August 2 "China Society: Social and Cultural Change in China,"
with Dr. Carol Hamrin, Chinese Affairs Specialist, Department of State
As China continues to experience rapid economic growth, its previous
homogeneous society is developing into a much more diverse one, according
to Dr. Hamrin. By 2020 China will be considered an urban society,
due to the large movement of workers from the rural areas into the
cities. A growing middle class in China is also developing, as well
as a proliferation of public institutions, which have been seen as
necessary to maintain economic efficiency. Nonprofit organizations
(NPO), private charities, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), advocacy
groups, and more are all examples of the social institutions that
are getting involved with everything from helping high school drop
outs and the handicap, to running small businesses and protecting
the environment. Dr. Hamrin stated that these positive societal changes
are creating a sense of competition for not only goods, but also for
values, like religious choices, and human rights awareness. However,
barriers to a more civil society are still abundant. Corruption, lack
of accountability, organized crime, human trafficking, lost jobs,
and more remain serious obstacles to China's social stability and
its development. Though the Chinese government may not be able to
control the growing number of social services, they can slow down
regulations and laws that create greater freedoms for public institutions.
But Dr. Hamrin believes that China's civil society is steadily making
forward strides and will be an important part of overall Chinese development.