The Three Gorges Dam. – According to INTERSHIPPINGRATES.COM, the Chinese anthropization of the territory, over the centuries, has always been expressed mainly through the control of the waters. In 2006 the Three Gorges dam was inaugurated on the Chang Jiang (Blue River), after just thirteen years of work. The dam (1980 m long and 185 m high) is an example of the Chinese approach to the territory, capable of modifying the elements of physical geography according to human needs. It is estimated that the area covered by the water collected by the dam extends for over 22,000 km2, that is to say almost the extension of the whole of Lombardy. The immensity of the work (which forced the displacement of almost one and a half million people, not to mention the submerged archaeological heritage) has aroused numerous objections from environmentalists, who have not stopped the government’s action. The success of the project (actually completed in 2009) shows that in the near future further interventions will be possible, capable of significantly modifying the environment: in particular, making new geographical areas habitable or irrigating new portions of arable land. The energy requirement was one of the main reasons for this great work: the dam, in fact, has been running 32 hydroelectric generators since 2012, capable of ensuring an annual production of 104 terawatt hours. In the future, the needs of Chinese industries and consumers are expected to increase very rapidly, urging the government to invest again in the production of additional alternative energy resources to coal. In the international arena, Beijing consensus.
Beijing consensus. – In the analyzes of international relations at the end of the twentieth century, it was customary to refer to the so-called Washington consensus, that is, the adaptation of individual states to the criteria imposed by the IMF (International Monetary Fund). These included not only economic issues (on inflation and public debt) but also moral issues, such as freedom of the press, multi-party politics, justice, respect for human rights (including health and literacy). Critics argued that those criteria constituted a new colonialism, exporting ‘Western’ values into different social realities (with accusations of hypocrisy focused on the death penalty and torture).
With the geopolitical rise of China, there is a clear tendency on the part of some states to reject the parameters imposed by the IMF, preferring rather to adapt to the Beijing geopolitical vision. In 2004, economist Joshua Cooper Ramo coined the term Beijing consensus, to describe the adhesion of many governments of Third World countries to the Beijing geopolitics, which allows access to large loans even without respecting the stringent Western parameters on respect for human rights, freedom of vote and expression. The economic success of the current China (starting with the paradigmatic example of the Three Gorges dam) appears as an alternative model of development. The perception of Westerners – including Russians and Americans – as the heirs of the colonizers helps to reinforce this assessment, while the Chinese are seen as victims of the age of imperialism.
Economic and financial policy. – Since the turn towards capitalism, initiated in 1978 by Deng Xiaoping, the growth of China has experienced an unprecedented acceleration in modern economic history. This development, which has improved, albeit with many contradictions, the standard of living of hundreds of millions of people, was made possible above all thanks to the full integration of China in the international trade system, but also thanks to the adoption of an unprecedented model based on a paradoxical mix of controlled capitalism, rigid political leadership, the granting of economic freedoms and openness to foreign capital (‘socialist market system with Chinese characteristics’). During the first decade of 2000, China’s GDP surpassed that of Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan and is second in the world after that of the United States. In 2011 it became the leading manufacturing country, with an industrial production share of around 25% worldwide, taking away from the United States a record it had held for 110 years. Wealth in just one decade per capita has more than quintupled, going from $ 1270 in 2003 to $ 6800 in 2013. At the beginning of the 10s of the 21st century. China has become the first exporter in the world and the second in volume of imports. These extraordinary results have generated repercussions on the one hand, giving rise to a new configuration of world trade and financial relations and prefiguring a new role of China not only with respect to industrialized economies, but also and above all towards developing countries. On the other hand, however, they confronted China with the need to face new and unprecedented challenges.