The modern Chinese government is tasked with maintaining its centralized authority, managing the country’s economy, and administering the government’s enormous bureaucracy. The Chinese government has a long tradition of highly centralized authority that predates the modern era. The emperors from the earliest dynasties recognized this as essential to maintaining power over an area so vast.
Maintaining this control was much easier when the government’s isolationist policies offered the citizenry a very limited world view. The job of maintaining strict centralized control is much harder today. Capitalist reforms have exposed many citizens to various political systems and theories, and they have also created various opportunities for some segments of the population to achieve great wealth while others work for very low wages, a stark contradiction to the government’s communist ideals. A highly centralized structure is necessary to suppress any dissent and threats to its existence.
The Chinese economy is among the largest and fastest growing in the world, and the government has the task of maintaining this momentum, handing the disparity of wealth it creates, and procuring resources and maintaining relations with its trading partners. Among the challenges posed are obtaining energy supplies from foreign sources and handling foreign pressure to improve working conditions and environmental standards without compromising the economy’s ability to grow.
Another task of the Chinese government is managing the enormous bureaucracy that is necessary to provide services to such a large population. The Chinese bureaucracy is characterized by the tendency of officials at lower levels to defer decisions to superiors, which often makes agencies seem ineffective or incapable of responding to changing conditions or pressing needs. The Chinese government must control this machine and deliver services to maintain the status quo.