rice bowl" culture on China's businesses, forcing them to provide their employees with a broad range of social services.

Of course, all that could happen. But a bit more attention to Hong Kong's economic climate and cultural habits and beliefs adds other dimensions to this picture of an outside communist power taking over a free-market Hong Kong.

First, Hong Kong's economy is heavily intertwined with China's, and it has a strong welfare-state component. Hong Kong no longer produces much (the plants have moved to China), but provides its citizens with a range of social services enviable in China or even England at the height of the welfare state.

Furthermore, its citizens and those of China share common values that have been fostering social cohesion, easing market restraints, and fueling economic growth in both places. And Hong Kong benefits from Western values which China needs for its own success.

So the growth of the entire region depends on symbiosis that cannot be explained by contrasting communism and free markets. Both China and Hong Kong benefit from Western and Chinese cultural and religious traditions that long precede communism or western capitalism. Some of those traditions also hold back their ability to grow.

Hong Kong's Interdependence with China

Hong Kong is the world's fifth largest trading economy (following the European Union, the United States, Japan, and Canada). That reflects China's growth as well. Between 1970 and 1993 Hong Kong's economy quadrupled in size (its per capita Gross Domestic Product surpasses Britain, Australia, Canada, and Italy), but the percentage of its GDP deriving from manufacturing dropped from thirty one to eleven percent. Over eighty percent of Hong Kong manufacturers set up production facilities in China, where they employ some 5 million people (more than double Hong Kong's work force).2 Hong Kong's trade in goods expanded 37-fold.3 Eighty percent of its exports are either to or from China; more than half of China's exports are handled through Hong Kong.4

The economic connection between China and Hong Kong continues to expand rapidly. Hong Kong's January to March 1995 exports and re-exports to China grew by 20.1% over the previous year. Over 800 sailings, 72 flights, 20 trains and 23,000 vehicles cross their border each day; Hong Kong residents make 25 million trips to China each year. Sixty-four percent of China's foreign investment comes from Hong Kong; China is the largest investor in Hong Kong (US$25 billion).5

Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport is the world's second busiest with cargo tons carried and the third busiest with passengers, and Hong Kong harbor is the world's busiest container port; airport traffic is growing ten percent a year and harbor cargo by twenty percent. The Pearl River delta, where Hong Kong is situated, is the fastest growing economic region in the world.

To adapt for its new roles as China's financier, marketer, raw materials supplier, quality controller, packager, and shipper Hong Kong's government has invested heavily in developing harbor and airport facilities, office and convention space, education, housing, and health care.6

The new airport, served by new superhighways and railways (including new tunnels and the world's longest road/rail suspension bridge),7 will cost over seven billion US dollars. The entire harbor is being transformed by reclamation and new berths. The city's convention center, recently housed in a new complex of buildings (including the then-tallest8 skyscraper in Asia) is being expanded into the harbor with a new building resembling Sydney's opera house.

Since 1970, expenditures on public housing have grown over six percent a year (Welsh 1993:478); over half the populace lives in subsidized public housing, paying low rent or purchase fees.9 Health care at family planning, child and maternal health centers, social hygiene clinics, tuberculosis clinics, and emergency wards is provided free of charge, and other health services are heavily subsidized by the government.10

Between 1988 and 1995 the percentage of Hong Kong workers in manufacturing shrank from half to under a fifth. The government spends twenty-one percent of its recurrent, and five percent of its capital, budget on education to ensure that the work force adapts to the new demands of technology and the service economy. Students with inadequate means receive grants to pay for school fees, travel, and textbooks from primary school through university. In 1988, five percent of those 17-20 years old were in higher education; in 1985, eighteen percent. Hong Kong had one university at the end of World War II; six have been founded since, including four within the past ten years specializing in business, technical and adult education. Secondary schools offer many technical, industrial and business courses, with apprenticeships, and training for the disabled. Buildings and equipment are modern and advanced.11

Economic expansion extends right up the Pearl River delta, all along China's coast and Yangtze River plain (where Shanghai plays roles similar to Hong Kong), and into cities throughout China. Shenzhen, Xiamen, and Zhuhai--the first "special economic zones" created under Deng Xiaoping's 1978 reforms--are growing their GDP twenty percent a year, while Hong Kong clumps along at six percent. They are linking with superhighways and opening port facilities, airports, and vast new complexes of skyscrapers and factories. Within them, employers and local governments provide workers' housing, schools, and hospitals. Few environmental, health, safety, employee rights or product quality regulations encumber the factories.

Religious and Cultural Traditions

China's society is rooted in Confucian tradition, whose ethic is based upon propriety in five basic relationships. Everyone is expected to display affection in their relationships as parent and child, distinction as husband and wife, and sincerity with specially selected friends. Older and younger brothers should seek order between themselves, and rulers seek righteousness in dealing with their subjects.

Both parties in these relationships are expected to behave toward one another in certain prescribed ways. Part of this prescription involves deference: children obey parents ("filial piety"), subjects obey rulers, wives obey husbands (this hierarchy is slowly softening), younger brothers obey elder brothers. In return, the parents, rulers, husbands, and elder brothers owe obligations to the other party. And, in the fifth relationship, one never fails to cooperate with and reciprocate favors from special friends to which one develops special "guanxi" connections.12

Fulfilling these obligations is the highest attainment of moral cultivation, which in turn produces social harmony. There is no greater perfection in life than to be a good parent or offspring, spouse, ruler, or subject. Personal moral perfection is in harmony with social order. That stands in sharp contrast to Christianity and Buddhism as practiced outside China. To seek moral perfection in those religions people may be called upon to leave their families and take up a monastic life or help strangers, or to resist the commands of rulers when they conflict with higher laws.

While Chinese are expected to render required obedience without question, there are limits. Serious breaches in propriety could be appealed to the emperor. No one could publicly express the view that the emperor had failed to fulfill obligations. Yet he, too, was subject to limits. Peace, order, and prosperity were proof he was ruling justly; his judge was Heaven (not voters), and it must be smiling.

Bad weather, crop failure, famine, earthquakes, and civil war were signs the Mandate of Heaven had been withdrawn; then, and only then, rebellion was justified, and a challenger might receive popular support in leading revolt. The revolt, and the bad times surrounding it, indicated the authority of the emperor was weak and need not be obeyed because justice was in decline. The people, and Heaven, would then help the more just of the two win, restoring authority. Subjects were again obedient.

There were more subtle ways to rebel, however. Many of them revolved around clans, and the fifth relationship, guanxi, with special selected friends. They were enhanced by a belief that authority can be ignored until one is directly confronted with it, and by emperors' reluctance to ask subjects to take actions not in accord with the five basic relationships.

Scholar-officials formed the highest level of the government bureaucracy, and were charged with ensuring that all individuals, and ranks in society, carried out their obligations. Peasants formed the top rank of society; Confucius viewed the countryside as a place of moral value, where man and nature find harmony, and peasant production provided the economic support for everyone. Merchants formed the lowest level of society. Their constant travel took them away from day-to-day relationships; they focused on buying and selling, rather than perfecting moral relationships.

Merchants were free to buy and sell in markets; the state needed the income it derived from taxing them. Their travel and money gave them more basis for independence than other groups enjoyed, especially when they lived in the Pearl River delta or up the coast in Xiamen (formerly Amoy) or Fouzhou, far from imperial capitals. There, where the ocean is dotted with tiny islands bounded on the east by Formosa (now Taiwan), clan groups and individuals who entered into special guanxi relationships found they could smuggle goods and avoid imperial taxation. This way of life was challenged by Ming emperors who moved all villages along this coast thirty miles inland for a few years; that brought even tighter cohesion to the clans, as they sought ways to survive and resume the smuggling.

By 1842, when the barren island of Hong Kong was ceded to the British as a result of the Opium War, such groups had organized into triad societies, dedicated to resisting taxation and regulation. The new outpost attracted Chinese and Europeans intent on beating both the Chinese officials and the triad societies. Two of the largest early Hong Kong firms, Jardine Matheson and Dent, would store illegal opium in Hong Kong and then place it on clipper ships to be sold up the coast, undercutting smaller traders (Welsh 1993:174). Connections were made through prominent Chinese on the island, and bribes paid to police to look the other way; by the 1970's, when the government made its first serious efforts to root out such corruption, it was widespread within all ranks of the police department.13

Hong Kong businessmen are expert at creating business relationships with prominent officials in China. Hong Kong is also a comfortable place for Westerners and other Asians to do business. That gives it a unique and indispensable role as China's marketing door to the rest of Asia and the world.

It is also a useful place to evade authority. Officers of Chinese state-owned firms use assets derived from listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange to buy their parent companies at deep discounts--avoiding Chinese taxation and secretly diverting funds to their own pockets. When exporting through Hong Kong they leave profits behind in Hong Kong firms they control by undervaluing the exported good as it enters Hong Kong and is sold to their puppet firm. Over a thousand Chinese state-owned firms have created such Hong Kong "joint ventures"; many relatives of China's senior government ministers sit on the boards.14

The Center and the Market

So China has organized crime, and Hong Kong lies in the midst of it; those involved in that crime have played a major role in spurring China's growth for centuries. This offends an Augustinian Christian who emphasizes the importance of obeying laws; that the crime might be useful to society makes it no less criminal. A Confucian scholar-official charged with collecting taxes or suppressing smuggling would also frown on these activities because they are disobedient to authority. However, many Chinese, also citing Confucian traditions, might view these activities more positively, as part of achieving perfection in relationships and balance in society.

While Confucianism gives the emperor the last word in demanding obedience, its emphasis on loyalty to the family and on honoring commitments to special friends produces a creative tension. One owes loyalty to the emperor, but also to friends and family. The result is a situational ethic that keeps rulers from demanding total loyalty. Placing merchants low in the social order is a reminder that money isn't everything in life and that money should not buy power. Giving them a mandate to be loyal to family members and close associates, some prominent in government, lets them carry on trade and manufacture with cooperation from local officials. It lets a centralized, bureaucratized system accommodate to market freedoms.15

The 1978 reforms freed China's provinces, cities, and townships to establish joint venture industries and businesses with Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japanese, Singapore, and Western capitalists. So the market share of state industries (which had given the central government its principal source of revenue) declined markedly. In 1994, to replenish the treasury, the central government passed an income-tax law. Revenues from the Pearl River delta and coastal regions are disappointing. Clans and guanxi networks, needed to collect the new taxes, seem to have successfully diverted much money into their own pockets. A psychology professor at Xiamen University, Zhang Xie, says people in his province

do exactly what they want, so long as it's sanctioned by local usage. Relationship networks, family ties, sheer strength in numbers: in a backwater like this, these things count for more than rules. (Kaye 1995)16

Each of these booming coastal cities uses its connections with outside Chinese to boost growth. Xiamen looks to Taiwan, where many relatives fled in 1949. Canton, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai in the Pearl River delta turn to Hong Kong. Shanghai (whose former leaders now lead inner circles of power in Beijing) helps finance and plan development along the Yangtze River. Singapore has targeted Suzhou, Wuhan and other selected regions of China for intensive development. European emigrants often lose contact with their homeland after a generation or two. Nineteenth century Chinese émigrés sent money back to their families. In the twentieth century, those scattered along the Pacific Rim often retain ties, which they use to build investment opportunities in China.

It is natural to help clan and friends; it is also natural to receive help. Confucianism encourages the rich to help the poor, and the poor to accept. The Confucian scholar-officials who administered China were chosen by competitive exams open to all boys, rather than by nepotism or family connections; this encouraged social mobility. Scholar-officials and merchants have long exchanged favors; the scholar-officials gain money and obedience, while the merchants get relief from regulation and access to capital and markets (Gamer 1995).

Confucian traditions provide incentives to support one's family morally and financially, to be a role model for the next generation, and to enter special business relationships requiring reciprocities. Reciprocation, in turn, requires hard work if promises made are to become promises met.

The Calvinist call for vocation, Methodist ideas about social responsibility, Augustinian notions of grace, and Jefferson's deist "pursuit of happiness" all center on the faith of the individual. They also imply that a generalized concern for the glory of God or the well-being of all humankind might have higher moral standing than the well-being of one's own family or the demands of one's state.

The Confucian work incentive is combined with an imperative to support one's family and clan, create binding obligations with individuals at home and far from home, and obey rulers when push comes to shove.17 That encourages social solidarity both to resist and cooperate with central government. It lets Chinese incorporate ideas from the outside world, while holding society together. Far from being a detriment to market development, close family ties and a strong autocratic government have helped create market forces in China.

Neither Hong Kong nor China has experienced democratic government. The decisions of their legislative councils are not binding on their executives; until 1991, the majority of Hong Kong's councilors were unelected. An unelected Standing Committee of the Communist Party rules China. A Governor appointed by the Prime Minister of Britain rules Hong Kong. So both are growing frenetically without an elected Government. Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan18 have set up elections for legislatures and chief executives, but, to date, their ruling parties have not had to turn over power.

Productivity and Sustained Growth

China's culture encourages entrepreneurship. Yet can it maintain the productivity needed to compete in a world of high technology? And does it need Western democracy to sustain economic growth?

Hong Kong took a conservative approach in adapting to economic and political change. Rather than invest in the technology needed to compete with Silicon Valley, it chose to invest in mainland factories depending on low-skilled, low-paid workers. It also pumped funds into real estate speculation, partly on land that deflated radically in value during 1994. The high resulting cost of its own real estate has caused some companies to leave for the mainland or other parts of Asia where office space costs less.

Many of the 446,000 workers losing manufacturing jobs since 1988 find it hard to adapt to the lower pay and work habits of the new service jobs, despite the heavy government investment in retraining (Silverman 1995). Some 200,000 workers from the mainland and the Philippines take the lowest-paid construction and domestic jobs. Retail sales are declining; offices reduce staff, because their productivity lags behind Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea. Unemployment is above three percent for the first time, straining the welfare budget.

While its inflation rate has doubled or tripled ours in recent years, the Hong Kong dollar is tied to the US dollar at a steady rate (US$1 = HK$7.80) to maintain stability. As a result, interest rates have trailed annual price increases, encouraging real estate speculation and reducing the income of retirees with investments. China may choose to end this linkage.

China may not let the courts keep the integrity they have had under British rule, putting civil law in jeopardy. Eighty of the world's one hundred largest banks have their headquarters in Hong Kong; some may choose to relocate in Singapore or another place where law is more predictable.

Meanwhile, on the mainland, contract talks on fifty proposed power plants stall because Beijing's new conditions would give low return on investment, and China's yuan does not fully convert to other currencies; so electrical output is limited and uncertain. New cars and trucks appear much faster than new roads and subways, bringing gridlock to the major cities.

Sloppy construction workers often delay completion of contracts. No one knows who will succeed Deng Xiaoping. Relations with Taiwan and the West are tense. The central government no longer guarantees foreign loans, and has tightened credit to keep down inflation. It no longer lets foreigners hold majority stakes in port projects; for every ship in a Chinese port, 1.2 wait for a berth (Huus 1994). Taxes rise. High land prices in the new economic zones make investors wary.

Given its value system, can China adapt to such problems? Businesses demand more certainty in the process of making and administering laws, negotiating contracts, appealing breaches of contract, and setting currency exchange rates. The special relationships that help cement China's social contract create uncertainty by interfering with these processes.

One can pose here a question about these relationships: do they inherently obstruct reforms that could remove such uncertainty, or could reform coexist with them? Or one can ask about the businesses: could they successfully adapt to these uncertainties? The ultimate solution may derive from dealing with both questions, the creation of a climate that allows both value systems to adapt to one another.

China's merchants have learned to resist authority quietly; ours resist loudly. In Europe, nobility suppressed commerce it did not control. The Thirty Years War found Europeans killing each other over words of allegiance to conflicting religions. People fled to states offering more congenial rules. The American and French Revolutions replaced one ruling class with another and radically changed the rules of who could engage in commerce. The Industrial Revolution was begun by religious dissenters in England who fought the landed Establishment. Slowly one group after another won the right to vote and organize politically; much struggle accompanied each expansion of rights.

China was established in the second century B.C. when warring feudal states were replaced by centralized rule.19 Since then, even when it occasionally split among three or four conflicting capitals, all rulers have followed the sorts of precepts discussed here. Its people came to share common values based on a panoply of social responsibilities.20 Conquerors from outside adopted those values. Chinese adapted outside religions and institutions to Chinese ways.

Sons of merchants could become part of the ruling class if they passed competitive exams. For favors, officials waived regulations on commerce. Resistance was carried out secretly through special relationships. During such negotiations merchants developed the art of patient maneuvering, rather than high-profile lobbying. Except for Mao Zedong, the leadership of the People's Republic of China has come from families of officials or merchants, just as in previous periods. Except for Mao's brief attempts to undermine the system during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, this approach to politics has continued to prevail (Gamer 1994a:319-324).

While we continuously demand a widening of rules to let new groups organize, Chinese businesses quietly make use of relationships that have given them rights for millennia.

China's growth has slowed from fifteen percent to eight percent, closer to other Asian countries; the region sets the pace for world development. Its literate population works hard to maintain high output in agriculture, and in high technology and labor intensive industrial production. This creates business opportunities for those who know the region's cultures.

The "four little dragons"--Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore--have inspired Chinese intellectuals because they prosper and manage stable currencies and civil and contract law, and have merit-chosen technically oriented bureaucracies, while still emphasizing stability and many Confucian values. Their ability to do so has been enhanced by separation from the tradition-bound ancient Chinese homeland.

As we have seen, Hong Kong has been able to take on these attributes without giving up its traditional values and relationships. The legislative, executive, judicial, and bureaucratic institutions it has acquired give it a more independent and sophisticated base to resist central power than institutions of its neighboring cities. Beijing will not be keen to appear disruptive during its opening period of rule because it needs Hong Kong to continue economic growth. Though it plans to disband the legislature there are still many other institutions left through which to act and negotiate. It has agreed to create a court of appeal for the Hong Kong courts, located in Hong Kong, to replace the British Privy Council. The independence of that court will serve as a key test of China's ability to adapt to continuing economic growth.

Whose Values Work Best?

Francis Fukuyama (1989) wrote an article that gained much attention; it argued that this century has seen "an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism." More recently he has contended that only one "systematic competitor. . . is rapidly gaining strength and seems able to challenge liberalism": "Asian authoritarianism," Confucianism. He says:

In traditional Asian cultures, political authority has not rested so much on the correct engineering of institutions as on broad moral education that guarantees the coherence of fundamental social structures. . . . The essence of the Asian alternative is a society built not around individual rights, but around a deeply engrained moral code that is the basis for strong social structures and community life. (Fukuyama 1995)

Confucianism is primarily a "doctrine about the family and lower-level social relationships." He says (without elaborating) that there is "no theoretical reason why Confucian social structures could not coexist perfectly well with democratic political institutions."21 Yet Asians are wary of "American social problems -- the usual litany of pathologies like violent crime, drugs, racial tensions, poverty, single-parent families" and fear "democracy eventually leads to the breakdown of the social fabric."

Fukuyama says "it is during the past 50 years that individualistic currents have come to predominate over the more communitarian ones" in American democracy. He says that Asian societies have less trouble with the idea of adopting democratic institutions than with the idea of adopting democratic civil society and culture.

Samuel P. Huntington believes22 "democratization will possibly take place in the second generation after China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping":

The social forces developing in South China. . . will want to assert themselves politically. The coming decade could see the creation of groups with political agendas which are likely to have close ties with and be supported by Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. If substantial democratic movement emerges in South China, the way would then open for a negotiated transition to democracy between these democratic movements and reformers in Beijing.

Hong Kong citizens have voted into the legislature individuals who advocate free speech and elections. In Taiwan, minority parties have been gaining seats by standing on lecterns in the legislative chamber to shout down decisions by the chair and starting fist fights.23 South Korean police frequently hose down student demonstrations. Many younger citizens are open to the introduction of democratic institutions.24 Fukuyama correctly points out, however, that they are more wary about the special interest groups and changes in "family structure, religion, and moral values" that may accompany democratic institutions.

My problem (Gamer 1990; 1994b) with both these thinkers is their tacit assumption (more subdued recently in the case of Fukuyama) that democracy is the best recourse for China. Huntington contends that "the rise of Asia is leading to a fundamental shift in the overall balance of power between Asia and the West. With the shift in economic weight comes a shift in political influence and in the attractiveness of the Asian and Western political-economic models."25 If that is the case, and if Fukuyama is correct that Confucianism can challenge liberalism, why should Asia be turning to democracy?

To turn Fukuyama's question on its head, perhaps American democratic institutions could coexist with Confucian social institutions here, or even some of the community-based values espoused at United Presbyterian Monmouth College twenty five years ago. Would that be ideal for us? Would we lose our creativity? Might we gain more discipline and motivation to compete economically?

China needs ways to guarantee contracts more firmly and stabilize currency. Can it do this without abandoning its religious traditions focused on the family, intermediary special relationships, and obedience to central political authority? Can it adopt democratic institutions like free elections, and let plural economic institutions backed by a strong bourgeoisie bargain, and still keep those traditions? Without them, can it retain its entrepreneurial incentives and secure economic environment?26

Why should it change its religious traditions radically, rather than flexibly and selectively adopt from the outside as in the past? It would be turning to a more confrontational form of politics. Is that form of politics serving us well as we attempt to raise our 0% to 3% growth in GDP and curb our trade deficit?

This raises even more troubling questions. Can we export successful democracy without its Judeo-Christian religious underpinnings, especially the sacramental and theological support for the Golden Rule?27 Should we at least think through how democracy might be grafted to other religious traditions?

Can our own democracy work to promote an advancing society (Gamer 1994a) if a secularized public28 shrinks its civic culture into a mere mantra of support for individual liberties and special group agendas?

Works Cited

Dietrich, Craig. 1994. People's China: A Brief History. New York: Oxford University Press.

Fukuyama, Francis. 1989. "The End of History." The National Interest. 6:summer 1989. Reprint. 1992. The End of History and the Last Man. London: Hamish Hamilton.

__________. 1995. "Democracy's Future: The Primacy of Culture." Journal of Democracy. January, 1995:9-11.

Gamer, Robert E.1989-1990. "From Zig-Zag to Confrontation at Tiananmen: Tradition and Politics in China." University Field Staff Reports, no. 10.

__________. 1990. "Helping History Find Its Way: Liberalization in China." Crossroads. 32.

__________. 1990-1991. "East Europe's Search for Freedom Without Disruption: Avoiding the China Syndrome." University Field Staff Reports, no. 3.

__________. 1994a. Governments and Politics in a Changing World. Madison, Wisc.: Brown & Benchmark.

__________. 1994b. "Modernization and Democracy in China: Samuel P. Huntington and the 'Neo-Authoritarian' Debate." Asian Journal of Political Science. Vol. 2. No. 1, June 1994.

__________. 1995. "The Changing Political Economy of China." In The Changing Political Economy of the Third World, edited by Manochehr Dorraj. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner. Pp. 189-193.

__________., ed. 1997. Understanding Contemporary China. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner.

Gates, Hill. 1996. China's Motor: A Thousand Years of Petty Capitalism. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Grumley, John. 1995. "Fukuyama's Hegelianism--Historical Exhaustion or Philosophical Closure." History of European Ideas 21:379-392.

Grousset, Rene. 1959. The Rise and Splendour of the Chinese Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959.

Huus, Karl. 1994. "Gridlock Anyone?" The Far Eastern Economic Review, November 10, 1994.

Kaye, Lincoln. 1995. "Southern Cooking: Coast's Hot Economies Find Centre Distasteful." Far Eastern Economic Review, May 25, 1995.

King, Ambrose. 1991. "Kuan-hsi and Network Building: A Sociological Interpretation." Daedalus 120:63-84.

Shue, Vivienne. 1988. The Reach of the State: Sketches of the Chinese Body Politic. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Silverman, Gary. 1995. "The Price of Success." The Far Eastern Economic Review, July 6, 1995.

Spence, Jonathan. 1990. The Search for Modern China. New York: Norton.

Walder, Andrew G. 1986. Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Welsh, Frank. 1993. A History of Hong Kong. London: HarperCollins.

Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui. 1994. Gifts, Favors, and Banquets: The Art of Social Relationships in China. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.


1. We often take it for granted that when formal rules change substance changes along with them; we analyze the rules more than the substance of the change. Chinese often take rules (even restraining ones) and rhetoric very lightly; they are interested in whether substantial changes can be made. Form over substance, versus substance over form.

2. Research Department, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, "Hong Kong Economy Profile No. 188," June 6, 1995. The 132,000 enterprises in China backed by Hong Kong money account for two-thirds of foreign-funded enterprises there.

3. Hong Kong 1995: A Review of 1994, Government Printing Department, Hong Kong, 1995, pp. 65-66. In 1970 manufacturing provided 47% of jobs; in 1994, 20%.

4. "Hong Kong Economy Profile No. 188." When a firm ships components of goods through Hong Kong before they are manufactured elsewhere and then brings the finished goods through Hong Kong this classifies as a re-export. Eighty percent of Hong Kong's exports consist of such re-exports, 92% of which are to or from China. 56% of Hong Kong's re-exports are of Chinese origin, and a third are destined for sale in China.

5. "Hong Kong Economy Profile No. 188." The Bank of China and its 12 sister banks are the second largest banking group in Hong Kong.

6. More than half the revenues for this derive from a corporate profits tax, income taxes, and the tax on land sales. The rest come from various stamp duties, fees, duties on imports (cars, gasoline, cigarettes, liquor), taxes on bets at the race track, utilities, hotel rooms, airport use, motor vehicles, estates, and many other transactions. Seven percent of Hong Kong's budget derive from its race track bets, which surpass those at all United States tracks combined.

7. Zhuhai and Shanghai have just completed bridges of this magnitude carrying only road traffic. The new airport will occupy over six square miles of land reclaimed from the sea by filling it in with earth from hillsides. While Zhuhai's new state-of-the-art international airport, just up the delta, is smaller, the reclamation for the surrounding "aerotropolis" that allows for its expansion is even more extensive.

8. Trying to one-up its powerful neighbor, Shenzhen is building a still taller office structure. It has far less marble and magnificence.

9. Hong Kong 1995, p. 209.

10. Hong Kong 1995, p. 176. Hospital ward patients pay a flat US seven dollars a day for all services, including surgery; fees may be waived for those without funds. Outpatient services at the 291 clinics generally cost under US four dollars. Home visits by community nurses, and sessions at psychiatric or geriatric centers, cost less than US six dollars.

11. Hong Kong 1995, pp. 150-174.

12. For more on guanxi see King 1991.

13. Welsh (1993:493) believes that the Customs and Excise Department still continues to ignore drug shipments and perhaps other forms of smuggling. See also Max Skidmore, "Promise and Peril in Combating Corruption: Hong Kong's ICAC," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, September 1996.

14. "The Chinese Takeover of Hong Kong Inc," The Economist, May 7, 1994. Of the 10,000 firms the People's Liberation Army admits owning, about a tenth are in the Shenzhen special economic zone just across the border from Hong Kong.

15. For interesting discussions of this parochial politics Walder 1986; Shue 1988; Yang 1994; and Gates 1996.

16. A Beijing-based Western diplomat characterizes the province as "the all-China capital of disorganized, and therefore damn-near ineradicable, crime. Drug-running, immigrant-smuggling, copyright piracy, you name it."

17. Or support challenges to leadership if consensus emerges that war, poverty, and pestilence abound.

18. Taiwan's legislative chambers have been packed with ruling party KMT members "representing" seats on the mainland, and the president has been chosen by these chambers. In 1996 Taiwan had its first direct election for president. The opposition DPP party has won about 40% of the elected seats in recent parliamentary elections.

19. For general introductions to China: Grousset 1959; Spence 1990; and Dietrich 1994.

20. Ninety four percent of today's populace are Han. These people derive from a variety of races but share a common culture.

21. Perhaps family structures could stay intact. But the special intermediary "guanxi" relationships we have been discussing would certainly be endangered by the introduction of a strong bourgeoisie, bargaining among plural economic institutions, a free press, and autonomous social classes and groups.

22. "Huntington Speaks at Association of Development and Industrial Banks of Asia Meeting: East Asian Stability Depends on Chinese Hegemony Move," The Korea Times, June 3, 1995.

23. "Southern Cooking." A Xiamen cabbie watches Taiwan TV. "I like it when some politician in the Taiwanese parliament can use Minnan dialect [his dialect; these individuals are formerly from Xiamen] to shout down the old Kuomintang fogeys. I know that kind of fogey; we've got them on this side, too. I enjoy seeing cabbies like me tie up the whole downtown in a protest 'honk-a-thon.' And I like it when Taiwanese get all worked up about elections. Wish we had elections here. I'd vote for the opposition."

24. For my own experiences teaching in China during the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations see Gamer 1989-1990 and 1990-1991.

25. The Korean Times, June 2, 1995.

26. Neither Huntington nor Fukuyama say much about how democracy would help economic development. Grumley (1995) gives an excellent critique of Fukuyama's philosophical discourse. His argument about the inevitability of democracy is very loosely based on Alexander Kojeve's and Leo Strauss' interpretation of Hegel's historical inevitability, and on Plato's thymos. But he abandons these bases when the logic gets rough.

27. While the family lies at the heart of Confucian and Jewish traditions, Christianity posits a variety of communities, from the Good Samaritan to the community of faith to the universal love of agape.

28. Even "believers" and "worshipers" who know little about the origins and tenets of their religion, especially those which pertain to cooperating with Caesar and with other citizens, approach democracy in a secular manner.

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