Reform in China began in the countryside with farmers and peasants, and later on furthered by opening Special Economic Zones, which privileged favourable tax rates to attract foreign direct investment.
Furthermore, as Shanghai opened up in the 1990’s, the first phase of growth through manufacturing and industry was initiated.
China was ‘determined to achieve its rightful place by nationalistic assertiveness’ (Wolfowitz 1997, p.7) through a harmonious and peaceful rise.
After Mao Zedong passed away in 1976, China’s political system was greatly transformed.
As time passes China’s rise becomes more and more about power (capabilities and the projection of those capabilities) while increasing pressure has forced China to seriously reconsider what it is they want in the long term.
In the past, understanding China as a major global actor was studied through theoretical lenses such as traditional-historical, Maoist-communist and realist-rational analysis.International society consists of “gradations of power: world powers, great powers, middle powers, minor powers, and so the subdivisions go on…” (Dunne, 2, 2007) In the last decade of the 20 century, new and significant developments have affected the structure of the international system, drastically altering the relationships between national, international and global actors.While the end of the Cold War forced a loosening of bipolarity and imposed a universal concept of western liberal democracy (Foreign Affairs Agenda, 27, 2006), the 2007-2010 global financial crisis has diluted the uni-polar world in which the United States of America acts as the primary hegemonic figure, presenting the world with an opportunity to reconsider the current order.Instead the current Western order is so deeply and historically rooted that it has become easier to join the Western system rather than overturn it (Ikenberry, 2008).“Theory is always for someone and for some purpose.The question during this time was whether the Chinese Communist Party would be able to adapt to the new social and economic conditions created by those recent reforms.The CCP faced the challenge of liberalizing its economy without destabilizing the political system and changing its organization, while attracting new members (Dickson, 517-540).The post Cold War era has proven to be one of immense change, characterized by new forms of imperialism, global economic governance, globalization, capitalism and a fulcrum of power relations.Since the peace of Westphalia, hierarchical sub-systems and un-like sovereign states have characterized the international system.These approaches were later followed by institutional and perceptual schools (Bin Yu, 236, 1994).For instance, John Ikkenberry has suggested that China’s rising influence may be used for its own benefit in a zero-sum game, creating a great security threat, or on the other hand that a massive hegemonic transition is not inevitable.